(Ed. note: In his sacrificial role as our intrepid cult and underground reviewer, Scott follows up a grimaced, Quirky Queue look at two silly, lesser-known zombie movies with two more. A scary sight to be sure, just in time for Halloween. If you love these two movie posters — and we do — just click on them for a bigger look.)
:: Tokyo Zombie, 2005
3 / 5 stars
This goofy Japanese film mixes more genres than the average Bollywood movie. It may be the only horror / satire / melodrama / martial arts / slapstick comedy ever made. Even odder is that Tokyo Zombie seems like two different movies slammed together.
Mitsuo and his naive and inept apprentice Fujio work in a factory where they spend their days training in jiu jitsu. Just outside the door is “Black Fuji,” a mountain of garbage, soot, and toxic waste, where people bury anything they want to get rid of, from old appliances to dead bodies and living mothers-in-law. When the buried dead start rising and craving flesh, our heroes decide a road trip is in order.
Halfway through the film, we are plunged forward five years, where Fujio is stuck in a post-apocalyptic city ruled by the super-rich, who entertain themselves by pitting survivors against zombies in death matches. This second half of the movie is much more interesting as we are treated to a darkly dystopian future where Mad Max meets George Romero. Although the film features some original scenes, it seems as if it could have
offered a lot more. Still, Tokyo Zombie is just so bewilderingly bizarre that, for the undead fan, it’s definitely a film you want under your belt for those cocktail party conversations.
:: Sugar Hill, 1974
2 / 5 stars
No list of cult movies is complete without entries from blaxploitation cinema, and Sugar Hill is one of the few zombie films in the popular sub-genre. This piece of cheese, produced by B-movie guru Samuel Z. Arkoff (Beach Blanket Bingo and Die, Monster, Die!), takes place in the American South, where Diana “Sugar” Hill is out for revenge against the local white mobsters who killed her nightclub-owner lover. She enlists the help of elderly voodoo priestess Mama Maitresse and together they summon Baron Samedi, voodoo god of the dead.
Samedi aids Hill’s quest for vengeance by raising an army made up of dead slaves from the 19th century — while these
zombies are incredibly well preserved for having been lying in the ground for over 100 years, they still have spooky, black/silver orbs for eyes and are covered in cobwebs. Some traditional zombie cliches, but Sugar Hill is a throwback to the original zombie flicks with their roots firmly implanted in voodoo myth and ritual. Even with its derivative theme song (“Supernatural Voodoo Woman”), weak make-up and poor production values, the film still provides some kitschy entertainment… even if it’s mostly via incompetent performances and ridiculously inane dialogue.
Sugar Hill does have some bright spots, namely the wonderfully theatrical performance by 1970s television staple character actor Don Pedro Colley as Baron Samedi, the inclusion of the great Zara Culley (the grandmother on The Jeffersons), and a young Richard Lawson (Poltergeist) as a police detective on the trail of Hill’s grizzly voodoo murders.