Studio: Full Moon Features
Director: Charles Band
Writer: Kent Roudebush, Silvia St. Croix
Producer: Charles Band
Stars: Cody Renee Cameron, Robin Sydney, Russell Coker
A ditzy blonde struggles to comprehend a global zombie outbreak that causes chaos at a strip club while a military team storms the soup factory where the pandemic started.
Maybe you¡¯re one of the lucky ones. Maybe you hear ¡°Full Moon Features¡± and a fond smile still forms on your face. You think back to the glory days of mom and pop video shops and wistfully recall what a rush it was to see one of Full Moon¡¯s colorful box covers on a New Release shelf. You remember eager hands darting toward the latest ¡°Puppet Master,¡± ¡°Trancers,¡± or ¡°Subspecies¡± sequel, then rushing home like the tape might scorch your hand if you waited too long to play it.
Back then, Full Moon movies were exciting events for ¡®80s and ¡®90s monster kids. The jam-packed cornucopia of ¡°VideoZone¡± treats following each feature furthered the feeling of being welcomed into the company¡¯s wonderfully weird world. Full Moon was more than a mere brand. It was an exclusive club for unique B-movie freaks.
Maybe you don¡¯t know what happened to Full Moon after that glory faded. Well, let me tell you.
Once their distribution partnership with Paramount ended, Full Moon no longer had to meet a studio standard for a consistent level of quality. They were free to be as independently lazy as they wanted, and get lazy they did.
Year over year, head honcho Charles Band came up with increasingly sneakier ways to churn out cheap product by cutting so many corners, everything turned into circles. Band¡¯s brightest bad idea came when he realized he didn¡¯t even have to make new movies. He could repackage old ones by chopping them into 20-minute pieces and presenting three of them together as an ¡°anthology.¡± Never mind that these mini-movies don¡¯t make much sense when they¡¯re each missing 50 minutes of material.
So you might see the end credit touting ¡°Corona Zombies¡± as Full Moon¡¯s 333rd production and wonder, ¡°wow, have they really made that many movies?¡± No. No they haven¡¯t. But they have repurposed their catalogue enough times to inflate that number with incoherent clip-show collections.
¡°Corona Zombies,¡± a self-proclaimed ¡°satire¡± that doesn¡¯t know the definition of the word, is another one of these Frankensteined features. Charles Band mashes chunks of 1980 Italian schlocker ¡°Hell of the Living Dead¡± with some 2012 DTV camp called ¡°Zombies vs. Strippers,¡± sandwiches their bits between a few minutes of fresh footage and presto, he has a ¡°new¡± movie with which he can burn any remaining value the Full Moon name might have had.
Instead of only cramming clips together however, ¡°Corona Zombies¡± creates what it considers ¡°comedy¡± by dubbing goofy dialogue over ¡°Hell of the Living Dead.¡± What results is a kooky coronavirus story where a military task force has to take down a toilet paper hijacker in the midst of a worldwide zombie outbreak. The strip club shots, most of which aren¡¯t redubbed at all, fill empty space with sudden cutaways to cheesy death effects and a few bare breasts. In the bookends, blonde bimbo Barbie watches everything unfold on her TV while remaining oblivious to the growing pandemic outside. Hilarious.
Coming as no surprise considering the hurried and hacky circumstances under which it was made, ¡°Corona Zombies¡± is nothing but carelessly slapdash slop. The flimsy film starts with Barbie coming home to Bodega Bay Trailer Park (get it, ¡°Puppet Master¡± fans?) where she lives in a house with a garage, not a trailer. COVID-19 has created chaos that Barbie hasn¡¯t caught on to yet. It looks more like an atom bomb went off outside though because no one bothered to properly balance the camera, set flags for the light source, or color correct the footage, so you might be blinded by the white blast of Barbie¡¯s open door should you stare at the screen too long.
The TV tells Barbie about a zombie outbreak that started at the Scambell¡¯s Soup Factory in Wuhan, China. Or maybe it was the Scramble¡¯s Soup Company in Baltimore, Maryland. See, ¡°Corona Zombies¡± mistakenly mentions both names and locations, even cementing the different spellings in onscreen text, because no one cared enough to make sure the first five minutes of new footage actually matched the other five minutes of new footage. Or maybe this is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing, since it astonishingly took two writers to come up with ¡°Corona Zombies,¡± yet apparently neither could contribute a single drop of entertainment value.
