Aaah! Zombies!!

How do you shake-up a traditional genre like the zombie horror flick? You change the perspective to that of the actual zombies—or non-bath salt zombies. In Aaah! Zombies!! (a.k.a. Wasting Away), the Kohnen brothers flip the script in this low-budget romp that couldn’t decide what type of film it wanted to be.


Four friends (Matthew Davis, Julianna Robinson, Michael Grant Terry, Betsy Beutler) are infected with a military–grade serum that transforms the infected into the living dead. In their minds, they haven’t changed; everyone else’s reactions to them have changed. When they meet soldier, Nick Steele (Colby French) who convinces them the rest of the population is infected, their quest for answers begins.

Looking past the low-budget, terrible acting, plot holes and general malaise, Zombies suffers from an identity crisis. Maybe this is the director’s insight into the mind of a zombie as they can’t sense their condition, but that is not what I am directly referring to. I am talking about the film overall. Is it a comedy, a mock, a drama, horror film? Zombies contains all of these elements, but not in the balance that gives the audience the right idea. Obviously, the film is a genre-mocking comedy a la the much better Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but there are too many serious moments followed by subpar comedic scenes. There are not enough cliché-mocking moments for it to be a true genre satire.

Honestly, most disappointing was the fact that Zombies had some real potential to be an excellent, cult romp. Instead, the story bites off a little more than it can chew by diving into the idea of super-soldier serum and military intervention. Granted, the military is kind of vital in containing zombies, but their role is a little too large considering the desired perspective of the film. Also, the characters are incredibly one-dimensional.

At no point do they even question what Steele tells them and follow him blindly until the very end. Maybe I’m weird, but if I had ingested a “super-soldier” serum and my skin started to fall off, the last justification I would have would be, “Oh the serum must be disposing of unnecessary cells to streamline our body.” Couple this with Matthew Davis’ newfound penchant for brains—“You think Mexican brains are spicy?”— and no one even touches the idea that they’re dead. It takes over two-thirds of the film for them to even realize they’re zombies and then the zombie-related humor begins. By then, unfortunately, it is too late.

The one thing I cannot fault Zombies for is the visuals. It’s utterly unique and somewhat ingenious, to be honest. Normal life is portrayed in black and white—albeit a poor filter since you can’t see anything in this version. Zombies, however, view the world in color. It may seem counterintuitive since their brains are technically dead, but it is a fun distinction nonetheless. The odd factor comes in when normal people are sped up in the zombies’ eyes (with helium-style voices), but they keep that to a minimum.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly where or when, but at some point during the production of Aaah! Zombies!!, something went awry. The potential was great, but never came through. I strongly suggest viewing the aforementioned Tucker and Dale for a successful look at mock horror and generally avoiding this one—unless you really like zombie flicks; maybe then you’ll enjoy the campiness.

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