Thursday, July 8

Some quick thoughts on Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)

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After the all-woman Cycle Sluts biker gang roll into a sparsely populated desert town, battery-powered undead are unleashed from an abandoned mine retrofitted into a storage facility nearby. The local mortician (Return of the Living Dead's Don Calfa) responsible for the experimentation using the townsfolk has set his sights on the newcomers, but his dead will soon be more than enough for everyone to handle.

The best way to sum up Chopper Chicks is that it's the kind of trash bettered with the nostalgia of youth attached. One that will trick you into a revisit after hindsight tells you that it's better than it actually is. Dan Hoskins's lone directorial effort tries a bit too hard to be "purposeful" crap. The premise should write itself with a natural flow to its absurdity. Instead, the story quickly clogs with suddenly discarded events and relationships cast off for no real reason other than to thin the cast. An example being a young Billy Bob Thornton in desperate need of dental work appearing as the ex-hubby of one of the bikers. Time is spent wrangling with the details of their once love, only for Billy Bob to be killed off with nearly no reaction from his ex-wife. Members of the gang also disappear or die violently with an equally chilled reaction from their fellow compañeras. Yes, this is a dumb horror comedy, but it's hard to care about a film so sloppy with the basics.

Don Calfa was so great in O'Bannon's Return that it's painful to see his ability so wasted here. The actor does what he can; basically manically screaming and acting shifty whilst looking kinda like Raul Julia with his jet black slicked back hair and orange tan. The mortician pops up so randomly, even after being seemingly killed off/zombified, that Calfa's character loses any menace. The effect isn't comical; just another mismanaged component of Hoskin's screenplay. None of the chopper chicks particularly stand out. Catherine Carlen does deliver angry monologues well as the leader of the "Sluts", but like everything else in Chopper Chicks, her brewing conflict with her own gang seems slapdash.

The zombies, which mostly look like sweaty people stumbling around in dirty clothes, are oddly reminiscent of Romero's Land of the Dead in their human-like antics. They shoot guns, drive recklessly, and there's even one pushing around a reel lawn mower as seen in Land. Also the way they march towards the town and reach it for the climax echoes the 2005 film. The best aspect about the treatment of the undead is how the living populous recognize the dead as their dearly departed and refuse to kill them again. I've always felt too many zombie pictures forget that certain emotional connection relatives have with deceased family members. Nothing comes from it in this film though.


Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
ambles along well enough to be watchable. I didn't feel much viewer fatigue even after the realization that things weren't going to get better. Without any boobs, barely any blood/gore, and just some suggestive sexuality; this might actually be an okay outing to let a little fledgling horror fan see. This New Line/Turner VHS is rated R at 86 minutes with a few places with jumps in the score suggesting gorier footage might have been cut. The out-of-print Troma Team DVD has this cut, but includes scenes from the six minute longer Japanese cut with the original score and title ("Chrome Hearts") as an extra. Like the question with many Troma discs, why couldn't they have included that (perhaps better) version?
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1 comment:

J. Astro said...

Agreed, m'man. I -do- enjoy the flick on a shallow level, but to me there is a "manufactured" quality to it that makes it seem like someone thought they were creating a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool "cult classic" right outta the gate. You can't TRY for cult status, you have to just make your movie and let it find its audience.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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