Friday, August 22, 2008


Drawing inspiration from PLANET OF THE APES and the myriad MAD MAX rip-offs that proliferated during the early '80s, writer/producer/director Steve Barkett's 1982 film ZOMBIE AFTERMATH has the makings of a pretty good film: an enthralling premise, a smattering of monsters, and the promise of sci-fi-tinged action. What it doesn't have is the budget or skill of a pretty good film, and thus turns these raw ingredients into 95 minutes of sludge.

Barkett also stars as part of a three-man space crew that crash-lands off "the coast of Los Angeles," only to find the Earth has been reduced to an unoriginal post-nuclear wasteland populated with roving biker gangs led by Sid Haig and highly flammable mutants (which go completely in flames at the barest touch of a match-head).

ZOMBIE AFTERMATH ultimately degenerates into a cliched blow-up-and-rescue vehicle that would make Chuck Norris weep; it's a hopelessly misguided mess, boasting all the production value of a cheap Filipino actioner and the excitement of Pledge Week on PBS. The abominable special effects--including penny-ante matte paintings and a spaceship set that would've embarrassed Al Adamson--do nothing to detract from the directionless, plotless "story." Barkett makes for an incredibly poor action hero, which at least keeps him consistent with the rest of the amateurish cast; Haig does the same psycho shtick he'd deliver for Rob Zombie twenty years later, but even his rape-happy character can't liven the film.

The finale tosses in some (very) mildly interesting action, such as a rooftop chase (which appears to have been performed on actual high-rise balconies without wires or safety harnesses); yet Barkett mishandles this as well, allowing a villain who's been shotgunned in both legs to stand, let alone fight.

Perhaps you've noticed that I've not yet made any mention of the film's zombies. The reason is simple: THERE ARE NO ZOMBIES IN THIS MOVIE. Yes, my reward after enduring this terrible picture--transferred onto DVD from a beat-to-hell VHS complete with tracking problems--is a copyright notice proclaiming this to be called merely THE AFTERMATH. Now, I've scrapped potential blog entries midway when I realized they weren't about zombies, but wouldn't something titled ZOMBIE AFTERMATH contain, I dunno, zombies? This could've been a how-to gardening video and the name would be just as accurate, and probably more entertaining to boot; yet by slapping on a misleading label someone managed to make this dross even less useless.

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