Originally written and published on zombietraining.com on October 3, 2013.
You can tell that director/writer Kevin King has a love of films. His directorial debut, Zombie Hunter, is filled with homages to some great post-apocalyptic and horror films of the past, however, not all of them work, but for the most part the film still delivers.
Set six months after a zombie apocalypse that was caused by the long-term affects of a highly potent and addictive street drug called Natas (think about it), a leather jacket wearing loner known only as the Hunter (Martin Copping), drives through the wastelands of rural America in a suped-up Chevrolet Camaro killing as many “Eaters” as he can. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Max Rockatansky drove the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland as a leather-clad cynical drifter battling nomadic bandits in the 1981 film The Road Warrior. Though not as cool or pragmatic as Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Mad Max, Martin Copping does a good job at portraying the zombie hunter who is haunted by the loss of his wife and young daughter, and is on a self-destructive mission to rid the world of as many flesh-eaters as possible. We later find out why he is so self-destructive, and though the reason behind it is not original, it does add depth to the character.
After Hunter flips his car and is injured, he is helped by a band of survivors led by Danny Trejo’s Father Jesus, who has a plan of escape. That is if they can get through the cannibalistic residents of the town of Dahmer to an abandoned airfield, where they hope to find a plane for Jerry (Terry Guthrie) to fly everyone to one of the uninhabited islands of the Channel Islands of California. Rounding off our band of survivors is the busty nympho Debbie (Jade Regier), the virgin Alison (Clare Niederprüm) and her horny 15-year old brother Ricky (Jason K. Wixom), and the overweight Lyle (Jake Suazo).
Danny Trejo’s portrayal of the tough-as-nails, axe swinging priest is a solid performance as one should expect of a actor of his caliber, but his character is under developed and killed off way too soon in the film despite the intentional marketing ploy of Trejo prominently appearing on the Blu-ray cover. The remainder of our cast all put great efforts into making their intentionally exaggerated characters believable, while dealing with some questionable dialog that leaves you wondering if it was written that way in an attempt to be campy and witty—mostly being neither—or if it was lack of experience?
As for the script plot, it leaves you with more questions than answers. What was the point of the deranged, chainsaw-wielding, mask-wearing clown? Was it just your homage to Leatherface or just a way to kill off another character? What was the purpose of the reversed crosses in the abandoned church? What was the origin of the Resident Evil style Lickers? Was this the evolution of the cannibals who ate flesh-eaters or just another declaration to films that influenced you?
Even with the scripts shortcomings, King and cast throw their hearts and souls into this endeavor, which is the saving grace to this film. The Grindhouse style direction, the deadpan voice-over narration of the main protagonist, the blood spurting practical effects, and infectious soundtrack help to make this an entertaining B-movie flick.
Now for the ratings…
Zombie Content: 6 – Zombies a plenty with some good makeup and practical effects, but the Resident Evil style CGI monsters appear videogamish and not menacing.
Entertainment Value: 5 – It’s a campy, action-packed, blood-splattered filled film and a good first effort from writer/director Kevin King.
Defense and Tactics: 4 – Nothing we haven’t seen before. A lot of shootouts and head decapitations.
ZT Rating: 15 points out of a possible 30 gives this 5.0 rating. Some bad dialog and script holes, but an enthusiastic cast that turns in some solid performances, though at times over exaggerated. Zombie Hunter isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, but that doesn’t make it a bad film and is still worth the watch.
The direct to video Zombie Hunter gets a simultaneous Blu-ray and DVD release on October 8th.