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Zombie Hunter: Film Review

The Bottom Line

Incompetent zombie flick feels like self parody but isn't funny

Venue

Fantasia International Film Festival

Cast

Danny Trejo, Martin Copping, Clare Niederpruem, Terry Guthrie, Jake Suazo, Jason K. Wixom, Jade Reiger

Director-Screenwriter

Kevin King

Kevin King's debut suffers even in comparison to Grade Z genre fare.

MONTREAL — The undead craze reaches the bottom of the barrel in Kevin King's Zombie Hunter, which may or may not have been intended as parody but produces none of the laughs that might support that categorization. Danny Trejo's fanboy popularity won't be enough to drag this corpse off the festival circuit, though it's likely to generate some remorse-inspiring clicks on VOD.

We're a few generations removed from the films that got this genre off the ground. Here, first-timer Kevin King seems to be aiming for the mark not of George Romero or Lucio Fulci but of the worst work by Robert Rodriguez. The titular hunter ("I don't have a name," he explains, waiting a beat: "not anymore"), played by Martin Copping, introduces us to this post-apocalyptic world in voiceover resembling a 14 year-old's Dirty Harry impersonation. It seems humanity has been zombified by addiction to a new drug called "Natas" (ask your five year-old what that says backwards), and real men cruise the desert splattering blood on the lens (an effect the film never tires of) while putting these junkies out of their misery.

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Copping's line readings are sometimes so bad one wants to tape examples, but if the badness is intentional, the script doesn't behave accordingly: Though the prelude offers an absurd moment or two, the first half-hour of the main story is so weighed down by flatly expository dialogue it's hard to imagine King was expecting laughs. (Later, when King offers a Top Gun-wannabe sex scene, it's hard to imagine he wasn't.)

The hunter falls in with some refugees led by Trejo's Jesus, and together they head toward a possible means of escape. But getting there requires going through a town whose name, Dahmer, hints at the kind of cannibal creeps hoping to keep them from their destination. It takes a young man to lead that kind of mission, and as Jesus tells us (in one of a few out-of-place winks to the geek crowd) "I'm getting too old for this shit."

Zombie makeup falls well below the state of the art for low-budget horror, and little attempt is made to block gotcha scenes plausibly: A character might be in the middle of an open field in one shot, then turn around in the next to find a zombie ready to disembowel him. At some point when the faux-gore is at its silly peak, a character steps on something gooey and cries "ew, what is that?!"

It's a brain. The only one in evidence here.

Production Companies: The Klimax, Arrowstorm Entertainment

Cast: Danny Trejo, Martin Copping, Clare Niederpruem, Terry Guthrie, Jake Suazo, Jason K. Wixom, Jade Reiger

Director-Screenwriter: Kevin King

Producers: Kevin King, Chris Le, Jennifer Griffin

Executive producers: Kynan Griffin, Jason Faller, Brian King, Rocky Mudaliar, Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, Brett Bozeman, Doug Miller, Spencer Bowen

Director of photography: Ephraim Smith

Production designer: Kurt Knight

Music: Christian Davis

Costume designer: Clare Nelson

Editor: Chris Le

No rating, 92 minutes