If you ever settled in for a 90-minute block of short films at a horror festival, you probably know that you’re about to treated to a “mixed bag” – and that’s sort of the fun.
The cool thing about short film collections is that if you just aren’t into the one that’s presently rolling across the screen, you only have to wait a few minutes for another one to kick in. Sometimes it’s the dark ones that work for you, and other times you’ll appreciate some of the funnier, creepier, or plain old weirder shorts – and hopefully you’ll be able to single out a few mini-films that are particularly shocking, clever, or otherwise memorable.
On the other hand, if you’ve never even been to a film festival, let alone a “shorts collection” presentation, then the scrappy and inconsistent, but periodically rather amusing, anthology Zombieworld does a fine job of emulating that experience – provided you’re into low-budget zombie carnage, that is. As a whole, Zombieworld exhibits an oddly schizophrenic tone – the comedic short films are a hell of a lot more effective than the relatively dramatic ones, for example – but fans of non-stop zombie mayhem will certainly find a nice collection of chuckles here and there.
Although it looks like a typical anthology film, Zombieworld feels more like a collection of international zombie-related shorts that made their way through the festival circuit, and then found themselves a home within this release. There’s a wraparound story (of sorts) about a newscaster who presents zombie attack footage from around the globe, and that’s really the only thing that makes Zombieworld an anthology film instead of simply a collection of short films, but hey, it works well enough as a quick bumper between tales.
The best segments of Zombieworld come at the beginning and the end: “Fist of Jesus” is a wildly over-the-top and enjoyably silly gore-fest in which Jesus Christ squares off against a sea of zombies, and “Brutal Relax” is about a stressed-out weirdo whose beach vacation is interrupted by the arrival of numerous freaky sea zombies who look a lot like The Toxic Avenger. Not surprisingly, both of these shorts come from the same team of clearly insane Spanish filmmakers. In between those two marathons of carnage you’ll find… a truly mixed bag indeed.
Only a few of the shorts are outright snoozers, if it’s me you’re asking, but there are also some legitimately clever ideas scattered across several others. A very brief short involving a zombie-style video game works quite well, as do a few of the weirder jokes in the three-part “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” — which is also shot in unexpectedly creative fashion. And while a handful of these short films are sort of weak (or thematically incongruous), each one showcases a few helpful tips on how pretty much anyone can make a half-decent zombie short, provided they have a camera, a few cool ideas, some loyal friends, and the willingness to get really, really dirty.
I’d say Zombieworld is worth checking out solely for those two Spanish films, because it is, but there are also a few random nuggets of legitimate cleverness and creativity tucked into most of the shorts. It’s certainly not the most consistent “shorts collection/anthology” flick you’ll ever see, but at its best moments, Zombieworld is sort of a hoot. And hey, nobody makes short films to get rich. Keep that in mind and you’ll probably appreciate them a little more.
– Scott Weinberg
ZOMBIEWORLD is available to stream or download here (UK only).