Punk Fu Zombie 2017
Hochelaga, 2048. It’s been over 20 years since Quebec finally gained independence through the efforts of a movement led by the powerful Charles Maurice. His eventual rise to Prime Minister, however, may not have been all that legal. This major political upheaval will shake up the social classes and bring out demonic creatures that attack the population. One man will become the beacon of peace amongst the chaos overtaking this new country. That man is Zach, Charles Maurice’s son, an irresponsible bum who becomes the leader of an elite team, whose mission is to re-establish peace between the ninjas, punks and rat-people who are trying to survive this zombie infestation.
Philippe Beaulieu-Poulin, Gabriel Claveau, Jerome Cloutier, and Dany Foster
Stéphane Messier, Xavier Dumontier, and Tommy Gaudet
In response to excessively snarky critics, I’ve often stated that there’s no such thing as an intentionally bad film; the sheer volume of effort necessary to bring a movie to fruition is so monumental, no one would enter into it lightly; and since there are easier ways to make a buck than indie filmmaking, it’s silly to think anyone involved is expecting a cash grab. Punk Fu Zombie, directed by Gabriel Claveau may just prove me wrong—and right. In many respects, it would have been easier to make a better-looking film; advances in filming technologies have made studio quality cameras and software available to even the most novice up-and-comers. Claveau and his team must have gone to great length to make a film that looks this shitty, and the fact that they used 3 different cameras is proof. The zombie makeup is deceptively basic; it looks as though the paint has been haphazardly smeared onto shambling extras, but the palate achieved is a spot-on recreation of 1970s and 80s era zombie films (most notably, George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead).
Bad actors making genuine attempts at emoting their dialogue could have given better performances than the cast of Punk Fu Zombie, but that wasn’t the point. The director demanded an intense level of deadpan emoting and intentional miss-delivery that couldn’t have been easy to maintain for an entire shoot. The performances weren’t uneven, they were consistently, technically terrible. Likewise, they could have easily pulled props from a thrift store or a junk yard, but it’s clear major effort was put into constructing costumes and backdrops that were consistently hideous. The special FX are an affront to the expectations of modern movie goers, expertly fashioned to look less than realistic. So while there may be a knee-jerk impulse to dismiss Punk Fu Zombie for its limited budget and guerilla aesthetic (like I was tempted to do), you’ll soon be convinced that few films are as intentionally crafted and deliberately presented as this one.
Of course, if you’re into retro, modern-grindhouse films reminiscent of the drive-in era, you won’t need any more convincing after checking out the trailer.
Official Synopsis: Hochelaga, 2048. It’s been over 20 years since Quebec finally gained independence through the efforts of a movement led by the powerful Charles Maurice. His eventual rise to Prime Minister, however, may not have been all that legal. This major political upheaval will shake up the social classes and bring out demonic creatures that attack the population. One man will become the beacon of peace amongst the chaos overtaking this new country. That man is Zach, Charles Maurice’s son, an irresponsible bum who becomes the leader of an elite team, whose mission is to re-establish peace between the ninjas, punks and rat-people who are trying to survive this zombie infestation. Growing up during this adventure, Zach will quickly discover that the enemies aren’t necessarily who they seem and that his dad may not be the messiah he built himself up to be.
Punk Fu Zombie is produced by Douteux.org. Operating for over 10 years, “Douteux.org is described as an organization focused on the preservation of cinematic and televised material that needs to be re-appraised. (Source) This community factor most likely explains why Claveau lists 3 co-writers on IMDB. Indeed, there’s a collective energy, an esprit de corps that permeates the entire film, and it greatly enhanced my overall enjoyment.
The film opens on a day when Quebec becomes an independent country, essentially succeeding from Canada. The excessively celebratory atmosphere that follows, however, is damped by the simultaneous outbreak of a virulent strain of Walking Dead Syndrome (one we assume was unintentionally unleashed in a bad batch of blue cocaine). I don’t know much (anything) about politics in Quebec, so I can’t say whether this parallels actual attitudes (albeit in exaggerated form). It’s just as probable, though, that the scenario is a satirical jab at Brexit and the resurgence of American nationalism that erupted in advance of last November’s presidential election. Either way, this set-up is our first clue that Punk Fu Zombie has more up its sleeve than just guts, gusto, and nostalgia.
There’s another horror subset who could find themselves especially enamored by Punk Fu Zombie: The stoners. I decided to make a game out of the film’s excessive references to marijuana, taking a hit from my own bong every time reluctant messiah Zach (played by Xavier Dumontier) sparked a doobie. Whether this is why I found myself enjoying the film more as it progressed is open for debate; suffice to say, you better be a heavyweight if you plan on playing the game yourself. The Punk Fu clan of post-apocalyptic scavengers consider their compound an oasis for one main reason: They have the best weed. Their intense love of Ganga, however, makes them poor allies when Zach and his enemy-turned-lover Claudine (Caroline Dansereau-Loiselle) seek an alliance for an epic battle with Homa (the headquarters of Quebec’s authoritarian regime). While these pot references are amusing, there’s a foil to the fun; the presentation of mind-control substances used to keep the ghetto masses pacified are part of a formula for subservience based on a concoction of drugs, welfare, and mindless entertainment.
By intentionally dumbing-down every aspect of the film, Punk Fu Zombie throws back the curtain in a way few films are able. The terrible FX, stunted dialog, and absurdly choreographed battle scenes constantly remind us that nothing we are seeing is real. When there’s no shock in the gore, no soul in the characters, and nothing to look at that isn’t rusty, fake, or dirty, all that’s left is the message. The fact that the dialog is sometimes delivered with excessive melodrama doesn’t detract from the words (if you can stop laughing long enough to listen to them). The undead aren’t the real enemy of this or any zombie film, one can argue; the real monsters are nationalism, consumerism, and apathy.
Bottom Line: Fans of retro horror and modern grindhouse will love Punk Fu Zombie and its irreverent mash-up of undead, mutants, and ninjas. I’m happy to say I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would, even though this aesthetic and presentation isn’t my preferred cup of tea. Fans of realistic portrayals of zombie gore and violence, as well as dramatic and emotional expositions, should take a hard pass, but aficionados of low-fi, guerilla horror should keep their eyes peeled for Punk Fu Zombie when it arrives on VOD.