Belgium zombie comedy has Michael (Bart Hollanders) taking his girlfriend Alison (Maaike Neuville) and her mother Sylvia (Annick Christiaens) to an obscure clinic to have plastic surgery. There is some kind of strange experimentation going on there and when Michael releases a patient (Louise Bergez) he finds bound to a stretcher and muzzled, he unleashes one of the side effects of said experiments, a flesh-eating zombie. Soon Michael and company are trapped inside the hospital surrounded by hordes of hungry undead.
Flick is directed by Lars Damoiseaux from his script with Eveline Hagenbeek. There is nothing new here zombie flick-wise, but the film does have a manic energy during it’s action sequences and the expected gore is abundant and well done. There are some funny bits, a flaming penis gag being one of the standouts, and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at only 88 minutes. There are a few spots where the film stops dead…pun might be intended…for exposition, but otherwise it’s fast paced and can be bloody fun at times. If anything, it never tries to be more than it is. Nothing new, but an amusing zombie comedy if you aren’t burnt out on this overrun sub-genre.
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Story for this flick is simple. Brothers Josh (Wings Hauser) and Mike (Lee Montgomery) are on a bonding getaway when they are forced off a rural road by a group of locals. This leads them to staying in a small town, one unfortunately close to a chemical dumping site. The chemicals are slowly changing the locals into vicious killers and when Mike disappears, Josh joins forces with cute teacher Holly (Jody Medford) and alcoholic sheriff Will (Bo Hopkins) to investigate. Soon it becomes a fight to survive as the infected locals multiply and overrun the town, killing everyone they come across.
Mutant is basically a zombie flick as directed by John “Bud” Cardos (The Day Time Ended, The Dark) from a script by Peter Z. Orton, Michael Jones and John C. Kruize. Cardos’ direction is rather straight forward and by-the-numbers, though it moves well enough. For a zombie film, it’s got minimal bloodshed, despite a high body count and really doesn’t crank up the action till the last act. It’s still a fun horror flick and there is plenty of 80s nostalgia now, all these years later. The zombies, or infected, are fast moving and their touch burns their intended victims, much like in the 1980 flick The Children, which also featured toxic chemical zombies. They also have an aversion to bright light and can be gunned down easily without the necessity for a head shot. There is also the usual out-of-towners vs redneck locals subplot, here, too, especially before anyone starts believing Josh that something is terribly wrong. Add to that a conspiracy/cover-up sub-plot that works well and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The last scene at the gas station is pretty intense and makes for a solid climax. On a production level, the film looks good and makes good use of it’s rural Georgia locations. The make-up FX, including some cool Howling-esque transformations, are well done. The zombies look scary and Cardos isn’t afraid to have children fall victim to them or become them. There is a low gore quotient, but the attacks still have impact. Flick also has some atmosphere and overall is a good time.
It has a fun cast. Wings Hauser is his usual bug-eyed self and it’s fun to see him play a good guy, as he is best known for portraying the psychotic pimp “Ramrod” in 1982’s Vice Squad. Jody Medford makes for a very likable heroine as local school teacher and bartender, Holly. Despite being attractive and charming, she only did one other movie, Chained Heat. Veteran actor Bo Hopkins is also solid as the drunk sheriff, who sort of transforms into a noble hero over the course of the film. The supporting cast are all fine in their roles, including Lee Montgomery (Burnt Offerings) in the brief role of Mike and Close Encounters of the Third Kind’s Cary Guffey as student Billy.
In conclusion, this was a surprisingly good time on the revisit. Actually caught this flick in a theater in 1984 and was disappointed, back in the day, that it wasn’t more in the style of Dawn of the Dead or Zombie. With those expectations gone, it’s now a nostalgic and fun monster movie and one of the earliest films to portray it’s zombies as more fast moving and vicious. Cardos may not have been the most stylish director, but his workman approach suits the small town setting and rural local characters and keeps the film grounded. A fun zombie flick that does things a little different.
Rated 3 (out of 4) permed and bug-eyed Wings Hausers.
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Exit Humanity is an interesting approach to a typical zombie story. It is told by a narrator (Brian Cox) and in chapters from a journal by Confederate soldier, Edward Young (Mark Gibson) who details the story of a zombie outbreak that occurs just as the Civil War is ending and the personal quest he embarks on in the midst of it.
Director/writer John Geddes does give us a lot of the traditional zombie movie elements like the flesh eating, the shot to the head and the humans who are worse then the ravenous zombies, but, also gives us a unique setting, some nicely visualized dream sequences and even some really cool flashbacks and montage sequences done with animation. The make up effects are good, although the film lacks the abundant gore fans look for, and Gibson makes a nice hero trying to keep his humanity despite what is happening around him. There are some flaws that keep the film from being a really strong entry in the zombie sub-genre as the pace is rather slow, the film is a tad long, and despite his novel touches and setting, there really isn’t anything new story-wise here, or themes that others haven’t touched on before in these films…although, the cause of his zombie plague was a cool twist once revealed.
Aside from a serviceable lead in Mark Gibson, the cast also includes genre favorites Dee Wallace as Eve a healer thought to be a witch and Bill Moseley as General Williams a megalomanic who wants to find a cure to the zombie plague, so he may become rich and powerful. Williams doesn’t care how many innocents die while his outmatched doctor (Stephen McHattie) experiments on both the dead and the living.
All in all, it’s not bad and certainly worth a watch if you like zombie movies and, most of all, John Geddes shows some nice potential as a filmmaker and some growth after the OK cannibal horror Scarce. He utilizes his more unique touches well, he frames his shots very nicely and pulls off some effective moments. A nice, though not without it’s flaws, horror flick from Mr. Geddes.