October 4, 2015
Of all the films contained on the DPP Video Nasty list, TOXIC ZOMBIES (aka FOREST OF FEAR, aka BLOODEATERS) might be the most obscure. It's certainly one of the least watched, a real relic from the early 80s that barely saw the light of day when it was first released. Like THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI, I'm really not sure why this film was singled out for prosecution. It's not especially violent and even when it is, the effects work is so shoddy that it makes BLOOD FEAST look well done. Given that the entire point of the Video Recordings Act was to suppress films that could possibly have a damaging psychological effect on their audience, especially children, I have to wonder if the DPP ever watched this film to be begin with. Anyone watching this film, anyone with the balls to pop it into their VCR... they were not going to have a moral crisis. The only thing that would tested would be their attention span.
Shot somewhere in Pennsylvania, TOXIC ZOMBIES tries to imitate the scope and effect of a George Romero film. The film is heavily plotted with a surprisingly large cast of characters. It shoehorns in a kind of environmental statement along with a few jabs at the dangers of government overreach and the absurd lengths The Man will go to in his War Against Drugs. It begins with two government officers (I suppose they're DEA but the film never says; they're just two guys in street clothes with guns) stumbling upon a group of hippie pot growers. Unfortunately for our government boys, these aren't the "peace and love, mannnn" kind of hippies. These are the stabby-stabby kind of hippies. When they don't check in with their supervisors (again, just two guys in street clothes sitting in a shoddy apartment room with a gas station map of PA on the wall), the higher ups decide that it's time to end this and END THIS GOOD. Unfortunately, they don't quite know where this 2 million dollar crop of weed is so they hire a drunken crop duster to fly out and find it. Why they didn't ever think of that sooner is beyond me. But they don't just want the pilot to find it. They want him to dump an untested toxic chemical all over it.
So our group of hippies breathes in a bunch of this chemical and that leads to everyone getting a bad case of the Romeros. But not the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD strain of the Romeros. More like THE CRAZIES strain. See, this movie might be called TOXIC ZOMBIES but they're neither toxic nor zombies. Like I DRINK YOUR BLOOD, these are just fucked up hippies that bite, stab and break the neck of everyone they come into contact with. And that's just a total bummer for Tom, his wife Patty, and his brother Jay. All they wanted was a nice fishing trip but noooooooo, the government just had to go and turn a bunch of hippies into stumbling, bumbling murderers. While Tom's weekend just goes right down the shitter, he rescues two siblings, Amy and Jimmy (and because this is a non-PC early 80s horror film, Jimmy is developmentally challenged or, as his loving sister calls him, "a retard"). The group soon wanders into War of the Worlds territory as they take shelter with a paranoid survivalist that may or may not be more dangerous than the killer hippies outside. Oh, and the government assholes that started this whole mess are on their way to the woods with some guns to kill any witnesses that might still be alive.
I probably don't need to tell you that this movie is full of atrocious acting, terrible writing and bland directing. I probably don't need to tell you that this isn't, in any way, a good film, right? But that's the thing about TOXIC ZOMBIES. It's isn't really a bad film either, at least not in the same way DON'T GO NEAR THE PARK is a bad film. I really kinda wanted to like it. I was in the mood for a cheap and cheesy zombie movie. I tend to enjoy those kind of flicks, even if they are terrible. But TOXIC ZOMBIES is just painfully, terribly boring. A lot of stuff happens in this movie. A lot of characters come and go. But the problem is that there are five antagonists and as they're TOXIC ZOMBIES, they move incredibly slow. There are so many opportunities for our protagonists to escape these guys. Even when their car busts a tire, they could just jog away and be perfectly safe. It's just endlessly frustrating to watch a movie where the protagonists have to stand around and do nothing just so the antagonists can catch up. That's what the majority of this movie is. It's "good guys run away, good guys get distracted long enough for bad guys to catch up". That makes the less than 90 minute running time of this film drag on and on and on.