Bong of the Dead
I will definitely speak more about zombies in later reviews because some of my favorite movies are zombie films and they are a staple of the horror genre, but I’d like to say that sometimes I’m tired of them. The past ten years or so has seen a massive increase in zombie everything – films, books, toys, survival kits, games, zombie-proof shelters. I think I first noticed the zombie trend starting around the early to mid 2000’s with 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead (2004), and Shaun of the Dead, all major successes. Before Romero and Fulci fans claw my throat out and nosh on my innards, I realize that zombies have a long history in film, dating back as early as the 30’s with classics like White Zombie, but I don’t think popular culture has ever been so saturated with the hungry dead as in the past decade. In an oversaturated market with so many rabid fans of the creatures, zombie films often feel like they’ve been done to death, heh heh, and that there’s nothing more to explore about zombies; as much as I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, I just don’t think I can stand to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Nevertheless, people are still making good zombie films, films that feel fresh even though zombies have been ubiquitous in recent years. After listening to episode four of the Badasses, Boobs, and Body Counts podcast, I decided to watch Bong of the Dead. Low budget stoner comedy/zombie flick? Yes, please.
Bong of the Dead introduces us to the inception of the rampant zombie infection by showing an meteor hurtling toward earth and exploding a middle-aged man’s lawn gnome. Since he’s a genius, he decides to poke about the superheated meteorite only to get slimed and inhale a green gas that turns him into a zombie. He shares his zombification and entrails with his wife, thus starting the zombie plague. Flash forward six months and the zombies have been contained in the Danger Zone. Stoner buddies Edwin and Tommy are chilling at their apartment. Edwin has discovered a way to make super potent weed, using zombie brains as fertilizer. The two sample the unholy results, trip balls, and find that they have depleted their entire indoor garden in the space of twenty minutes; presumably, they’ve also depleted their entire inventory of junk food. Because they are intrepid young men and totally out of weed, their only recourse is to drive to the Danger Zone and harvest zombie brains for fertilizer. Along the way they meet a talking zombie named Alex who’s attempting to gather a zombie army to take on the humans, but they escape his clutches thanks to the incompetence of his decrepit minions. Their car breaks down, but thankfully they’re able to stay with a fellow survivor, Leah, who happens to be handy with cars. She agrees to help them harvest the brains using a souped-up truck that’s fitted with weapons. When Alex arrives with his army, including a pair of topless lesbian zombies, the trio takes on the zombies in a bloody climactic battle.
This has been said before and I’m sure will be said a million times more, but this films looks damn good for being shot on a $5000 budget. Yes, the film is unmistakably low budget and the film is slow at points, but the actors do well, the special effects are quite good, and overall it’s a polished film; I’m sure that the director/writer/producer/editor Thomas Newman can and will do wonders on a larger budget. Low budget or not, the reason this film appeals to me is that it’s earnest, whether silly or serious. The over-the-top gore, slapstick, and hallucinatory sequences are humorous and fun, but when we learn about Leah’s past, we feel sorry for her because it’s played completely seriously. It’s hard to do, but I think Bong of the Dead manages to pull off those few serious moments amidst an otherwise funny movie because the actors are good and we come to like the characters. Above all however, my favorite part of the film is the climactic battle with the zombies because I’m a bit of a gorehound and Newman pulls out all stops when it comes to that scene to make it as over-the-top and awesome as possible.
As much as I wanted to avoid it, this is where I usually delve into the deeper issues and implications of a movie and I don’t think I can avoid talking about marijuana; the reason I want to avoid it is because it tends to provokes arguments about the legalization of marijuana and I don’t want to get on anyone’s bad side. Since this movie doesn’t really comment on smoking pot except to show that it’s amusing, just as any stoner comedy does, this will just be my opinion on the matter and some advice. Marijuana is not a bad or dangerous drug. It’s not addictive and it doesn’t make you do bad things to get it. Its side effects, as Katt Williams put it so succinctly, are that it makes you hungry, happy, and sleepy. But, and this is key, marijuana is not harmless. It does make you pretty dumb and unmotivated, if only temporarily. My advice, especially to high school and college students who might be reading this, is to avoid smoking pot. However, since I’m a realist and think that most of you will ignore that first piece of advice, here is a second piece of advice. Don’t make smoking a habit. Being generally dumb and lazy while stoned isn’t a bad thing until it starts interfering with your work and normal life. Marijuana may not be addictive, but if it becomes your life instead of being a small aspect of your life, then you’re smoking too much. I’ve seen this happen to friends and they had a hard time getting themselves back in order, but they ended up being happier for cutting back and doing their work. Please don’t misconstrue this as either an endorsement for or aspersion against smoking marijuana; also, please don’t post comments on how you smoke every day with no negative repercussions or how marijuana is a gateway drug that leads directly to PCP and Satanism because that last one is just silly. This is ends my PSA, which is completely unrelated to Bong of the Dead.
For those of you who aren’t mad about that last paragraph, and even if you are, please check out the Bong of the Dead website where you can buy the movie for $2.99, which is a great deal or watch the movie on Netflix and then buy it on the website to support the film.