"Eat me: The Zombie Musical" makes a real killing.
Completely bizarre and nutty, it will delight lovers of cinema’s “other”
category, and totally piss off the others. Isn’t life great?
REVIEW: NOVEMBER 2009 • EAT ME: THE ZOMBIE MUSICAL (EAT ME THE MUSICAL)
Every now and then, when you’re least expecting it, a little independent film really hits home. That’s the case with Eat me: A Zombie musical, a film that spoke straight to the heart of this critic.
Eat Me... follows the path of a group of individuals who seem rather lost. Their leader is a strange, curly-haired character sporting fantastic, form-fitting tops over bras filled with newspaper. This strange man travels around the seventh circle of hell behind the wheel of his van, frequently hitting people who then get in and take part in the journey.
This circle is reserved for those who have committed violent acts against art. There, they are condemned to wander towards a rave party where death awaits them, disguised as a cheese sandwich.
On the way, the condemned cross paths with Jesus, Satan and his women, Little Red Riding Hood (who’s grown up and not so little anymore), Hitler, Bush, Buddha, and a group of scientologists.
And since two kinds of crazy are better than one, it all happens in the form of a musical comedy.
Welcome to Amoeba!
Even if the first few minutes of the film are pretty off-putting, it would be a mistake to stop there! Due to a budget of almost nothing, several flaws jump out from the beginning in Eat Me... Rest assured, though, they are quickly forgotten. Who says that a lack of cash means a lack of great material? The picture quality bears all the telltale signs of digital video, which is to say that it’s harsh and not particularly appealing. The lighting seems to be completely natural in many scenes, which accentuates the rough/ harsh side of the format.
Nevertheless, the protagonists’ voices (and the music!) are audible and mixed perfectly. And that’s something worth noting, as it’s pretty rare when it comes to no-budget independent films. They trend more towards terrible sound or infamously bad, poorly mixed dubbing (a good recording comes at a price, and requires some care). If Eat Me... stings your eyes a bit here and there, it won’t hurt your ears... or at least not without fully intending to do so.
If music has a central place in this Amoeba film, that’s because it’s a musical comedy. Or at least, that’s how it’s billed. In reality, it feels more like a “cinemusical experience” than musical comedy per se. Goodbye Broadway, West Side Story and Moulin Rouge. Here, the songs drop in unannounced and add to the nonsensical delirium Amoeba creates. The protagonists don’t sing their heads off about their feelings, and or use contrived lyrics solely to comment on a bird passing in the sky. Instead, they just perform songs that have something more or less to do with the situation.
The songs in question are freaking crazy. The groups responsible for the original soundtrack of the film play in a rockabilly style that sometimes veers off into metal territory. When the action stops to give way to the music, the cinematic reference that first comes to mind is Six String Samurai. The musical currents are pretty close (except for the more metal-like antics of Eat Me...), and their way of interrupting the plot is comparable. But the similarities stop there. While Six-String Samurai is in the post-apocalyptic genre (even in the songs performed by the Red Elvises), Eat Me... titillates the spectator by putting its hand in all over the place. The Falsies are the main band tickling your eardrums, but other groups include Thrum, ThisMeansYou, Devon Sproule... all together, they take you to a parallel universe. They fill your ears with songs such as “Asian Panties,” “Ten Ton Cheese,” “Satan is a Good Lay,” and even “Are You Sexually Available?”
The musical atmosphere is on the surreal side. The songwriting teeters on the edge of an abyss leading you straight to the twilight zone. Of course, the images match the music. The protagonists perform the conjured songs with graphic gestures and a bunch of minor characters, among other, stranger things. This is how we end up watching a flock of succubae and Little Red Riding Hood jumping into a clearing where a giant chicken is playing the drums. Oh yes, they went there. To tell the truth, they went everywhere! Given their budget, Amoeba accomplishes a lot. At certain moments you’d almost think you were watching American Beauty, so well are the music and the action matched up. This makes for a much-welcomed feeling of calm, because every time the music stops, the frantic pace returns!
Completely unexpectedly, despite a next-to-nothing budget that shows in their artistic choices, the team at Amoeba pulls off a hell of a tour de force. Eat Me... turns out to be a true roller-coaster that goes up, down, and spins you around in every direction. You get off feeling like you’ve been going at it with a loud buzzing vibrator, and the feeling is amazing (and it won’t even make you go deaf).
The protagonists’ voyage of discovery in Eat Me... also involves the viewer directly through a group of scientologists who regularly take you aside. As soon as they appear you’re surrounded by sublime chanting, and each sect member asks you a question while looking directly into the camera (it’s worth noting that one scientologist is also a trekkie). Of course, the effect of this trial is to systematically drive you to the brink of suicide. As soon as it’s over, the journey resumes, leading always to new meetings, each representing a new idea or a new kind of madness. One can’t help making an analogy to Alice in Wonderland; instead of the Mad Hatter, we have a thirsty Jesus dragging his cross along the side of the road. However, Lewis Carroll doesn’t have a monopoly on voyages of discovery, and Amoeba leads you through the mirror with great talent. Eat Me... stops at nothing to break that mirror, and goes as far as to use archive images to punctuate the action.
Here we are at the end of Eat Me..., where the whole production explodes and the zombies finally crash in. The title, Eat Me: A Zombie Musical, had to justify itself somehow. So it falls to the finale to bring us a heap of zombies as the music takes a turn towards “metal” (a little reminiscent of the Lunachicks, who play in many Troma soundtracks).
And there you have it. It’s the end of Eat Me..., which, as far as the “experimental patchwork” thing goes, has the good taste not to be appealing to everyone. Amoeba wasn’t trying for a crowd-pleaser, and takes a violent turn away from the beaten path with this film. By taking a risk in giving the public a production that’s too unique for easy viewing, Amoeba succeeds in setting itself apart from the pack.
I must recommend (if you speak English, as, once again, this little treat is only for those who speak the language of Shakespeare) that you take a look at Eat Me... Because love it or hate it, Eat Me... is a special experience. For this reason, be on the lookout for more work from Amoeba. It looks very promising.
— Colin Vettier, Horreur.com (French)
Translated by Charlotte Sturgill