Zombiez (2005)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres: Horror, Zombie Film
A woman finds herself on the run from the living dead. Her friends are being slaughtered and she can find no help. Will she survive or will she too fall victim to the Zombiez? --IMDb
John Bacchus John Bacchus
Jenicia Garcia Jenicia Garcia
Jackeem Sellers Jackeem Sellers
Randy Clarke Randy Clarke
Raymond Spencer Raymond Spencer
Gladimir Georges Gladimir Georges

1.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 19, 2005
Josephine (Jenicia Garcia) is a member of a demolition crew who doesn't get along very well with her co-workers. As if the workplace rivalry wasn't enough, she notices a man being attacked while standing at the bus-stop one day, and upon investigating, finds out that a zombie is responsible for the attack. Josephine must now run for her life from the swarms of zombies that are popping up, and also rescue her husband who is being held hostage by the zombie master. That's about the best I can do with the storyline here.

Here's another African-American oriented horror film from director Z. Winston Brown, a film which came out soon after his directorial debut in Vampiyaz. Had I known that Winston was responsible for Zombiez, it never would have hit my Netflix queue, but sadly, Winston was credited under a different name for this movie. I think that's sort of telling for the quality of his films, when he won't even put his real name on them.

The man has a really good idea going here... after the success of many black-oriented films in recent times, it would only make sense for someone to release some horror movies to cash in on the trend. There's a huge market there, considering that most horror films usually contain one or two black fellows who quickly die off; after all, the unspoken rule of horror is that the black guy almost always dies first. While the idea is good and the market is there, Z. Winston Brown is not the man who will cash in on this thanks to his incompetent directing skills.

The main problem with his movies (and especially this one) is the almost blaxploitation route he takes. He tries to make his movies appeal to the black audience by filling them with black actors and actresses, using hip-hop music instead of musical scores, and constantly throwing out black-oriented stereotypes. We have the zombies that are afraid of the police, annoying rap music that constantly ruins scenes, the evil white guys who want nothing more than to hold the brothers down, plenty of basketball playing, and everything else one would expect to come from the black stereotypes. I'm surprised that he didn't feature a guy sitting at the dinner table eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken while downing some Malt Liquor, as it seems that every other stereotype is present. With that said though, there is a man in a chicken costume that serves as entertainment for the zombie leader, so I suppose that the chicken idea wasn't entirely overlooked.

Now then, the movie itself. There's really no storyline to be had here, other than the fact that Josephine must run from the zombies and find her husband. Even that insanely simple idea is ruined by plot holes that you could drive a truck through and horrid directing skills. Josephine must find and rescue her husband... the same man that she left for dead in order to save a nameless white girl, the same guy that she watched a zombie use some sort of power tool on, and the same man that the zombie leader claims to have ate. I don't know about you readers, but I'd personally think that finding him would be a lost cause and cut my losses here.

Then there's the zombies, who are really zombies by name only. Sure, they murder people and eat human flesh, but that's as far as the zombie name applies. The zombies have a zombie leader who plans to "rule the streets" with his zombie friends, the leader kills people with his handgun, the zombies laugh and make jokes with one another, and they even have the knowledge that police are evil. Yes, after hearing some police sirens, the zombies quickly make themselves scarce.

Did I mention that Z. Winston Brown can't direct a film? Even with the sad state of affairs that is the storyline, things could have been infinitely better had a competent director been behind the camera. For starters, there's a number of scenes included in the film that really should have hit the cutting-room floor. We get to watch Josephine limp through the woods for a solid three minutes with no music, no action, nothing... literally, all we see is her walking and the trees around her. What purpose this scene (and many similar scenes) was supposed to serve is beyond me.

Then we have the low-budget aspect of the film, which it seems the director wasn't aware of. For example, Josephine gets her finger cut off in one scene, and thanks to the budget, the effect was produced by dumping a bunch of fake blood on her hand and having her hide her finger inside her hand. The shot wasn't perfect, but with respect to the budget concerns, it was probably the best they could do. So, what does Mr. Brown do to make the scene work out better? He goes in for an extreme close-up shot of her hand, where it's show in full view that she's merely hiding her finger. The director of a film, especially a low-budget one such as this, is supposed to make these types of scenes and effects convincing with the camera-work... not zoom in and show off the trick behind the effect.

As I've previously mentioned, someone is going to strike gold when they release a few black-oriented horror films that are of at least decent quality. The market for these films is largely untapped and ripe for the pickings, but if the man's work up until this point is any indication, Z. Winston Brown will not be that someone. 1/10.
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