Friday, December 8, 2006

Now Playing: SARS WARS: Bangkok Zombie Crisis

First off, that title is one of the greatest ones I've ever heard and I've heard plenty of them. Second, the film is an absolutely silly cartoon of a flick that will either make you howl with laughter or righteously test your patience. For me, I was definitely laughing start to finish. Just look at the cover art and you'll either want to see a flick like this or not.

SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis is many things but deadly serious it is not. The SARS virus has apparently mutated through several forms and spread like wildfire across the globe with only Thailand being spared. That changes courtesy of a bug that escapes from an infected Africa and lands in Bangkok. At the same time, the daughter of a high-profile gangster is kidnapped by some rather ridiculous thugs who hold her in a residential tower downtown. Her father's friend unleashes his "greatest student" and instructs him to rescue the girl from the tower. About the time he gets there is when the infection starts to spread to the residents and all manner of insanity are unleashed simultaneously.

The film establishes right from the start that it's a wild bit of low-budget insanity. The kidnapping itself is just bizarre but if you find yourself even the slightest bit amused then you're good to go for the rest. What makes things even funnier is how the characters don't so much change the rules of the film's universe so much as they make them up as they go along. One minute a horde of zombies are slaughtering party goers and the next a surly old mentor whips out a laser sword while a giant snake eats everything in sight.

Again, you'll either run with it or run from it.

I especially got a huge kick from the self-referential nature of the dialogue. When a government agent holds up a special weapon and proudly says her fellow associates created it, a reporter bemoans the fact that it was "made in Thailand." The characters also routinely take pot shots at the schlock nature of the flick they're starring in. There's some brutally funny stuff pointed squarely at the Thai film commission as well.

None of the characters are fleshed out which may be part of the joke. Everything and everyone involved is little more than a live-action version of a "Tom & Jerry" cartoon only with zombies. But to a person they all throw themselves into their roles so I can definitely admire their enthusiasm. The lead actor in particular has a brilliant poker face which turns the majority of his dead-serious proclamations into howlers.

On the flip side, the low budget shows frequently especially in the effects department. The mutant baby is about the worst thing I've ever seen, but at least it's balanced by the extremely demented comedy involved. Also, there aren't any scares per se in the flick so if you're looking for thrills then look elsewhere.

This is definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum from Dawn of the Dead so a back-to-back screening of these would seem the perfect compliment. One goes for the jugular while the other goes for the funny bone, with neither a true success.

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