New zombie variations in 'The Sadness' and 'Wyrmwood: Apocalypse'

·5-min read

APRIL 30 ― Outside of the True Blood and Twilight phenomenon, which made vampires mainstream again around 15 years ago, out of all the monsters that have existed in film history, it’s the zombies that have more or less ruled the modern-day cinematic landscape.

Considering its pretty low-key beginnings in 1930s films like White Zombie and I Walked With A Zombie, it’s quite a shock to see how prominent zombie movies/series have become, and how increasingly brutal they’ve been, after George Romero’s seminal Night Of The Living Dead and its sequels Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead arrived on the scene.

From 28 Days Later to Shaun Of The Dead to World War Z to Zombieland, The Walking Dead, the Resident Evil franchise, Train To Busan and beyond, there’s no shortage of new zombie movies being made, especially in the indie horror sector, and with that kind of saturation it’s also pretty easy to get jaded as audiences are being served more or less with the same thing over and over again.

In short, it’s not easy to stand out from a very crowded pack, and with the rules of the genre being established as long ago as the 1930s, a filmmaker needs to come up with some fresh variations, or a totally new invention with regards to the rules surrounding the zombie mythology in order to get ahead of the pack.

So, imagine the pleasure of encountering not one, but two of these fresh new zombie offerings, even if one of them is merely a sequel to what was a startlingly fresh new zombie movie back in 2015.

Check these two movies out if zombie movies are your thing.

The Sadness

Destined to be one of the most buzzed about zombie movies of 2022, this Taiwanese genre offering has been cooking up a storm on the festival circuit since last year, and is only starting to reach the public outside of Taiwan this year.

Written and directed by Rob Jabbaz, a Canadian living in Taipei, this astonishingly confident and slick feature film debut could very well be this year’s Train To Busan, not in terms of box-office takings (because its extreme violence and cruelty will absolutely limit the number of people who will be able to see it, thanks to censorship and the ratings board) but in terms of overall effect/influence on popular culture.

A zombie movie for these pandemic times, Jabbaz has cleverly concocted a new zombie variation by making the root cause of the zombie outbreak a new virus called Alvin, a situation made much worse when the government refused to impose a lockdown by calling the virus a hoax because it’s an election year.

A screenshot of a scene from ‘The Sadness’. ― Picture via YouTube
A screenshot of a scene from ‘The Sadness’. ― Picture via YouTube

Also slightly altering the usual zombie movie rules is the fact that the infected are not exactly brainless, but are more like rabid dogs with functioning critical thinking, albeit solely focused on their more violent tendencies, which include awful things like murder, torture, rape and the like.

The film focuses on a young couple, Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (Regina Lei), starting their day as they’d normally do and their journey through what would become an increasingly hellish day.

And what a nightmarish day it is, as Jabbaz absolutely doesn’t skimp on the violence, cruelty, malice and vulgarity, with the make-up and practical effects here being especially outstanding, delivering bucketloads of blood and plenty of skin crawling torture to accompany the film’s copious acts of perversity.

One of the absolute must-see films of 2022 is here.

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse

This is a sequel to the 2015 Australian film Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead, a hugely inspiring piece of no-budget/low-budget filmmaking from siblings Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner, made during weekends on their own dime over the course of three and a half years.

It was a striking blend of early Peter Jackson-style splatter (see Dead Alive or Bad Taste) and Mad Max’s vehicular apocalypse madness, and the resulting film did not seem like it was made on a low budget at all.

This sequel continues on that energetic and “splatteriffic” path, with returning characters Brooke (Bianca Bradey) and Barry (Jay Gallagher) from the original movie now joined by Rhys (Luke McKenzie), whose twin brother (also played by McKenzie) was killed by Brooke in the first film.

Rhys is the main character this time out, a tough soldier who thought he was doing the world a favour by delivering zombies to the “Surgeon General” (Nicholas Boshier) for the army to formulate a vaccine or cure.

He has a change of heart after delivering a half-human, half-zombie girl called Grace (Tasia Zalar) and encountering Grace’s sister Maxi (Shantae Barnes Cowan, from Firebite), and the film then becomes an action-packed rescue mission involving Rhys, Brooke, Barry and Maxi.

Continuing with the first film’s brilliant two innovations ― the zombies’ breath can be used as an alternative source of fuel (leading to many creatively comical ways of procuring that fuel) and rare hybrid zombies like Brooke can control the minds and actions of other zombies ― this sequel adds another comical variation once the climactic fight occurs between Brooke and the Surgeon General, which I’d prefer not to spoil for you.

If you’re looking for a fun, energetic, and outrageous piece of Ozsploitation, this one’s perfect for you.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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