Monday, December 17, 2007


Roughly twelve seconds into BERSERKERS, a 2003 short film from director Kevin Lindenmuth, I started singing to myself the song of the same name (you know, Olaf the Russian metal singer's chart-topper from CLERKS). After sitting through the actual film, I'd recommend you watch that scene from Kevin Smith's classic--hell, watch the whole thing again--instead of this misbegotten zombie flick.

The Michigan-shot opus begins with a mother and her two sons encountering a horde of rotting zombies in the forest (the film is a pretty blatant homage to the Italian-zombie genre, though the make-ups on display are so amateurish that they bring to mind a third-grade Halloween party rather than Lucio Fulci). After one of the boys gets turned into a zombie and munches on Mom, we flash forward twelve years to a (presumed) undead apocalypse. (Did I mention is has something to do with a Viking curse, hence the title? Where Vikings fit in with Italian zombie flicks I have no idea.) The older brother--traumatized by the prologue's events, we're led to believe--has grown up to be a skinhead survivalist-type, living in the same forest and doing . . . well, Lindenmuth never really gets around to explaining. Surviving, I suppose. When he encounters a trio of fellow survivors, two gals and a guy, he serves the man to the zombies so he can have the females all to himself (it may or may not have been an unspoken irony, but I got the impression that the girls were a lesbian couple, but again Lindenmuth never clarifies). Standard zombie hijinx ensue for the remainder of the flick's brief running time.

BERSERKERS was originally released as part of GOREGOYLES, a two-part horror anthology film, where it was paired with THE HOLY TERROR (a so-so film about demonic possession) and hosted by a skeevy metalhead Crypt Keeper-wannabe. Perhaps Lindenmuth made this film as a way to bulk GOREGOYLES up to feature length. There's plenty of material here for a ninety-minute story that can be developed instead of being skimmed over and crammed into a truncated form. This was also the first project Lindenmuth made in Michigan following his relocation from New York, and judging from the performances on hand I'd say he didn't get much chance to scout for local talent.

If it's Italian-style zombie action you're craving, you'd be far better off picking up an actual Italian zombie film (BURIAL GROUND, anyone?). Attempting to glean any thrills from this bare carcass of a film would be meaningless and futile.

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