Sunday, February 7

Some quick thoughts on the Plaga zombie (1997) and Plaga zombie: Zona mutante (2001)

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Plaga zombie concerns med student Bill (Pablo Parés) finding his post-op flatmate's health quickly failing, well, rotting after some impromptu extraterrestrial surgery. Soon angry flesh-craving zombies begin converging on his home, with his flatmate also rising from the dead, but not before Bill gets two of his friends to come over. Joined by hulking ex-luchador John West (Sebastián Muñiz) and computer geek Max (Hernán Sáez), Bill and his friends must discover a way to kick ass and chew bubblegum against the rising onslaught while hold up in a house swarming with the walking, surprisingly smart dead.

Plaga zombie: Zona mutante picks up shortly after the events of the first feature with the zombie infection now spreading to the entire town. Mysterious authorities have quarantined the undead invaders by landlocking the district from the surrounding areas. Bill, John, and Max are then dumped back into the city as a deterrent against the dead. Using their fists, gas-powered hedge trimmers, and guts; the group has no choice but to melee their gory way through to freedom. The zombies on the other hand have bigger brains to fry...

Often credited as the first Argentinean gore film, Plaga zombie and its sequel Zona mutante are splashy odes to the outmoded styles of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. Being bloody junk food for the horror soul, they're like a taking in a handful of Swedish Fish or Tostitos with salsa verde...only with copious amounts of unsavory body fluid. Both are obviously a labor of love for Pablo Parés, Sebastián Muñiz, and Hernán Sáez who not only star but are thoroughly entrenched in the creation of their Plaga zombie features. There's a firebrand pioneering quality to these films, something reminiscent of the Pakistani gore-breaking ceremony Hell's Ground (Zibahkhana) or their fellow equator straddler, Brazilian spookshow instigator Coffin Joe.

These two features snap in perfectly with the gore explosions many horror buffs first tangoed with during their early rental viewing years. That's exactly the intent, directors Pablo Parés and Hernán Sáez borrow Raimi's quick-witted camera tactics while adopting the colorfully off-kilter sensibilities of Jackson with glimmering references to greats like Dawn of the Dead and The Terminator. The zombies are your average ultra low budget neon greasepaint and Corn Flake-smeared jobbers that totally disregard traditional rules for the sake of Stooges-flavored comedy. It's not a stretch to expect gooey decaps, limbs torn asunder, complete half skull removals, hilarious quips, or our heroes getting drenched in liquefied feces from the open air intestines of the walking dead. You know, all the usual staples of DIY gutmunchers regardless of nationality.

The dirty secret is that I'm describing Zona mutante more than the original. 1997's Plaga zombie is more a primer and almost not prerequisite viewing for its sequel. Zona mutante does what a good sequel should; take established characters and toss them into a greatly expanded world with a widened scope to boot. While the first feature takes place mostly in a house and its backyard; we're treated urban streets, sewers, rooftops, several homes, and even some weird zombie cult gathering during the second coming of this South American grue romp. The living characters also have more fun, especially Hernán Sáez's Max, who channels John Leguizamo from The Pest on crank as he goes shortbus crazy during the course of Zona mutante.

Both come highly recommended for the lovable little splatter carnivals they are. Yes, nothing new, but the manic gusto is infectious and hellishly endearing. Hopefully, the long-in-production Plaga Zombie: Toxic Revolution sees the comfort of a reel canister soon. The Fangoria International 2-Disc DVD is excellent; featuring both films, three commentaries (w/one in English), making-of, deleted scenes, photo gallery, Fangoria articles, and trailers.
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2 comments:

DWizard said...

Dude, Plaga Zombie kicks major ass!

Carl (ILHM) said...

I couldnt agree more here Jay, these two films are completely underappreciated and AWESOME examples of no budget Horror being made on a huge scale

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