1. Zombie Nation (2005)
(As pictured above)
If this stinker is your first exposure to Polish-born film-maker Ulli Lommel, you’ll pray it’s your last. A former Andy Warhol cohort, Lommel scored a hit with 1980’s The Bogeyman and it’s been a long and steep decline ever since. By 2005, Lommel was deep in straight-to-DVD territory, where it’s relatively easy to make a few bucks off unsuspecting horror fans with a snappy title and a cool DVD cover. Zombie Nation, or ZOM. BIE. NA. TION. as the opening credits (which take six-and-a-half minutes to play out) has it, deals with a deranged cop named Joe Singer (played by Gunter Ziegler with an accent like an East European Swamp Thing), who arrests women on spurious charges, then takes them to a warehouse where he inspects their ears and mouth, and gives them a lethal injection in the butt, before burying the women in various parts of the California desert. Singer’s activities raise the suspicions of rookie cop Vitalio (Brandon Deane), but he is powerless as all the senior cops at his precinct served in the army together “in Iraq and Afghanistan,” proving Lommel has read a newspaper during the last fifteen years if nothing else. In any case, Vitalio’s suspicions go no further as he’s killed during an inexplicable break-in at his apartment, or at least we presume he’s killed, as Vitalio isn’t mentioned again throughout the remainder of the film.
Singer’s undoing comes when he kills Romanian immigrant Romy (Martina Bottesch), who took the precaution of undergoing a voodoo ceremony before she left for the US, performed by six black priestesses who presumably comprise Bucharest’s entire Haitian quarter. This ‘protection’ ensures that after death, Romy and Singer’s four other victims return to life as panda-eyed zombies in make-up so feeble it would’ve embarrassed a 1930s Poverty Row flick. The five zombies track down Singer, pausing along the way to ponder life issues, such as if there are others like themselves around the world, and whether they could form a ‘zombie nation,’ because, hey, zombies need to feel like they belong somewhere as well.
Interspersed with the tepid action are flashbacks to Singer’s childhood, spent hanging around a mental asylum run by his wheelchair-bound mother, who reprimands little Joe for having dirty ears or fingernails, with this supposedly providing his motivation for killing women, even though the childhood Joe (Xavi Izquiedo) seems utterly indifferent to what’s going on around him. The five female zombies find Singer, eat him alive, and then take up jobs at the police station, because that’s a thing that would totally happen.
Lommel both scripted and directed Zombie Nation, and what his motivation for doing so is anyone’s guess, aside from hatred of the human race. He’s nothing if not fair however, as the dialogue he gives himself as disabled psychiatrist Dr Melnitz, sent to help Officer Singer, is as bad as anyone else’s, with Melnitz crying “is it safe? Is it safe?” for no apparent reason as he wheels himself around Singer’s apartment. Talking of which, our antagonist’s living quarters are an upper level of a furniture warehouse, again for reasons unknown, although this does lead to a hysterical scene where a woman (Ivy Elfstrom) harasses Singer for refusing her custom: “I need a fucking sofa tonight! I HOPE YOU DIE!”
IMDB, where Zombie Nation sits in the site’s all-time bottom twenty, gives the film’s budget as a barely credible $1500, although every dollar not spent on this film shows up onscreen. The exterior of the police station is clearly an ordinary suburban brick building and instead of a sign, there’s the spray-painted stencil ‘PRECINCT 707’ on the wall itself. Inside, we see offices consisting of partitioned cubicles with only three walls, no ceiling and industrial pipework, most notably seen in a long tracking shot of Singer talking to his childhood priest, a character given great emphasis who fails to reappear after his one and only scene.
The quality of the film, along with the budget, appears on a par with a holiday resort infomercial or a workout video, assembled by someone who saw a Lifetime movie of the week in 1988 then swore off visual media forever until having a nightmare about his ex-girlfriends and feeling the need to commit it to film. As well as featuring the most inappropriate musical stings in film history, Zombie Nation‘s cast appear to have learned their craft from a half-hour Powerpoint presentation, and its special effects will put you off raspberry sauce for life. The most frightening thing about Zombie Nation is, in Michael Wood’s book of his year-long campaign to find the worst film ever made, Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro-Zombies (2010), Lommel’s subsequent three films, BTK Killer (2005), Green River Killer (2005), and Curse of the Zodiac (2007), all three made it into Wood’s list of the twenty worst films ever made – meaning he rated each as even poorer than Zombie Nation. Now that’s a terrifying thought.
Sample dialogue: (a businessman making a “buy all the money!” call is approached by two zombies) “Er, are you guys from Belgium?”