This shot-on-video flick actually took four days to write. Shocking! I mean this isn’t exactly a complex story. I’m not going to lie, two minutes into this one and my finger was hovering over the STOP button on the remote. I was feeling very twitchy. The acting was beyond cringe-worthy, there is no production value to speak of, and why the fuck is Richard Nixon going around and hugging people to death?
That’s right, this week you Blood Suckers voted for Death Metal Zombies to be the flick I watched and reviewed. And all I gotta say is…
But as with Tusk, even though I hope to never have to watch this one again, I have found an appreciation for it. I suppose some admiration for good ol’ Todd Jason Cook, the writer/director/co-star, for going out there and making his movie with what he had at his disposal. So here we go.
Nothing can be certain except death, taxes and …
Death Metal Zombies is the film (video?) that dares ask what would happen when a death metal song turns anyone who listens to it into, well … a death metal zombie. Surprising as it may be, when folks are turned into death metal zombies, they do a whole bunch of headbangin’, intestine rippin’, butt stabbin’, and go about just raising a general ruckus. Of course, there’s also the serial killer wearing a Nixon mask that shows up at random points without rhyme or reason.
The obvious flicks that came to mind when I heard the title of the this one was 1986’s Trick or Treat and the 2015 New Zealand flick, Deathgasm. And if you haven’t seen either of these, stop reading this review right now and go watch them both. But back to Death Metal Zombies…
OK, so who made this stinker of a film?
The dude responsible for this one is Todd Jason Cook. He started making movies back in 1984 when he was only 12-years-old, and since then he has continued to make movies using whatever he can get his hands on. His first release came in 1992 with Evil Night, the story of a nerd who seeks violent revenge on his tormentors.
Next came more practically no-budget movies such as Demon Dolls, Horrorscope, and Lisa’s Nightmares (and its 4 sequels). In 1994, Cook began shooting his 8th film, Death Metal Zombies. Shot in and around Houston, this sucker ended up taking over 10 months to shoot due to massive flooding in October of 1994 that saw the San Jacinto River’s levels go from 4 feet to more than 32 feet, causing several deaths and millions of dollars of destruction. But the Death Metal Zombies would not be stopped!
OK, so what’re we getting into here?
I suppose the closest character we have to a protagonist in this one is Angel, played by Todd Cook’s wife at the time, Lisa Cook, the titular Lisa from the long running Lisa’s Nightmares franchise. Angel’s boyfriend, Brad (Bill DeWild) is the metal-head who wins the latest release from his favorite band, Living Corpse, in a radio contest. Brad and his pal Tony (Todd Cook) decide to give the tape a listen while Angel is at work, and wouldn’t you know it, they go and turn into ghouls.
The rest of the flick follows the path of destruction wrought by these dudes and a whole bevy of other random zombies that appear from nowhere. Eventually we learn that Shengar (Thomas Banta), the lead singer for Living Corpse, is the Lord of the Underworld and needs followers to do his unholy bidding. Throw in some gratuitous death metal concert footage, mix with a couple of pretty decent gore scenes (especially with the budget these folks were working with), and the next thing you know we are discovering that the only way to stop these zombies is vile country music. Well, that and playing the song backwards. All of this is bookended by the aforementioned Richard Nixon-mask-wearing serial killer.
Watch it for the plot?
If you say that sounds confusing, well, you’re not wrong. I watched this entire flick from beginning to end, and it’s not a matter of figuring out what is going on, it is simply rolling with the punches while watching a young filmmaker learn the ropes. Hell, he basically was a one-man show with this flick: director, writer, actor, producer, music by, casting by, assistant makeup artist, special effects, and visual effects. And on top of all of that, Todd Jason Cook was also living his other life as professional skateboarder Todd Falcon (yes, it is a tribute to Tony Hawk). In fact, his latest flick was 2018’s Skateboarding Revelations: Journey to the Final Level, which documents his journey that started in 1984 to invent as many skateboard tricks as possible. Dude even had one of his tricks, the FalconSlide, featured in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4.
And Cook’s flicks have not stayed in the ’90s. Oh no! Cook himself pretty much remade Death Metal Zombies in 2012 with a bigger budget as Zombiefied (the title of the song that turns people into flesh fiends). Two other flicks Demon Dolls and Evil Night were remade in 2015 and 2014 respectively for even less money than the originals! I’m talking the same amount of money it would cost to buy a used 1997 Volvo station wagon.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Evil Night was remade by the one and only Chris Seaver. Seaver is the mastermind behind such classics as the Anal Paprika trilogy, Scrotal Vengeance, 12 Inches of Dangling Fury, Heather and Puggly Crucify the Devil, Heather and Puggly Drop a Deuce, Heather and Puggly Cock Block the Apocalypse, Ski Wolf, Moist Fury, Terror at Blood Fart Lake, Return to Blood Fart Lake, and SexSquatch to name a few.
So, there you have it, Death Metal Zombies! Despite the obvious shortcomings, I did find myself giggling along a few times, and had some fun with this. From all the interviews I read with Todd Jason Cook, it is clear he is a genuine lover of horror. He said on multiple occasions that Friday the 13th influences everything he does, and it shows. We have a fair amount of nudity, decent gore, and a rockin’ sound track featuring the likes of Pungent Stench, Brutality, Dismember, and Mortician. What it lacks in technical ability, acting credibility, and general coherence, Death Metal Zombies makes up for with the obvious passion and love for the genre that everyone in this project demonstrates.
That being said, I gotta give it a single bolo (yes, we’re doing bolos instead of stars now in honor of Mr. Joe Bob Briggs). It is what it is. But, for me it was a real chore to get through. Even so, I can never totally dismiss a filmmaker that has the gumption to do what they love. Todd Clark had a desire to make this movie and he didn’t wait around for the budget, the actors, or the fancy equipment. He made do with what he had and made a flick he is proud of. Check it out!
P.S. The whole Nixon serial killer thing? In an interview with thegoresplatteredcorner.com, Todd Clark said “the only reason for Richard Nixon is because I saw a film that I love that used the mask, and I wanted to use it for the unexplained killer.” We got any other Point Break fans out there?