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American Zombie (2008)

4 January 2010 by Baldy No Comment

2008, Dir. Grace Lee
91 min. Rated R.
Starring: Grace Lee, John Zolomon, Austin Basis, Suzy Nakamura, Jane Edith Wilson

Review by Baldy

Renowned documentary filmmakers Grace Lee and John Solomon have turned their considerable talent towards a topic that is of increased interest: the small but burgeoning communities of zombies across America.

Though there are certainly mindless, undead automatons out there, many of the zombies are higher-functioning “people” who still work and live normal… lives, I guess, for lack of a better word. They may not remember anything about their lives before their violent deaths – those who die of natural causes do not become zombies – but they do their best to rejoin humanity. The filmmakers take us deeper into the world of zombies, populations of feared and often musunderstood folks.

Okay, it’s a mockumentary, but what a GREAT IDEA! The filmmakers (well, Grace Lee at least) are Very Serious Documentarians. The fact that they are willing to poke fun at their own chosen medium makes it all the more enjoyable. They’re so serious and their subject is so serious and the zombies they interview are So Serious…

Ivan the zombie

This is Ivan. He works the night shift at a convenience store. He gets to take home all of the expired food products. Since they’re packed with preservatives, he figured that this might keep him flesh from decaying for a while. He publishes a ‘zine called American Zombie, skateboards poorly and dates a live girl who loves his oral fixation. He knows that he died from head trauma, probably a gunshot or a sharp stick, but possibly a vicious blow from a katana. If you read this website, you know this guy.

Joel the activist

This is Joel. He is a community organizer for the undead, making sure that they have safe sleeping arrangements, ensuring that the mindless are cared for, and lobbying for more humane labor laws, that kind of thing. He hates the way zombies are treated (just because a guy never sleeps does NOT mean you should have him work 24 hours a day) and works very hard to create a better world for the undead. He’s kind of scary and obnoxious – reminds me of the crazy people who protest at the G8 summit.

Lisa the zombie

This is Lisa. She arranges flowers, specializing in funeral arrangements. She finds it to be a joyous undertaking since these people are truly dead. Lucky them. She has anger issues and goes to counseling and tries to attain Nirvana while having to have maggots cleaned out of the huge wound in her stomach. She is wound tighter than anyone I have ever seen.

Poor Judy

This is Judy. A lovely young lady, she obsessively dreams of getting married and having – scratch that – adopting children. She has the wedding planned. She pores over the bridal magazines. She knows what a wonderful life she’ll have just a few years from now. All she has to do is find a guy who loves her as she is, or will passively allow himself to be caught up in her dreams. And he has to not mind that she’s undead.

This film is simply brilliant. It lets us see into the lives of individual zombies while making us think about other issues. Do zombies crave human flesh? What is the black market product that they keep in the fridge? What do they do at Live Dead that makes them prohibit all but a few living humans? Are they content just to continue being until they decay and disappear? The approach to the topic, the way in which it was shot, the casting of and approach to the zombies all impart some gravitas onto a film that would have been very easy to make into a joke.

I love zombies. I love documentaries. Your chocolate, my peanut butter.

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