DVD Review: Zombie Dead


Zombie Dead

A.K.A. Zonbi Dead

Zen Pictures




Zombie Dead‘s director, Kanzo Matsuura, explains his inspiration for this film on the Zen Pictures website:

This is a series based on,aruguably, a simple concept of a beautiful woman fighting horrible monsters. A number of B-horror films using this idea have been made in the American film industry, but I think they are comparatively rare in Japan. As I really like this genre, I decided to stick to a straightforward narrative in making the film so that no details as to the terrifying zombie make-ups and the beautiful heroine should be neglected. The film’s star Miss Ai Kawanaka has cute looks and big breasts and she is perfect as a heroine of horror movie. The film’s highlight is of course the battles between the heroine and the zombies.

Zombie Dead feels less like an American B-horror movie than it does a Japanese survival horror video game.  Satomi (Ai Kawanaka) wakes up in an abandoned hospital with fuzzy memories of how she got there.  She wanders around the building, occasionally running into someone, or picking up an object to use as a weapon later.

Given the director’s comments about his star’s breasts, it’s interesting that there’s no nudity in the movie at all.  That’s not to say that showcasing womens’ bodies isn’t a primary goal here, but it’s done in a tame, maxim sort of way.

The fights are reasonably intense.  The zombie make-up is surprisingly good, given the budget of a movie like this.  They look like slightly mummified corpses.  The gore effects are limited.  Satomi’s injuries are depicted with a few drops of fake blood and no corresponding wound.

The cast consists of only four people.  There are two men, one of whom is a zombie as the film begins, and the other whom Satomi runs into while exploring the hospital.  He gets bitten pretty quickly.  The other character is Chisato, played by Erina Oonishi.  She spends the movie in a hospital gown.  She seems to be another victim, but she’s actually more involved in the whole thing than she lets on.

Oonishi is probably the best actor in the film, she’s genuinely creepy when she goes into psychopath-mode.  Satomi, we find out, is a police officer, and Kawanaka portrays her in a believably tough manner.  It’s all to common in anime to have weak, ditsy heroines, and it nice to have one here that defies convention (especially in a movie that makes such a big deal out of how sexy the star is).

At only 50 minutes, the plot and character development are kept to a minimum.  But what little is there is enough to keep up interest between the action set pieces.

The movie comes on a double feature DVD with Slit Mouth Woman, another Zen Pictures production.  Video is anamorphic wide screen and looks very good, providing very clear views of the make up and the women that the director is so proud of.