Monday, December 20, 2010

Toxic Zombies

Toxic Zombies
AKA Bloodeaters
Directed by Charles McCrann
Released: 1980
Starring Charles McCrann, Beverly Shapiro, Dennis Helfend, Kevin Hanlon, Judith Brown
Running Time: 89 minutes

A shady government agent and his crony decide to wipe out some marijuana growers by dusting them and their crops with an untested herbicide. This turns the dirty hippies into bloodthirsty and fleshhungry (okay, that's not word, WTF?) zombies who go on a rampage. It's up to one fish and game inspector named Tom (played by Charles McCrann) to um... well, I was going to say "save the day" but really Tom was just going fishing with his wife Polly (Beverly Shapiro) and kooky brother and happened to be there when all those mellows got harshed.

In the same movie, a very special young man named Jimmy (Kevin Hanlon) and his sister Amy (Judith Brown) are orphaned when their parents get all kinds of devoured by the zombie horde (there's like 4 of them). Tom and Polly rescue the "kids" from danger thus endangering themselves and there's lots and lots of running around in the woods. The four of them take shelter in a shack in the woods filled with a crazy loner named "Hermit" (Dennis Helfend) but things go awry when the zombies miraculously learn how to light torches and bring on the siege. Do I have to go on? Blah blah blah, everyone is killed except for some people who didn't.

My dogged pursuit of every single darn film from my formative years has led me to another dud. While Toxic Zombies isn't all bad, I have to wonder what kind of super perfect attention span I had back in the day. Because this movie has too many of those dangling (and hope-murdering) plot points to fill out its running time. This flick also has too many characters which are introduced very quickly and are given to time to speak their thoughts aloud because the writer didn't trust the viewers to figure out what the fuck is going on ourselves.

I first encountered Toxic Zombies on TV one Saturday afternoon (and I think it was followed by The Loch Ness Horror) when I was probably pretty young. I saw it shortly after I'd seen Night of the Living Dead but years before Dawn of the Dead. And despite my difficulty sitting through this film now (horrible head cold notwithstanding), I can see why this little indie zombie flick stayed in the back of my head all these years. The gore is pretty wet in some places (they cut almost nothing for TV) and the overall mood is surprisingly bleak.

Well, the hammy performances do illicit some laughs and I was particularly charmed by Beverly Shapiro as Polly, the whiniest human female ever captured on film. I feel slightly different about the slightly less enigmatic Judith Brown as Amy or as I call her The Amy. While looking out for her very special brother, she is able to be one helluva strangely alluring old teenager. Director McCrann gave each of these lovely ladies plenty of screentime and saved the movie. Toxic Zombies is no lost classic, that's for sure. It's got that Super 16 charm, plenty of cheap gore (nothing over the top or anything), a piano and synthesizer heavy score, and a little nudity.

Her Adam's apple just exploded.

This is Polly, the best character in the whole movie in the world.

The coolest zombie in the movie. Sadly, very little rampaging from this one.

Collateral damage from the gender wars.

Why is this a Gilbert Gottfried impression? Who couldn't afford the real thing?

Come for the zombie hippies, stay for the tedium.

"Retarded" Jimmy and the The Amy, my favorite 35 year old teenager.

I waited 80 minutes for this fucking guy to show up and advance the plot.


  1. This movie is terrible. So boring. At the time I didn't even realize John Amplas from MARTIN was in it, but now I don't even care enough to go back and check. Ugh. The skinny zombie dude was pretty cool though. I think.