Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bong of the Dead: Jay's Movie of the Week #6


Zombie movies are pervasive enough to factor audience assumptions into their storytelling. Shots to the head, brain-eating, slow shuffling; we hold these truths to be self-evident. Similarly, we accept that the foolish might not only survive, but be rewarded with truly bad-ass chicks for their efforts. (That some of the zombies are downright chatty might not, however, be as palatable to genre purists.)

In Bong of the Dead,Tommy (Jy Harris) and Edwin (Mark Wynn) have ridden out the zombie apocalypse baked, perhaps a perfectly sensible response to the circumstances. (The line between empathizing and mockery is thin for the sober viewer.) So inebriated, they make a logic leap which leads to a Monsanto-worthy moment of marijuana magic. As suspension of disbelief rules in the land of the dead, why can't reanimated brains be the secret ingredient for fertilizing some truly fine bud? There's also a lot of horsing around during the end of the world; this movie could be twenty minutes tighter, but it's a drug comedy. Hijinks had during their meandering road trip to obtain more zombie gray matter for whipping up their green goo are perfectly permissible. Along the way, they acquire Leah (Simone Bailly). She's an aggressive, shotgun-toting, Sarah Connor-inspired beauty straight out of a teenage boy's Sci-Fi dreams.
Bong of the Dead melds stoner comedy to the overdone zombi-com genre with damned admirable results, especially for a film which reportedly cost only five thousand dollars to make. Most of us would be applauded to come up with the prologue (a charming silent film-like sequence involving an elderly couple of lawn gnome enthusiasts at the heart of the outbreak) for that much money. This is movie effects make-up artist Thomas Newman's first film as director, not to mention writer, editor, cinematographer, producer, composer and jack of all trades. It should lead him to bigger things. Everything about this concept is fraught with pitfalls leading straight into truly bad movie territory, and instead he's created a very watchable, entertaining flick. Not only is every penny on screen, he wrings from each buck about a grand's worth of results. Budget limitations have been overcome with style and humor, proving vision and drive can always triumph. (Only the dubbed audio stands out as a distraction.) His solution for how to shower after the zombie-fueled breakdown of society and A-Team meets Dead Alive zombie-killing truck are both genius. Most importantly for a film made by an effects man, the gore here is fantastic; testament to both his skill and evident ability to get ingredients wholesale. The blood and latex flies here in copious quantities. As Newman's one-man-band production, Bong of the Dead is an enjoyable success. All that's missing is a contact buzz.

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