Gags consist of things like the toilet paper hijacker being revealed as ¡°a failed French-Canadian gymnast who turned to a life of crime after losing a Matt Dillon lookalike contest.¡± I¡¯d love for someone to break down that line and detail where the laughs are hiding. Is it that he used to be a gymnast? Is it that he¡¯s angry not enough people think he looks like Matt Dillon (he doesn¡¯t)? Seriously, what about this is funny?
I intended to transcribe more of these awful examples, but I couldn¡¯t even identify what the supposed ¡°jokes¡± were. A lot of dialogue just randomly blurts a bunch of topical references, often without context, a setup, or a punchline. One guy simply shouts ¡°Postmates!¡± when he kicks open a door. Someone else moans about calling an Uber if the other person doesn¡¯t like his driving. One angry soldier complains to a zombie, ¡°thanks to you I can¡¯t even hook up on Tinder anymore, Plenty of Fish, Grindr, all of it!¡± Yeah yeah, ¡°Corona Zombies.¡± Keep dropping names. Maybe it¡¯ll magically become funny the more you do it.
Another angry Corona Squad member shouts, ¡°this is for Joe Exotic!¡± while setting a zombie on fire. Again, what does this have to do with anything? Does someone hear that and go, ¡°oh hey, I watched ¡®Tiger King¡¯ too!¡± and then laugh out loud?
There¡¯s no knowing for sure if the screenplay or the edit came first because what¡¯s being said is a lot of empty meme nonsense that has barely anything to do with onscreen action. ¡°Corona Zombies¡± could have gotten creative and done MST3K-style humor that authentically interacts with the clips being used. The film could have tried to actually match the audio synching like Bad Lip Reading does to get additional mileage that way. Nah. That would require imagination, and more importantly, effort, two things that are nowhere to be found in ¡°Corona Zombies.¡±
¡°Corona Zombies¡± has earned considerable heat for shamelessly capitalizing on a crisis that¡¯s killed thousands of people. It¡¯s been called gross, crass, disgusting, etc. Here¡¯s what I¡¯ll say about that. While I have absolutely no interest in going to bat to defend Full Moon in any regard here, I don¡¯t find that the film trivializes the loss of life caused by COVID-19. Nevertheless, make no mistake. ¡°Corona Zombies¡± only exists to be an opportunistic cash grab that¡¯s intentionally tasteless. But I¡¯m personally uninterested in ethical arguments about appropriateness or insensitivity, partly because that kind of controversy is precisely what Full Moon counts on to build buzz.
Instead, I¡¯m offended by ¡°Corona Zombies¡± because it¡¯s an insult to movies and to moviegoers. The film goes low with tired racist humor about ¡°Chinese midgets¡± while tribal characters receive cartoonish ghetto voices. New footage looks like it was shot on a phone in less time than it takes to nuke a Hot Pocket. There¡¯s so little quality control that simple details like the name of a key location can¡¯t be kept straight. And with a runtime that barely brushes 60 minutes, Charles Band once again suggests he¡¯s content to only deliver the bare minimum amount of content to qualify as a feature.
Forget about washing your hands for 20 seconds. Forget about social distancing six feet apart. Here¡¯s the real PSA that supporters of ¡°Corona Zombies¡± apparently need to hear:
Stop dumbing yourself down to tolerate trash. Exploitation films are supposed to ¡°exploit¡± a subject, not the audience. Open your eyes to how little Full Moon thinks of you that they¡¯ll put sh*t on your screen and tell you it¡¯s chocolate. You¡¯re not a cherished fan anyone cares about catering to. You¡¯re a con artist¡¯s mark, and you¡¯ve got to stop falling for scams.
If ¡°Corona Zombies¡± is merely harmless fun for drunk stoners, then who is ¡°2ply,¡± the unidentified composer whose music sounds suspiciously like Richard Band¡¯s? Who is ¡°John Charminson,¡± the mystery editor with another toilet paper name who also has no other credits or online footprint? Why would anyone be afraid to put a real name on a project proudly purporting to be a satirical celebration of entertaining irreverence?
Because they¡¯re rightfully embarrassed by an embarrassing excuse for a film. The only reason I¡¯m rating ¡°Corona Zombies¡± with a 10/100 is because I don¡¯t want to award it the more distinctive dishonor of a complete zero, even though that¡¯s exactly what this movie is worth.
Review Score: 10