May 14, 2012
Corey Sevier as Chip
Eve Mauro as Dusty
Jasen Wade as Derek
Danielle Churchran as Tomboy
William Rubio as Chapo
By Ian Watson
Osambie. The trouble with silly, gimmicky titles is that, as viewers of Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell will confirm, they’re usually the best part of a moronic, unwatchable film. Kudos to director John Lyde, then, for squeezing a lot from a little and giving us a good looking movie with above average zombie make-up and production values that at no point brings to mind the cheap, stupid tackiness of, say, Nazis At The Centre of the Earth. That’s the good news.
The ‘bad’ is that, for a feature that played European festivals as Osombie: The Axis of Evil Dead, it’s surprisingly conventional in its storytelling and relatively conservative in its bloodletting. Anyone expecting a Troma-esque bad taste extravaganza, which is what the DVD cover art seems to promise, will be disappointed by a fairly generic effort that’s more tongue-in-cheek than outrageous and closer to 2007’s The Hills Have Eyes 2 than Evil Dead 2. And, most criminal of all, Osombie Laden gets less screen time than Adolf’s disembodied head received in They Saved Hitler’s Brain.
Not that there aren’t flashes of deranged brilliance here and there. The opening sequence of Osama unleashing his zombie soldiers on attacking US troops whets the appetite for some Planet Terror style shenanigans that, unfortunately, the picture fails to make good on. You might expect a movie featuring a Yoga instructor from Colorado, who’s looking for her conspiracy nut brother in the mountains of Afghanistan, where he’s gone a-hunting the undead Taliban leader, would have more in the way of Robert Rodriguez-ish over-the-top mayhem. Especially when our heroes are rescued by a platoon of soldiers lead by a shirtless bozo and a samurai sword-wielding hottie. That raises expectations for the kind of gore-drenched assault on good taste the folks responsible for Machine Girl might’ve delivered, but here the characters don’t have enough to do. A more appropriate title might have been Some Guys Who Kill Zombies And Talk A Lot.
Having worked as an editor, cinematographer, producer and screenwriter, director Lyde knows his craft, and having directed thrillers such as 2008’s The Eleventh Hour, he can shoot action. But there’s little on his resume to suggest an affinity for the genre, certainly not the romcom You’re So Cupid (2010) or kid flick Minor Details (2009), and this kind of material needs, if not a Rodriguez, then certainly a Corman or Kaufman, someone willing to get down and dirty and exploitative. Because, you know, if you’re going to use that title, you have to deliver an exploitation movie lest the viewer cry foul.
That said, Lyde’s movie has style to burn, particularly for a low-budget effort, and he does a pretty fair job of doubling Utah for Afghanistan. Osombie may not be as attention-grabbing as its title, but it’s the best (and best looking) movie The Asylum never made. Make of that that what you will.