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Belittling Horror Excessively: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead04:28 PM -- Mon October 19, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

My Review: I knew things were looking up already at the 2nd line of dialogue in this movie, because they immediately referred to the walking dead as “zombies”. Yes, a movie that actually admits that’s what they are! I’m so tired of hearing about “Zeds” and “Walkers” and “Infected”. If this stuff happened for real, “Zombie” is the only word we’d use.

But that isn’t the only good thing about this movie! It’s the story of a few people surviving in the first days of a zombie outbreak. I don’t need to go into detail, that pretty much covers it, but they have some fun original elements (this stuff constitutes mild spoilers, so hang on to your hat): the zombies breathe a flammable gas and change their behavior from day to night, there’s a mysterious military conspiracy (okay, that’s definitely been done), and there’s a character who develops the ability to mind-control zombies. Now there’s the big game-changer! This movie looked and felt like a comic book all over, with no worries about reality, just all kinds of campy over-the-top action and insanity, and you just have to be along for the ride. There is one plot element that seems completely gratuitous and invented solely for the purpose of giving them a reason to capture zombies: without explanation, gasoline (and similar substances) have stopped being flammable. They don’t know why, and we never find out. Good thing the zombies breathe flammable gas so they can rig up their Mad Max truck to run on zombies! That felt really contrived if you ask me, but it was fun.

The whole situation with the zombie mind control added a big layer to what would otherwise be just standard zombie-splattering mayhem. Without that, I probably wouldn’t recommend this movie, but that took it over the top for sure. Like so many of the movies this month, the movie ends right in the middle of the story. It’s basically an origin story for The Zombie Queen superhero, as it ends with the team set up to do battle with the mysterious government, and with us lacking explanations for anything. Actually, I would say more than anything that this felt like the pilot to a TV series. And it would be a great TV series, I have to say. Way more fun than The Walking Dead. This is not a story of mopey people at each other’s throats, it’s a bunch of nutjobs going crazy and having a blast as they blast zombies. Which is pretty disturbing, but that’s the kind of movie it is.

I also happen to be right in the middle of an obsession with playing Dead Island, and this movie just fit right in with that. Good choice, me.

My Rating: 4/5 Air Harpoons.

My Movie Idea: I think zombies are pretty played out (maybe?! They’ve only been the focus of 80% of pop culture for 5 years), but I thought this might be an interesting twist on them: there’s a tiny invasive vine that infects people and gets under their skin and begins to take them over. But the victim doesn’t become a zombie, they just sorta get sick and eventually comatose. This kills you after a while, as your organs just shut down. The vine grows chloroplasts in your skin, and draws energy from the sun that way. If it manages to suck up enough solar energy, it can reanimate your corpse in a very slow and clumsy way, sort of the classic zombie that lumbers along slowly and is easy to evade. But if that zombie somehow manages to catch a victim, and eats enough meat, it evolves further, with the strength and energy and improved brain function to be one of those “rage zombies” from more recent zombie moves - fast runner, jumper, desperate to eat people (or animals, whatever). This zombie in turn is trying to eat brains specifically (still eating meat for energy, but it wants brains), and if it can eat some brains, it gets smarter...

And this process continues on and on, with smarter, faster, crazier zombies (flying, why not? Acid spit, super-jumping, using weapons and tools, whatever!). So the structure of the movie is kind of in chapters - they’re dealing with the current kind of zombies, and then they see something worse plowing through the crowd toward them, and we get a big title card “Phase III”, and they start having to deal with those. So the situation just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Something like this would probably end with a weird twist where the ultimate zombie form is smarter than we are, and it’s trying to build human farms, keeping us alive as a food source. I’m not sure how the humans win in this scenario, seems hopeless to me, but in Hollywood it’s usually something like this: the zombies evolve into a hivemind, and they kill the leader-brain which kills them all. Seems like a weakness to me, not a very good evolution at all. But hey, here’s a fun bit of backstory: at some point they discover that this is an alien invasion. It’s cheaper and easier than intergalactic war to just send the plant seeds to our planet to start taking us over and turn us into them (and maybe eventually receive signals beamed from space to actually put their consciousness in our bodies without them having to travel at all? Could be).
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