Great B-movies seem harder to come by these days. Zombies, monsters and creeps are overdone with stupidity, special effects falter with the reliance of computer-generated blood and guts and lacking efforts result in mundane attempts at cashing in on popular genres.
But flashback to the good old days of the 1980’s and step inside the world of Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Entertainment to find the bible on the B-movie. Redneck Zombies is simply one of many grade A B-movies deep inside the Troma vault.
The brilliance of Redneck Zombies lies inside its overall simplicity. The game is simple: Idiotic and misrepresented army loses barrel of toxic waste in the wooded areas of Maryland and uneducated simpleton rednecks find said barrel and mistake it as booze and a profit. Of course this dangerous combination leads to the deadly tobbaco-chewing redneck zombies.
Directed by Pericles Lewnes (yeah, I wonder about that name as well), Redneck Zombies is a total parody of itself in every fashion. It knows exactly what it is (a cheesy, over-the-top gore machine) and its spirted effort at achieving its mission is what leads to the level of enjoyment it produces. Not for one second does the film try to fool you otherwise. This is as straight-forward as B-movies come.
Characters parody those seen in other films (you’ll find loads of Texas Chain Saw Massacre references here) and you’ll have at your hand a few memorable characters, something I always found to be important in the horror and B-movie genre. Certain films that don’t have a character like our Bob here, a pre-vet student who freaks out during the most intense moments of redneck zombie invasion, lose themselves in the recycled nature of their plots and cheesy gore. But the hilarity of a drug-tripping Bob wanting to climb inside of a human body while doing an autopsy on it is unforgettable.
The film even goes as far to include a redneck version of the ice cream man. Dressed and veiled like the disfigured “Elephant Man,” Joshua Merrick, he rings his bell, talks in a voice inspired by a voice-distortion machine and sells tobacco instead of Popsicles, much to the delight of our young hillbillies.
Redneck Zombies’ rather unattractive cast, a rarity in a genre that often prides itself on the exploitation or sexualization of bimbo blondes, gets even uglier when the skin starts to decay, the blood starts to spurt and the gut chewing begins. Lewnes, who went on to work effects for Troma in his later years, loaded on the blood, guts and gore to the maximum degree, leading to some memorable zombie moments. Heads explode, bodies are ripped in half and eyeballs are eaten.
Troma’s catalogue might be filled with more well-known franchises (The Toxic Avenger) or films that speak to a generation with meaning (Combat Shock), but Redneck Zombies does everything it can to exemplify the tradition the company has known. You’ll get your silly and poorly delivered dialogue from goofy characters and you’ll get your blood and guts, an all-in-one collection from the heart of Pericles Lewnes.