Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante, released in 2001, is a sequel to Pablo Parés and Hernán Sáez’s Argentinean SOV backyard-epic, Plaga Zombie. The film picks up nearly where Plaga Zombie left off, and follows group of three courageous friends, as they try to escape the alien-initiated zombie pandemic that is plaguing their town.
Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante is a no budget zombie flick that profits, rather than suffers, from its lack of funds. Exploding heads, colons, and eye-sockets are no rarity in this film, as the alleged three thousand dollar budget that went into making it results in the admirable promulgation of a love for practical effects and unrestrained gore. Heavily borrowing from splatstick classics like Dead Alive, Re-Animator, and Evil Dead 2, Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante is full of the cartoon-type splatter that zombie-film fans fall in love with.
Yet the directors’ creative flair abounds in more areas than just simply special effects. For one, the filmmakers use a number of different lenses to their advantage, and the film is loaded with enough expressive shots to really highlight the talent emanating from behind the lens. Though, there is no short of talent in front of the lens either, as the directors themselves appear as the film'vas main characters. Sharing the screen with one other companion, they form a power-trio that dishes out a true comic-book-style delivery. In fact, Parés wrote and illustrated a comic book sequel to Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante, entitled Plaga Zombie: Camino Tóxico So it’s no wonder that the film really plays as a comic book reads, both in its expressive qualities and in its pacing.
Which brings us to our next topic: pacing. If anything really plagues this film, it’s the placing. Despite numerous action sequences, the pacing of the film’s downtime is rather slow, resulting in, at times, an uneasy tension that is not instantly redeemed by the following splatter sequence. On the contrary, however, there is one scene alone that easily compensates for any fault this film may have, and that is the John West bedroom scene, in which we are saturated with the brilliance of his character in both fanatical set design, and a catchy original tune that will never leave you. “John West: he's the best! A hero! A cowboy! He's John West!”
I used to have only good things to say about this movie, but after watching it a second time, my fond memories have been slightly deflated by the slow story line. When Keith and I were screening this for Zombie Movie Night, our bi-weekly attempt to cultivate zombie enthusiasm, I was getting anxious watching the film plod along between action scenes. I really hyped up this film because the zombie gore leaves a lasting impression and because there are some really goofy twists.
A lot like the first film in this series, Plaga Zombie, the make-up is really unique. The first time around, Plaga Zombie's super low budget gave us gore-ified cake frosting zombies. Zona Mutante has come a long way, but still has the creative charm of a low budget horror film. Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante recalls the splatstick gore of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive: spinal cords get ripped out, an intestine-hose torments with its fecal spray, goopy neon and charred zombies scream and stalk the streets in packs.
I love the too-cool-for-school attitude of the zombies. They have other things to do besides just eating flesh. Hippie zombies chill out in a park and rebel zombies organize their violent takeover. Actually, not only are the zombies great, the main characters are entertaining too. There is John West, the wrestler vaquero, Max Giggs, the computer hacker nerd, and Bill Johnson, the cool and collected leader. Put all this together and you've got some comedy. Oh yeah, and there are aliens!
The humor and random plot twists left me speeches the first time I saw this film. Though I can still find a ton of things I love about this movie, it was a bit too slow the second time around. Maybe I was feeling the pressure since I had promised such an epic film to those in attendance of Zombie Movie Night. Either way, this doesn't quell my excitement for the third installment: REVOLUCIÓN TÓXICA, which is due out in October.