George: A Zombie Intervention (2009) – By Cary Conley

In the near future, a mysterious spore from outer space turns corpses into the living dead. So just a few hours after death, every corpse is reanimated and becomes a zombie. It just so happens, though, that everything we know about zombies isn’t necessarily true. They aren’t just mindless, undead monsters that feed on human flesh…well, at least not all of them. In fact, most zombies maintain their intelligence and can interact with humans on a fairly normal basis. They can hold conversations, they can work, and they can even enter into relationships.

But not everything is hunky-dory. All zombies do enjoy the taste of human flesh and they have to be trained not to succumb to their deepest desire. And sometimes the zombies go bad, turning into the soulless, flesh-eating monsters most of us know and fear.

George is a zombie, and typically well-behaved. But lately, he has had trouble resisting the temptation to feast on the meat of humans. His best friend, Ben (Peter Stickles, best known for his role in the art-porn film Shortbus), his sister, his ex-girlfriend and her new–and obnoxious–beau decide George needs an intervention before his craving causes him to lose control.

Along with another of George’s friends who shows up to the session completely drunk, the friends hire a flaky interventionist who has just graduated from school; George will be her first real intervention. Together, this eclectic group of people confront George in an effort to help him curb his appetite. But people keep disappearing only to show up later partially eaten. Is it too late for George? Will his friends and family have to abandon him in order to protect themselves? Or is someone else at the intervention hungry, too?

Anyone with a passing interest in the zombie genre should know that any zombie film that uses the name "George" in the title is going to be an homage to the Father of Zombie Movies, George Romero. In fact, director J.T. Seaton has gone to great lengths to give a tip of the hat not only to zombie films, but also to B-movie horror films in general. For me, that was the best part of this gory zombie comedy: trying to catch all the little in-jokes. Some of the "homages" are pretty blunt and easy to catch. For instance, the ditzy interventionist is played by the still sexy Lynn Lowry, who is still quite attractive even though she is now in her early 60’s. Genre enthusiasts remember Lowry fondly as one of the stars of several classic b-horror films of the 70’s like I Drink Your Blood (1970), Romero’s The Crazies (1973), David Cronenberg’s They Came from Within (AKA Shivers–1975) and the big-budget remake of Cat People (1982).

Other in-jokes include the names of many of the characters (Peter Stickles’ character is named Ben and Lowry’s character is Barbra–and if you don’t catch on to what the director is doing here, you probably aren’t much of a zombie connoisseur). There are even a few obscure jokes that probably only hard-core fans will understand (how many people know what a C.H.U.D. is?). There are also some scenes that remind me very much of everyone’s favorite zombie, Day of the Dead’s "Bub". But while the in-jokes are fun for fans of horror films in general and zombie films in particular, the movie isn’t so much a horror film as it is comedy. The jokes and quips are fast and furious and even devolve into infantile slapstick routines at times. An example of this is when George and his ex-girlfriend’s new man begin to argue only for the verbal sparring to break down into a bitch-slap fest, much like the stereotypical girl fight. While most of the comedy is pretty lame, some of the best lines come from the drunken friend who apparently has very vivid dreams of a sexual nature when he passes out from drinking heavily. I laughed out loud at some of his lines.

The film is gory, but more in the style of H.G. Lewis than anything terribly realistic. And again, in an attempt tolighten the mood, many of these scenes are played for laughs, such as when a zombie feasts on the buttock of a dead victim. While we get to see the wound and the pound of flesh that was removed from said buttock, the entire effect is more comedic than gross-out. Other effects are laughable enough as to not offend due to violence, such as the removal of one girl’s breast (the obviously fake rubber breast is summarily slapped onto a plate before a zombie attacks it with fork and knife).

There are several high notes in the film, one of my favorites being the opening animated sequence. This opening scene, played as an animated educational film for elementary schools, introduces this new zombie world to the audience clearly and concisely and in a fun and unique way. As the film ends and we enter the real-life world of George, we know exactly what’s going on in this parallel universe and how this zombie plague started. Director Seaton has also seen fit to populate the film with gorgeous eye candy. All the women are very attractive and certainly are a high point of the film. Seaton even adds a completely ridiculous topless scene that serves no purpose except to further reinforce the B-movie status of this film. It’s as if Seaton is telling us that he knows he’s not making the next Oscar winner; he’s out to have fun and we get to come along for the ride.

Unfortunately, the whole film begins to wear rather quickly. The comedy isn’t as funny as it should be (although Lowry plays her role to perfection) and the story quickly breaks down into a series of set pieces used to stage the next bloody but amateurish killing. An hour in and I was feeling the tedium and was tempted to use the fast-forward button on my remote control.

Overall, George: A Zombie Intervention is a mixed bag. If you are a fan of infantile comedy, B-movie horror, or films that are packed with homages to a certain genre, then you may have fun with this movie. But zombie-comedies are starting to wear thin and many viewers may not be satisfied with this particular entry. The film will be released by Vicious Circle on October 4. More information can be found at www.breakingglasspictures.com.