Lots of people like zombies. Lots of people like attractive young women. Put them together, and you've got a cultural sensation, right? At least that's the premise of Tyler Benjamin's hit and miss documentary on "zimbies", or zombie babes, called The Walking Dead Girls.
The film is a mixture of interviews with zombie film celebrities, mostly done at ZombCon 2010, interspersed with behind the scenes video from a zombie pin up calendar photo shoot. Some of the interviews are actually quite interesting. Lloyd Kaufman is only slightly crazy here, and tells some great stories about going to Yale with George Bush and Oliver Stone, and the travails of independent film production. But, other than the fact that he's on the set of a zombie movie he's filming, he doesn't really have all that much to do with zombies. Terry Alexander, who played the Caribbean helicopter pilot in Day of the Dead, as well as a few dozen other roles, is more directly linked to zombie fandom, and greatly entertaining to boot, as are Boyd Banks and even Linnea Quigley. The real standouts, and there's no surprise here, are George Romero and Bruce Campbell. Few people would qualify as horror film royalty, but if there is such a thing these two fellows are it. Romero is easy and relaxed, and talks about the origins of Night of the Living Dead, which he's sure to have done dozens or hundreds of times before. But he clearly enjoys doing it, and we enjoy listening to him. Campbell, on the other hand, seems almost annoyed to be doing his interview. He's very random, but funny without even trying, and his red suit and tie with accompanying black shirt help this out very nicely. All in all, the good interviews are quite good, and basically worth the effort of watching the whole thing.
But there are also some definite duds. John Amplas, who has been in half a dozen Romero films, is a bit boring, and doesn't seem to have much of note to say. He's never done anything substantial without Romero, and isn't entertaining enough on his own to seem to merit the interview. The girls of Evil Dead are also disappointing. The real clunkers, though, are the segments featuring the director himself, Tyler Benjamin. He's incredibly stiff and unnatural in his delivery, and seems even to be reading from cue cards. This contrasts markedly from the free flowing and organic feel of the rest of the film, and is quite jarring. Benjamin should have had enough insight to realize that his place was behind the camera, and found someone more at ease to do these bits. As it is, they seem tacked on and foreign to the rest of the film.
The non-interview portions are a bit of a mishmash. We see a bit about zombie proms and zombie walks, but most of the focus is on the "zimbies". Quite a few of the girls of the zombie pinup calendar are interviewed, and we get to see some behind the scenes footage of the photo shoot itself, and the makeup application, plus questions about whether they prefer flesh or brains, fast or slow zombies, etc. All of the girls are pretty, and a few of them come across as actually quite intelligent and genuinely fun, though there are also a couple who clearly aren't spending their spare time calculating pi to the fiftieth decimal. Honestly, though, they are the real reason that most people will be purchasing The Walking Dead Girls, and they score quite well on the cheesecake scale. If zombies and bikinis are your twin obsessions, you will have plenty to catch your attention here.
The Walking Dead Girls is an inconsistent affair. What's good is very good, but interspersed amongst the greatness is an equal measure of mediocrity. And there's no unifying narrative holding everything together. Oh, sure, zombie babes are a loose theme running through the film, but quite a bit of it only barely touches on this aspect. It's more of a general look at America's fascination with zombies, with the babes thrown in to grab more attention. But it mostly works, if not perfectly. This one is recommended, but only just.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks good, remembering that it was mostly shot documentary style, without the opportunity for studio lighting, etc. There are some moments with visible aliasing, but these are few.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and works well enough, though it's nothing spectacular. Keeping in mind that this was mostly recorded in the middle of a large convention, there's little interference or other audio issues, and the conversations are generally easily understood. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are included.
The only extras included are trailers for Penance and I Am Virgin.
The Walking Dead Girls is a scattershot effort, some quite good, some mediocre, some very boring. It lacks focus, but it succeeds more than it fails, and those that are simply looking for some zombie babes and a few good interviews will find exactly what they want. It's not great cinema, but it does what it wants and for the most part hits the mark.