Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DAY 290--ELECTRIC ZOMBIES

Have you ever done something you knew you weren't probably going to like--be it going on a date with someone who wasn't your type, or consuming drinks with names like Elephant Enema--but did it anyway? What you feel afterward isn't necessarily regret, but almost a vague sense of shame that goes beyond "I told you so." The 2006 shot-on-video release ELECTRIC ZOMBIES is like that, a movie so universally reviled by those who've seen it that I knew I had to see it, even though it's as much fun as eating a bucket of bad clams.

In a premise that Stephen King would find awfully familiar, ordinary citizens are becoming brain-washed zombies due when they answer their cell phones. I hate to do this, but for further plot information allow me to quote in full the Plot Summary from the film's IMDB page:

"Cult horror director John Specht's low-budget feature, "Electric Zombies," neatly cobbles together two disparate genres: the conspiracy thriller and the horror/slasher movie. It also comments sardonically on the post-9/11 fear of the U.S. government-gone-haywire, as it recounts the tale of a misguided federal project to brainwash "enemies of the state" via cell-phone signals. The signals inadvertently grow in power and become redirected to the U.S., turning unsuspecting civilians into super-obedient zombies whenever their cell phones are answered. They receive self-destructive orders, which they follow will-lessly -- orders running the gamut from self-mutilation to suicide to homicide to riot. Those who manage to escape from falling prey to the menace must find a way to stop the threat -- before the U.S. erupts into unchecked anarchy."

The above synopsis is credited to one Jonas Moses, who appears as an actor in the film. Frankly, I would've still known it was a ringer's review by two things: one, it isn't the least bit negative, and two, Moses knew exactly what the movie was about.

There is absolutely no way one can discern what happens in ELECTRIC ZOMBIES just by watching it. It's a terminally muddled "thriller," compensating in confusion what it lacks in thrills. Director John Specht lets us know right off the bat we'll never know what's going on, drowning the dialogue under the score and sound effects and fading in and out without rhyme or reason every thirty seconds. We've got spies, politicians, cops, pimps and ho's, but what we don't have is a clue.

ELECTRIC ZOMBIES fails in every conceivable artistic capacity, too cheap, boring, and stupid to even elicit a passionate response. Watching it won't make you laugh or piss you off; you'll just sit there with a vague feeling of sympathy, praying for the end to come (the movie's or yours, whichever happens to arrive first).

If you're anything like me you normally rush out and track down a movie that gets a virulent review like this one, and because I know the mentality I won't bother to stop you. Instead I'll wait until the following morning, give you a comforting pat on the shoulder, and say, "I told you so."

2 comments:

Jonas Moses said...

Scott,

So as to avoid any chance of being suspenseful - one would not want this, after your hilarious review of this dog-with-fleas version of the movie, "Electric Zombies" - allow me to introduce myself, as the so-called actor, to whom you attribute an IMDB plot summary of EZ... I am Jonas Moses. When writing about other people, by name, in such a public forum as this, Scott, I recommend you do a little more homework, to include some simple fact-checking:

For instance, before writing this piece, did you bother to contact me and ask me, "so, Jonas, did you write the EZ entry on IMDB?" To which my polite answer would have been, "no, Scott...in fact, I have never seen this entry and have no clue as to who may have written it!" Furthermore, while I think you are selling John Specht short - as a balls-to-the-wall, guerrilla film-maker, who has recently been rewarded for years of hard work on micro-budget/no-budget films by being commissioned to create six new internationally-targeted cable series (with Hollywood-level budgets, to boot!!! Congrats to you, John!) - I do have to agree that what is currently out on DVD and marketed as the movie John wrote and directed, is worse than bad...it's painful to watch!

Did you bother to contact John Specht and ask him about the video, currently marketed as "Electric Zombies," and credited to John? No, you did not, Scott. For, had you bothered to contact him, first, you would know of that the film as edited (if you can call that piece of crap "editing") does not in any way resemble the the raw footage (the dailies), which was really promising. John had some great ideas, and gave a yeoman's effort to realizing them on film, with a budget of little more than a thousand dollars... I saw the raw footage, Scott, and it looked great, uncut. However, by the time the editing was to begin, John and his executive producer had had a parting of the ways (artistically-speaking), and the cutting-together of the film fell to someone who had no clue how to use editing equipment, much less had any actual editing experience!

Scott, I have not even bothered to watch more than a few minutes of this monstrosity - as it has been universally decried by everyone involved with the original production as totally un-representative of what was initially captured on film (okay, digitally-captured, if you are going to be a purist). Was the film ever destined to be "great Art?" Nah...not a chance, nor was it commissioned as such. It was always going to be a micro-budget feature, with a formulaic plot, targeting a very specific foreign viewer (Asian, primarily) market. Was it a lame effort on the part of anyone involved with the making of the film? Absolutely and emphatically "no!" I only wish you could have been on the set during filming, Scott. Everyone involved worked incredibly hard, and was exceptionally devoted to John Specht and to the project. Please, do this film, its director/writer, actors and crew a favor and consider the possibility that what you watched on DVD bears little resemblance to what we originally filmed.

Written with utmost respect and my best wishes to you, Scott! Good luck with your project!

Peace,

Jonas

--
Jonas Moses, PhD, PA

Scott Emerson said...

Thanks for the clarification, Jonas. My apologies for erroneously attributing the IMDB synopsis to you.

I have no doubt that everyone involved with the production of ELECTRIC ZOMBIES worked extremely hard--filmmaking is always an arduous prospect--or that John Specht is a passionate filmmaker. I'm sure he isn't the first director to see his vision mangled during the post-production process, or fall victim to "creative differences."

That said, the review was of the version available on DVD and my comments reflected the finished cut. Were Specht to release a "director's cut" I would be more than happy to give it a fair shake, even once the project is finished.