Justin Timpane’s low budget horror comedy arrived in the UK with the promise of ninjas and zombies, which is rarely a bad thing. It’s hardly inspired though, which is probably why the distributors felt the urge to change the title for its UK premiere. Here the film is known as Zombie Contagion, but Ninjas vs. Zombies has already spawned a sequel back home, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what Ninjas vs. Vampires is all about either. I just hope I’m not unfortunate enough to receive a copy.
Timpane and story consultant Daniel Ross have thrown everything they have at this misguided production, apart from the presence of actual quality. In an attempt to reach the largest audience imaginable, Timpane’s movie comes on like a bizarre mix of science fiction, horror, fantasy, action and comedy. To make matters worse, Timpane claims he took inspiration for the film from movies like Scream, Harry Potter, Serenity, Dawn of the Dead and Chasing Amy. Which is a pretty diverse group of films it has to be said.
It’s fairly obvious he’s a Joss Whedon fan, though it goes without saying that he doesn’t possess the charm, charisma, sense of humour or actual filmmaking talent. The end credits even thank 'Joss Whedon (who doesn’t know we exist)'. To be quite honest with you Justin, there’s a really good reason for that. That’s probably the films funniest moment though, and with references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Indiana Jones, Star Trek and Star Wars bidding for your attention, it soon becomes clear that there’s not much going on in the script department either.
Seven friends find themselves in danger when a long dead loved one is magically resurrected and starts devouring souls. Three of them are magically granted ‘ninja powers’ (and I type that loosely) in order to defeat the horde of zombies chasing them down. Now its up to them to make up for the absence of plot, structure and script, before time runs out and the world is overrun by lacklustre sequels. Damn it… too late. Zombie Contagion is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time, making the films of Seiji Chiba (Alien vs. Ninja) look like a work of genius.
The acting is atrocious from the outset, and the characters they bring to ‘life’ are either annoying stereotypes or just plain annoying. Herman (Will Stendeback) was the chief offender for me, providing the film with its token ‘geek’ character – all Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars references and cheap glasses. The films big bad is painfully dull, devoid of character and cool, and none of the actors seem capable of delivering a line on cue. Which would be a real disappointment if the script was as smart as it thinks it is, but thankfully the writing is largely terrible, with any attempts at humour hammering further nails into an overly crowded coffin.
With the budget estimated to be around $10,000 you can forgive the filmmakers for lousy CGI, but even ignoring the kind of effects you can produce on a home computer system these days, Zombie Contagion has very little going for it beyond hard work, desire and dedication. Timpane should be applauded for attempting to make a movie, but he should also be reminded that the job centre opens on Monday, so it might be in his best interest to leave the filmmaking to people who actually know what they’re doing. Ninjas are thrown into the mix to provide the occasional fight sequence (or filler, as I like to call it) but fail to make the grade in every conceivable way. It’s a complete mess to be honest; a cheap, cheerless, colourful mess that fails to raise even the faintest of smiles. But hey, at least its colourful right?
“I’ve sucked enough souls to make me more powerful than anyone else.” To which arrives the witty retort, “You certainly suck more than anyone else.” Hardly Whedon-esque now, is it? Zombie Contagion is a bad, bad movie that should be avoided at all costs. AW