Native Americans vs. Zombies in a Grim, Effective Film
Movie / Post-Apocalypse / Underrated
With so many low-budget zombie movies sneaking in through streaming services or film festivals, it’s easy to miss unexpected quality and creativity when it appears. Here’s an example.
Blood Quantum (sorry, kind of an awful and pretty much inexplicable name) has your standard virus-based flesh-eaters, and the opening scenes that establish it are deceptively familiar. But the truly intriguing part comes after a timeshift, as we focus on the stories that rotate around the effect of the zombie apocalypse on the First Nations and an already devastated Mi’kmaq reservation – a reservation that survives because Native Americans seem to be immune to the zombie virus, maybe because of their connection to the Earth itself.
Virtually all the principle players here are Native Americans, and many of them came from and went on to fascinating careers. Elle-Maija Tailfeathersis a multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer and director; her co-star Michael Greyeyes paid his zombie-dues in multiple episodes of Fear the Walking Dead,showed up after Blood Quantum, in the not-wonderful V Wars, and was excellent in the underrated mystery series Home Before Dark. He also has the dubious distinction of playing Rainbird in the otherwise awful remake if Firestarterin 2022. No George C. Scott, maybe, but at least the part was played, more than passably well, by an actual member of the First Nations as Stephen King meant it to be. The writer and director, Jeff Barnaby, is a member of the Mi’kmaq himself, and continues his work on projects based on the realities and fantasies of native Americans, past present and future.
It’s a bleak and brutal plot and worldview, but not without good reason, and probably one of the best – and most overlooked – ‘serious’ zombie movies of the decade.
Zombies Attack Walmart (or something worse!)
Movie / Dark Action Comedy / SlowZombies
Horror Comedy, the mother of all oxymorons, is very tough to do well… but that doesn’t keep filmmakers from trying. Over and over. And hey, it doesn’t have to beShaun of the Dead orTucker and Dale vs. Evil to be worth a look.
So where would we put Black Friday, a 2021 entry in the Comedy Horror Olympics that starts with the all-too-real horror of the ruthlessness, cruelty, and utter madness of shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving, then postulates what happens when those shoppers go full-tilt zombie, thanks to some goo that looks like it came right out of The Stuff, a zombie-adjacent movie that we’ll talk about eventually.
Yeah, it’s funny. Not laugh-out-loud, roll-in-the-produce-aisle hilarious, but on the other hand it has Bruce Campbell – yeah, post-Ash, post-Burn Notice Bruce, at his 2021 doughy best, complete with a bushy mustache and a dickish attitude, teamed up/at odds with Devon Sawa, fresh out of the new Chucky series by way of Final Destination and Idle Hands, the last of which is another zombie-adjacent film we’ll have to cover.
There are some cool swipes at consumerism, corporate callousness, and the death of the American Dream throughout the surprisingly graphic all-night adventure, and though the ending gets a little too Ghostbusters(the first one, the good one) to work entirely well, but it’s a solid piece of comedy horror. It’s no Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix’s amazing book about a haunted/cursed IKEA that has no zombies, but you’ll like it anyway, and… hey! Bruce Campbell! Being a dick!