Friday, October 7, 2011

Horrorthon 3: Day Eight: Bio Zombie (Wilson Yip, 1998) -- C

Described in its advertising campaign as "Hong Kong's answer to George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (about two decades late, at that), Bio Zombie deserves no such alignment with Romero's masterpiece (not even close) and actually belongs in the sub-bargain-bins of your nearest retailer for films lacking any perceptible purpose for existing other than a quick cash grab). Directed by Wilson Yip (he would go on the helm the stellar IP Man films), a group of shopping mall temps and punks are left to fend for their lives after a tainted soft-drink leads to rampant zombification (always a shame when that happens). Less concerned with consumerist critique than genre exercise, Yip goofily traverses the well-beaten path, vacillating between comedy and horror to muddled effect. Though there's a fair amount of amusement to the typical proceedings (especially for horror buffs) there's also a dearth of inspiration; aside from a split-screen bit, the tense retrieval of some necessary keys, and flashes of succinct cultural humor (visual allusions to Resident Evil and The House of the Dead video games), Yip merely plugs a youthful Asian cast into the slasher/zombie template, less about emphasizing the cultural shifts than hitting the identically trite notes of its North American counterparts. Genre is about conviction, not convention, something Yip's wholly derivative film remains oblivious to.

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