August 8, 2011

The Walking Dead Girls (Review)

The Walking Dead Girls (2011)


Director: Tyler Benjamin

2 / 5 zedheads


When I was picking films to review for HOT ZOMBIE NIGHTS, I thought The Walking Dead Girls would be a perfect fit for this month-long exploration of the sexy and sleazy side of zombies. Boasting interviews with George A. Romero, Bruce Campbell, and Linnea Quigley, the film claims to be a "behind-the-scenes look into zombie culture in the United States and the obsession with 'Sexy Female Zombies'". Perfect, right?

Yeah, not so much. In reality, The Walking Dead Girls is an unfocused and meandering compilation of vaguely or not-at-all relevant interview segments mixed with behind-the-scenes footage of the Cheezy Flicks Zombie Pin-Up photo shoot. The documentary can't figure out if it wants to be an exploration of zombie culture, an interview series with cult icons, a Zombie Pin-Up documentary, or a promotional vehicle for the film Stripperland (on which documentary director Tyler Benjamin is first-assistant director and producer Sean Skelding is director). While it meanders without direction, it fails to unearth much insightful or new perspective on zombie culture. Its coverage of the zombie phenomena is surface-level, and there's almost no exploration of the obsession with "Sexy Female Zombies." At its worst, The Walking Dead Girls is painful to watch, as in the interview with Bruce Campbell where Campbell is caustically dismissive and clearly uninterested in talking about anything other than his non-horror show Burn Notice.

As interviewer, Luna Moon does her best, but her work is eclipsed by the unfocused questions

 The documentary begins with a cold open: a brief interview with George A. Romero about his involvement in the zombie genre; then the interview devolves into random questions about his favorite food and favorite music. Without narration or much transition, we next hear from a very highly scripted Tyler Benjamin who will mention, at various throughout the documentary, all the various examples of zombies in popular culture, from zombie walks to zombies appearing on an episode of Glee.

Zombie model Mandy Apple looking blue instead of green

Benjamin never broaches the topic of sexy zombies, however. To put the "girls" in The Walking Dead Girls, the documentary relies on random behind-the-scenes interviews with models at a Zombie Pin-Up calendar shoot. The models are asked about why people might fear zombies, whether they'd prefer flesh or brains if they were zombies, whether vampires or zombies would win in a fight, and other superficial questions. Most of the girls are wooden and uncharismatic although they all look lovely. Some of the women, however, are quite dun, but even their inclusion in the film doesn't come close to justify calling this documentary an exploration of the obsession with "Sexy Female Zombies."

Greetings from Tromaville! I have nothing to say about zombies.

Perhaps the promised interviews with zombie movie stars will prove more insightful? Don't count on it. Interspersed between Benjamin's mini-lectures on zombie pop culture and the footage of the calendar shoot, we get several interviews with cult icons, most of whom -- surprise! -- turn out to have cameo roles in Stripperland (Linnea Quigley, Boyd Banks, and Lloyd Kaufman). Those not from Stripperland seem to be whatever other zombie-connected actors the filmmakers could grab on the convention circuit like Bruce Campbell or Terry Alexander and John Amplas from Romero's Day of the Dead. As is common throughout these interviews, there is no focus. Sometimes, they don't even talk about zombies. Boyd Banks is asked mostly about strippers and standup comedy. Lloyd Kaufman, although a fascinating man, is asked nothing about zombies and instead discusses the state of independent cinema. John Amplas talks more about Martin, his Romero-directed vampire movie, than the zombie cultural phenomena. These interviews left me asking, "What's the point?" and yearning for the bikini eye-candy of the Zombie Pinups. But hey -- it lets the filmmakers market their DVD with George Romero, Bruce Campbell, and Linnea Quigley listed on the front cover -- even if Bruce Campbell looks like he'd rather be anywhere else.

Finally verdict: Skip The Walking Dead Girls. It's a poorly constructed documentary with little focus and certainly no genuine interest in exploring the sexy side of the living dead, despite its inclusion of zombie pin-up girls. Interviews are squandered and the overall production takes a clear back-seat to whatever filming and promotion was going on during the Stripperland shoot. If anything, The Walking Dead Girls should have been packaged as a special feature on the Stripperland DVD. As a standalone documentary, The Walking Dead Girls ranks as "ALL TALK" on the Zombie Love Meter.