In a world where the zombie has gone mainstream, some folks believe there’s just too much zombie related media in popular culture. I do not necessarily share that opinion. That being said, I was happy when asked to do a review for the upcoming effort Swamp Zombies 2. As someone who is a fan of the subgenre, I figured it’d be best to watch the first Swamp Zombies film before watching the second. When the boss man asked me to do a review for both, I was more than happy to oblige. What follows here will be my review for the original film, with a review dedicated to its sequel appearing in the coming days.
A chief physician at a large metropolitan hospital is formulating a serum to resurrect recently deceased “patients”.When his facility comes under inspection from the federal government, the doctor is forced to dispose of the “patients” as quick as possible even though they are in mid-experiment and he doesn’t know if his serum even will work. With the help of the evil hospital operations manager, he manages to ditch the experiments in the neighboring swamplands. Little do they know, their serum works, the experiments rise to “life” and wreck havoc on a group of students conducting science experiments at the swamplands. With the help of a swamp hermit, a beautiful innocent bystander, a park ranger, and the police captain they try to piece together what has gone on… as well as survive!
The basic plot of Swamp Zombies!!! is one of the best parts of the film, in my opinion. It’s more than just a crazy scientist developing a serum to bring the dead back to life. I really liked the idea of having a government agency involved, and I thought the discarded experiments crashing a school biology field trip was fun. While not overly complicated, it provided just enough extra detail to be more than just your run of the mill mad scientist zombie flick.
Besides acting, it seems one of the hardest parts to nail in independent horror is creating the atmosphere. That being said, Swamp Zombies didn’t completely miss the mark. While the production value wasn’t overwhelming, you could still get a sense of the hopelessness of the zombie apocalypse at certain points throughout the film.
Unfortunately, this really wasn’t that scary. This isn’t a huge knock, though. It takes A LOT for a zombie film to truly be scary, and its understandable that the makers of this film had neither the budget nor the production value to really deliver the scares. While the score here is low, it is important to note that, for me at least, whether or not a movie scares me isn’t the ultimate determiner of whether or not I’d recommend it.
A lot of times the special effects in an independent horror film are laughable. Fortunately, that wasn’t really the case with Swamp Zombies!!!. While a lot of the firearm effects were lacking, the gore effects were not terrible. Nothing really blew me away, but it was nice to see the effort made with practical effects.
An interesting thing about this movie was its cast. There were a few very recognizable names in it. As a fan of professional wrestling, it was interesting to see Brian Heffron (AKA The Blue Meanie), Dan “The Beast” Severn, and Jasmin St. Claire, all who have spent considerable time in the squared circle (altough St. Claire rose to fame first as an adult film star). That being said, the acting wasn’t all that great, even laughable at some points. The “star power” wasn’t quite enough to make up for the other acting shortcomings.
It is not always easy reviewing no budget independent horror movies. They need to be reviewed in context. If you’re expecting some blockbuster, you will no doubt be disappointed. Is Swamp Zombies!!! a particularly good film? Well…not really. For starters, the movie was entirely too long, clocking it at over two hours. While I did enjoy the zombie kung fu scenes, they seemed to carry on forever. However, I think it also important to recognize that not everyone knocks the ball out of the park on their first try. This was Len Kabasinski’s first time in the directors chair, and he’s directed a lot more since then, and is getting favorable reviews on IMDB. It’s ok if you never actually sit down and watch Swamp Zombies!!!, but never, EVER, stop supporting independent horror.