Monday, July 7, 2008


Unbeknownst to me, this 2001 cult oddity from Argentinian filmmakers Pablo Pares and Hernan Saez is a sequel to the earlier (and presumably cultier) PLAGA ZOMBIE. General consensus says MUTANT ZONE is the better of the two, in which case I plan to steer plenty clear of the original. It's easy to see why this film has an underground following, since it embraces such fanboy icons as Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, and I feel like I should've liked it, but the movie left me cold. (Perhaps because at this point I'm extremely weary of Raimi/Jackson homages.)

Pares and Saez attempt to emulate the same frantic energy as BAD TASTE or Tsui Hark's WE'RE GOING TO EAT YOU, but instead of being quirky and frenetic, they simply come off as loud and obnoxious; often watching MUTANT ZONE is like being stuck in a Denny's with a hyperactive child that won't shut up. The film is indeed chaotic, but in a rambling, directionless way as the filmmakers blur through the episodic story like an ADD-afflicted kid with a remote control. (Sorry about all the child-based similes--blame the juvenile nature of the film, or the Troma-esque level of humor delivered in spastic Spanish.)

Nor does MUTANT ZONE achieve--or strive to achieve, for that matter--to be anything more than a clone of the filmmakers' favorite directors, slavishly copying the gory excesses (to a considerable degree, there's grue aplenty to be had here) of THE EVIL DEAD or BRAINDEAD. Like Raimi and Jackson, Pares and Saez can accomplish quite a lot with a next-to-nothing budget, and there are a few slight flashes of ingenuity (such as tying a zombie to a light post with its own intestines), but they're too preoccupied with being imitative that they never pull off anything truly unique.

I'll leave it at that, since I feel a rant coming on about how filmmakers these days are content to replicate their inspirations rather than outdo them. PLAGA ZOMBIE: MUTANT ZONE might cut the mustard when you can seem to remember where you left your EVIL DEAD 2 DVD, but original or refreshing it ain't.

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