If you hated "The Big Chill" as much as I did --- whiny self-involved bores acting like their lives of tedium actually MATTER -- then you're gonna love "Infested," the film debut of El Lay writer/director Josh Olson, who dared to ask the question, "What if the 'Big Chill' people were attacked by thick swarms of genetically-engineered killer flies that turned them into zombies intent on devouring one another?"
This is soooooooooo satisfying.
Actually, it kinda snuck up on me. I had no idea what it was about when I sat down to watch it, and after about 20 minutes you're going, "Uh, this is sort of Big Chilly 20 years later," with upwardly mobile chatterers arriving in their SUVs for a friend's funeral and then deciding to stay at the oversized beach house of a trendy dot-com couple.
But then a beach-bathing cutie named Mindy gets INFESTED by flies that have escaped from the local government research facility, and pretty soon you've got an all-out Zombierama on the well-tended lawn, with the huddled masses inside the house praying that the one cell phone does something other than "search for service."
I don't wanna give away any more of the plot, but this flick has some of the funniest gore effects since "The Evil Dead," including a headless undead yuppie who just won't give up and a scene of razor-blade self-surgery on a gooey leg wound that will have you begging for mercy.
Add to this the fact that the zombies never forget anything in the brain that they devour, and you have them easily distracted by a scratchy 45 recording of "Da Da Da," which makes them involuntarily do the herky-jerky dance when they SHOULD be pulling crowbars out of their stomach.
The "rules" of this particular zombification are a little hard to follow, but it seems that the flies must enter by the mouth. Once inside, they must STAY inside, unless it's dark, because they spontaneously combust in any direct light. And there are so many of them that the only way to kill the zombies is to pierce the body in as many places as possible, then zap the escaping fly swarm with flaming aerosol spray.
Amy Jo Johnson, the outsider at the party and girlfriend of the dead guy, is the pretty obvious Final Girl and turns in a fine performance, but the great funny moments are carried by Robert Duncan Merrill as the small-time drug dealer and David Packer as the terminally horny newspaper reporter.
Oh, and one more thing . . . cutting off their heads doesn't work. In fact, cutting off the whole upper half of their bodies doesn't work. These are the kind of zombies that need massive special-effects cremation. And they deserve it. This is the movie that "The Swarm" SHOULD have been.
Okay, let's take a look at those drive-in totals:
Nine dead bodies. Two breasts (that should count double). Flaming flies. Beach-bag teleporting. Multiple fly swarms. One kiss of death. One strangulation. Self-neck-breaking. Crowbar through the gizzards. Fly shampoo. Zombie-torching. Leg-breaking. Ecstasy-gulping. Shovel-bashing. Interior Fly Cam. Head rolls. Twitching torsoless zombie. Exploding house. One motor vehicle chase. Gratuitous bump-dancing. SUV Fu. Fire poker Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Jack Mulcahy as the sour jealous husband who says, "I saw how you looked at that guy --- that ACTOR";
Amy Jo Johnson, the retired Power Puff Girl, who says "Your TV show sucks!" as she slashes a zombie's stomach; Mark Margolis, as the weirdbeard priest who talks about "our empty lifeless shells" at a graveside service; David Packer, as the reporter who defends his Lewinsky coverage; Lisa Ann Hadley, as the med-school dropout who still has a jones for her college boyfriend; Tuc Watkins, as the bored dot-commer who learns to like zombification; Robert Duncan McNeill, as the ecstasy-peddling party boy who says, "They don't strike me as ordinary flies"; Zach Galligan, as the actor on a doctor show; Daniel Jenkins as the wacky dead guy who believes that "human beings are a plague on the planet"; and Josh Olson, the writer/director, for doing things the drive-in way.
Four stars. Joe Bob says check it out.
Website for "Infested": none
To reach Joe Bob, go to www.joebob-briggs.com or email him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221.