When I first announced this blog, several people asked me if I'd be including any films involving Jesus Christ; after all, they'd say, Jesus was the original zombie. A brief search on the internet yielded very little in the way of movies centered on the O.Z., though it appears that a few independent filmmakers have started picking up the zombie/cannibalistic aspects of the story of Christ. (I think it's safe to say that this is one premise that will stay in the indie domain; I can't imagine any producer greenlighting a significant budget to a project that would be greeted with a guaranteed shitstorm of controversy.)
CORPUS DELECTI was one of the first discoveries of that search. This seven-minute short from writer-producer-director Ian Hunter doesn't shy away from the taboo elements of his premise; rather, given the movie's URL of www.zombiejesus666.com, it strives to be the most sacrilegious film ever made. And if bad filmmaking really is a sin, then Hunter is on the right track.
Filmed in one continuous shot, the movie kicks off with Jesus returning to life after three days on the cross (the conversion to zombiedom represented by a quick flash of negative film). A trio of apostles, among them Judas Iscariot, help him to the ground and attempt to nourish him with bread and wine; but it turns out that this new Jesus is more interested with their flesh and makes of fast snack of them (Judas's entrails, Jesus tells us, taste of betrayal) before reviving them as his undead minions. A Roman Centurian happens upon the blasphemy, but is no match for the zombies and is swiftly consumed. Satan caps off the proceedings by showing up to either laugh maniacally, or start a belching contest, I couldn't tell.
With its sepia-tinted photography and ominous synthesizer score, Hunter had the means to make a serious, disturbing film, but by choosing to go over-the-top and "hardcore," his end result is unintentionally hilarious and trite. The minimal performances, conveyed in poorly-rendered voiceovers, are especially weak, but the worst offender is Jesus himself, who delivers his lines in the Cookie Monster growl of a death metal vocalist. The dialogue alternates between overwrought and downright ludicrous, such as when Christ tells the Centurion, "Rome wasn't eaten in a day!"
The film did go on to win the Scrapshots Film Competition, so perhaps is barebones style was a neccesary evil. Maybe if Hunter gave his material another go-round, focusing on the implications of the son of God returning as the living dead rather then mashing Lucio Fulci into a Scandinavian black metal video, his film might get a more deserving chance.
(Special thanks to Michael Chase for bringing this movie to my attention.)