Film Reviews: Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Pot Zombies
Written by Joseph Amdahl, Chris Laster, Justin Powers, and Matt Powers. Directed by Justin Powers. Not rated. Visit for more information.
Killer Weed

From the bowels of North Texas comes the story of Pot Zombies.


You know you’ve got a real B-movie on your hands when one of its crew members is Barak Epstein. The 26-year-old writer/director isn’t only responsible for low-grade festival-circuit fare, such as the skin flick behind bars, Prison-A-Go-Go, and Cornman: American Vegetable Hero, in which the titular character is pitted against the sinister Dr. Hoe. Epstein is now also a co-conspirator in the creation of the straight-to-video fright Pot Zombies. His role? Blood pump operator.

Shot on location in Dallas and Fort Smith, Pot Zombies has a no-name cast and an utterly inexperienced crew. You can bet that since the flick cost about $10,000 to make, cast members and production folks all probably worked for free. And there’s the rub: Almost as funny as the movie is the fact that it was even made at all.

The flick, which clocks in at a whopping 50 minutes, opens with three poor-lookin’, countrified white boys hem-hawin’ around the woods and tokin’ weed. “Careful,” one hayseed warns as he passes to the left. “It’s got a creep on it.”

What he means, of course, is that the trippy effect of the Mary Jane in question comes on slowly. What he doesn’t know, however, is that his description is accurate in more ways than one. After smoking, all three guys start to turn green, and their eyes begin to glow like lanterns. The good ol’ boys get so cotton-mouthed that all that will quench their thirst is, yep, human blood. As they tear into one another’s flesh, we learn the root of their disease: The latest shipment of marijuana had been subjected to radiation at the local nuclear plant. Like everything else, the info comes to us via a televised news report. The sarcasm is laid on thick: “We have a major epidemic on our hands,” a midday talking head says. “A new virus has infected our people. Scientists are baffled by the recent deaths of three rednecks, two yuppies, four Trekkies, and some other people not worth mentioning. ... We’ve no idea how this virus works, and we’re pretty sure there is no cure.”

Much in the same way that Shaun of the Dead connected working-class English twentysomethings with zombies, Pot Zombies director Justin Powers also likens pot-heads to the living dead. While no one’s denying their similar character traits (apathy, insatiable hunger, stupidity), Powers — unlike Shaun director Edgar Wright — doesn’t deliver any real zingers. What could have been a smart, satirical take on cannabis culture has instead been turned into a petty though humorous (in a juvenile, ha-ha way) vehicle for the director and co-writer to blare death metal music on the soundtrack during the flesh-eating sequences and splatter blood. Adding insult to injury, B-movie director extraordinaire and familiar face Lloyd Kaufman plays a not-too-bright pizza delivery guy, and even though he’s probably the funniest thing in the movie, he’s given very limited screen time. When Barak Epstein’s handiwork is a stronger presence in your film than a legend-in-waiting’s, you may be headed for the sub-atomic dustbin.

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