Oct 29, 2015
Day 29: ZOMBEAVERS (2014)
Back around 2002 or whenever it was that you could buy bootleg VHS copies of Jason X on the street in Chinatown, a friend handed me a bootleg tape of Jason X he bought in Chinatown. "Have you seen this movie? You have to see it. Here, take it, you have to watch this movie." I had not seen Jason X, because I'd given up on new Friday the 13th films after catching the abysmal Part VIII in theaters. But hey, when someone hands you a tape and says "You have to see this!", what are you gonna do? Even if you end up unleashing a ghost girl with long, wet hair, you gotta watch that shit. So I watched Jason X, and tried to give it back to my friend, but he wouldn't take the tape back. "This was terrible!" I said, to which he replied, "I know, it's unwatchable! I turned it off halfway through."
I bring up this story because recently I've felt a distinct sense of déjà vu. You see, some weeks ago a friend asked if I'd seen Zombeavers. I replied that I had not and probably never would. In the interim, he would periodically ask again if I'd seen it yet; eventually this morphed into "You have to see it" or "I really want you to see it." Calling his own personal relationship with Zombeavers "complicated", he wanted to know if mine would be equally so. Not to be prejudiced (whilst being totally prejudiced), I didn't see how one could have a complicated relationship with something like Zombeavers. And so I've responded to every mention of it with a hearty "mleehhhhhh" and a vague not-promise that I'd get to it someday, maybe, perhaps, if I'd watched every other movie ever.
But here we are in SHOCKtober, right? And the SHOCKtober spirit says we must cast aside our prejudices! Watch that movie on Netflix you never thought you'd watch! Break free from your brain shackles and live! LIVE! LIVE I SAY!
I'll admit, all the talk did have me curious so I agreed to add Zombeavers to the lineup to, you know, get it over with. Like pulling off a bandaid, or jumping into a freezing lake, or closing your eyes and thinking of England: exactly the way a movie should be approached! At least I wouldn't be alone, for I made my Zombeavers friend watch with me.
SPOILER ALERT: when Zombeavers was over, my friend–he of the "complicated relationship"–said "I never would have watched that again. I didn't want to watch it again." And so the parallels to the Jason X story continue!
But here's the thing. You don't go into a movie like Zombeavers without expecting it to be...well, like a movie called Zombeavers. For the incredibly brisk 75-minute runtime it's Zombeavers's world and you're just living in it. I wasn't going to fault it for being stupid–it's about zombie beavers, for fuck's sake–I only hoped it wouldn't be excruciating.
After learning that her boyfriend made out with another gal, Jenn and her sorority sisters Mary and Zoe retreat to the country for a girls' weekend. In classic Slumber Party Massacre style, though, the boys don't take "no boys allowed" for an answer and show up for sex and booze. Unbeknownst to all of them, however, a wayward barrel of toxic waste spilled onto a beaver dam and as any horror fan would anticipate, the bright green goo renders regular beavers into flesh-eating beavers. Chaos and endless beaver jokes ensue.
To my great surprise, it wasn't excruciating! Obviously the majority of the humor is totally juvenile and nothing makes sense. The characters are uniformly unlikable, but dare I say...I found most of them to be charmingly so? The actors are 100% committed to the ridiculousness, and that is something I always admire regardless of my feelings on the movie as a whole. Everyone in the film must, at one time or another, go toe to toe and/or mano à mano with a zombeaver puppet and while it always looks as corny and silly as it sounds, the actors scream and flail for their lives and it's a treat to watch, dammit. Before I knew what was happening, this dumb movie endeared itself to me.
And this is partially why my friend called his relationship with Zombeavers "complicated." It is a competently-made garbage movie that you shouldn't like whatsoever, but then a part of you sort of does. More than that, however, I was stunned to find that Zombeavers refreshingly played around with some genre tropes. I'm not talking some meta "let's list the horror rules" shit, either. Zombeavers just does what it wants! During its final act, I said "I'd like for this to happen. It won't, it never happens in horror movies, but that's what I want to happen." And then it did happen and I gave the movie a high-five. Mind you, this isn't some big earth-shattering, mind-blowing, pants-busting horror revolution, but it was still shocking in its small way. So now maybe my relationship with Zombeavers is complicated. It's not "good" by any stretch (if that matters), and I wouldn't recommend it. But it had some genuine quirks I found very appealing, so...
Have you guys seen Zombeavers? You really gotta see it!