Monday, December 3, 2007


Zombie films get educational in this 2006 production from writer Paul Scofield and director Joey Carrillo, which lampoons the instructional "mental hygiene" films from the 1950's. Presented as a three-part series of shorts, WHAT TO DO IN A ZOMBIE ATTACK does a decent job parodying the look of vintage educational films, but never completely succeeds in spoofing either them, or zombie films.

Narrated by a bad voice-over (who doesn't sound a thing like the monotonous, vaguely condescending narrators of educational films), WHAT TO DO shows us the Hendersons, a God-fearing, all-American family in the midst of a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD-style zombie attack. The film tries hard to mock the McCarthy-era sensibilities behind these films (namely, that tax-paying Christian Americans can rise above any adversity with determination and drive--as well as not being a Communist), but the sledgehammer subtlety of the humor weakens most of the jokes. The filmmakers also miss potential satirical material in ZEMA, the Zombie Emergency Management Squad that's briefly mentioned but put to little use.

WHAT TO DO's humor also misses the mark when it comes to zombies. If you're going to poke fun at the era of conformity, why not use your undead to suit the time period, rather than employing the embodiment of the tumultuous '60s? I may be putting too fine a point on it, but the best parodies work when two elements blend naturally and play off each other in various unseen ways, and I didn't get that here.

Though often funny, WHAT TO DO IN A ZOMBIE ATTACK is little more than its one-joke premise. Worth a look for the curious, but hard to recommend.

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