Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies
Lonnie, a crop duster pilot, must lead a mismatched group of survivors to escape the deadly zombie horde after an experimental chemical, intended to control the invasive kudzu vine, transforms the citizens of Charleston, MS into zombies.
Moses J. Moseley
I believe it was Russell Crowe as Maximus in 2000’s Gladiator who once yelled out, “Are you not entertained!?”
And along with that burning question, as I finished up my latest screener, I also had the thought… “You just never know”.
Sitting down with barely any preconceived notions – armed only with the schlocky title Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies – I didn’t know what to expect (“you just never know”)…
But to fall IN LOVE with the film?
I’m sure that was the furthest thought from my mind.
In the tradition of recent “Attack” films of the past year (Attack of the Killer Donuts, Attack of the Killer Shrews), the title pretty much sums up what you can expect from this indie flick released by Gravitas Ventures.
Originally titled Kudzu Zombies (referencing the invasive vine species seen across the south), Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies follows Lonnie (the adorable Timothy Haug); a crop-dusting pilot who never got out of his small Southern town. He’s also got big dreams for his uncle’s meat-pie business. When a zombie outbreak occurs (via the overuse of the chemicals Lonnie has been spraying), he must band together with his ex-girlfriend Kayla (Wyntergrace Williams) who is back from college (she escaped their small town) and over a half dozen of the little town’s other rag-tag residents to combat this spreading anarchy – just as the community is celebrating a food and music festival in the city-square.
My regular readers have heard/read this before, so prepare yourself for the broken record.
When examining performances in a film of this kind, it’s most important that the actors understand what the tone of the overall film is – and this will determine the choices they make to portray their characters. I’ve seen plenty of horror/comedies which contain actors unsure of the kind of film they are in (which means there’s a directing failure as well). Every single one of the lead actors in Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies gets it.
And what makes everything better is the addition of several – what I would term as “local actors” mixed in with the more professional actors of the main cast. And they all will endear themselves to an audience, as they practically look into the camera, woodenly deliver the few lines they’re given and basically show off their complete lack of experience.
But in a film like this – that works. It’s acceptable and hell – it adds to the joyful goofiness.
Most of the zombie munching is done practically, but gunshots and explosions – you just know they were done in post-production. You won’t buy for a moment that these weren’t computer-generated and they look cheap as hell. But again, with the overall tone of the film – these things are all forgivable.
Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies is the kind of movie you need to sit back and simply enjoy. If you pick apart certain things (sure, there’s plenty with which to take issue), you’re sort of missing the point. It’s there to be fun, goofy and – as I mentioned above – to entertain.
But the best thing about the entire film? The perfectly timed and placed homage to Tom Savini’s “Blade” character in 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. As Trish (Kaitlin Mesh) is about to plant her machete into the head of a zombie flailing about on the ground, she throws out the line, “Say good-bye, creep!”, before slamming that blade deep into the flesh-eater’s skull. It garnered an honest-to-goodness squeal of delight from me. Yes. Yes. And yes. Well done!
What sets this film apart from similar films mentioned above – is that the razor-thin concept of such ideas – in this particular case, this idea was enough to keep my interest all the way through. In Attack of the Killer Donuts for example – it was enjoyable, but the flimsy central conceit runs out of gas by the halfway mark (if not earlier). Not the case here.
I absolutely loved that the filmmakers clearly had (at least what appeared to be) full run of the little town where the movie was shot. And what makes it even better? The fact that as crazy, zombie chaos scenes were shot, in the background, you could see cars leisurely driving down side streets – obviously unaware that a film was being made. And so the filmmakers could probably try and pass it off as panicked townies on the run, but the slow-moving vehicles tell a different tale. However, this helped to endear the entire production even further.
And God help me. There’s actually a moment of real sadness as one of the characters is dispatched. I won’t spoil who, but I felt some connection to the character and when they eventually succumb to the zombie horror, I let out an audible, “awwww”. For a film which thrives on its wackiness, constant blood-letting and 2-dimensional characterizations – to say that finding some real sympathy for one of these folks was a genuine surprise, well – that’s an understatement!
This film knows what it is. It’s not trying to be overly-political or trying to tear to shreds so many societal norms (a la the best of Romero’s zombie films). And it doesn’t rely on the smartest of story-telling or the best of performances or the most convincing effects.
But dammit, it’s a rip-roaring, zombie-munching good time at the movies.
And as I respond to Maximus’ query from the tip-top of the article… or as I turn to the filmmaking team behind Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies, I can firmly state, “Yes I was most definitely entertained.”
So, mission accomplished. Would I have expected to be quite so enamored with a film entitled, Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies? Rewind to my other comment of, “You just never know.” So take a chance on this one!
A fun bit of trivia: Moses J. Moseley appears in the main cast as Robbie. You might know Mr. Moseley as one of Michonne’s “Pet Walkers” on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies is scheduled for a limited theatrical release, as well as on DVD and VOD on March 13th, 2018.