I think it is one of the generally agreed upon notions that zombie films are often regarded as the dregs of the horror cinema field. It seems just about anyone can make a zombie film. The requisite ingredients seem pretty simple – lots of blood and gore, loads of pale-faced extras and the thinnest of plots to maximize the use of such elements. There have been all manner of cheap, terrible zombie movies over the last three and a half decades, the bulk of which seemingly coming from the undisputed kings of the genre, the Italians. But that isn’t to say that there have not been plenty of stateside zombie flicks that were truly awful, because there have been. Anyone who has sat through Fred Olen Ray’s Alien Dead can attest to that.
Zombie horror has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years with both serious efforts, such as the Dawn of the Dead remake and George Romero’s Land of the Dead, as well as the more comical, like Britain’s Shaun of the Dead. Hide and Creep is the result of taking the energy and enthusiasm, but not quite the same budget, of Shaun of the Dead and setting the film in the deep south. Alabama to be precise. In a sort of Rednecks vs. Zombies mini-epic, this film is absolutely bursting with energy and comic fun.
The film opens with Chuck, the owner of a video rental store, lecturing someone on the phone about zombie movies. The very next morning Chuck is attacked by a zombie and manages to dispatch it. Like a good citizen he calls the police, but the Chief is out of town and the deputy on call has managed to get himself shanghaied after a drunken night on the town. What is a guy to do? Well, Chuck drops the body off at the station to the horror of receptionist Barbara and then proceeds on his merry way. Elsewhere, the members of a gun club have their own encounters with the living dead. Toss in a semi naked guy who awakens to find himself abandoned in the woods after a possible alien abduction and who obsesses more about his lost car than his missing girlfriend, a loony agent from the Department of Homeland Defense who parachutes into town, a long suffering local preacher who ends up hitting more than the bottle before his unforgettable final sermon, enough crazy southern characters to populate several Smokey and the Bandit films, plenty of wry references to famous horror movies and what you end up with is a flick with too much comic material for it’s own good. It is a credit to the producers that restraint is showed and the movie doesn’t bombard the viewer into sensory overload with all the possible jokes.
For me, Hide and Creep is an excellent example of creativity, energy, wit and enthusiasm triumphing over a small budget. Yes, things are pretty cheap here, with some rather elementary gore FX and a severe lack of any mood or atmosphere. The actors may not be master thespians but all of them play their parts with gusto and appear to be enjoying themselves immensely. The fact that the characters are written to behave more like real people helps in their portrayal. There are a few over the top moments – this is a comedy after all, but the film sparkles with an underlying wit that belies the low budget. The movie never does explain why the dead have returned to life and are overrunning this small Alabama town, and while that may be a major sticking point for some, it doesn’t really effect the events in the film to any degree. If you’re a fan of zombie films, check this one out. If you’re a fan of satirical horror, check this one out. If you happen to be a fan of satirical zombie films, then you are in luck. Ignore the low budget constraints and concentrate on the writing, you won’t be disappointed. Besides…any zombie flick that features a make-out/dining scene between two hot stripper zombies cannot be all that bad!
Final Grade: 4 out of 5