Director – Pericles Lewnes, Screenplay – Fester Smellman, Story – F. Floyd Piranha & Zoofest [Pericles Lewnes], Producers – Edward Bishop, Pericles Lewnes & George Scott, Photography – Ken Davis, Music – Adrian Bond, Visual Effects – Edward Bishop, Ken Davis, Peter Kief, Pericles Lewnes, Dave Milliken & Tim Starnes, Makeup Effects – Edward Bishop, Pericles Lewnes & George Scott. Production Company – Full Moon Pictures/ColorCast Productions, Inc..
Zoofoot [Pericles Lewnes] (Billy Bob ‘Elly May’ Clemson), Lisa M. DeHaven (Lisa Dubois), Anthony Burlington-Smith (Bob), James H. Housely (Wilbur), Martin J. Wolfman (Andy), Bucky Santini (Ferd Mertz), Tyrone Taylor (‘The Soldier’ Tyrone Robinson), Boo Teasedale (Sally), Darla Deans (Theresa), William E. Benson (Jed ‘Pa’ Clemson), F. Floyd Piranha (Junior Clemson), William-Livingston Dekker (Jethro Clemson), Alice Fay Stanley (Imelda ‘Ma’ Clemson), Frank Lantz (Crazy Hitch-Hiker), Allan Hogg (Colonel Sir), E.W. Nesneb (Tobacco Man), J. Nick Abero (Jake the Butcher), Jim Bellistri (Loren ‘The Gay Soldier’)
1986. Soldier Tyrone Robinson is transporting a canister of toxic nuclear waste through rural Maryland when it rolls off the back of his jeep. He goes to retrieve it but is driven away at gunpoint by redneck Ferd Mertz. Mertz then trades the canister to the Clemson clan to use as a still. The contents of the canister mix with their moonshine, turning them into zombies. Meanwhile, a group of people from the city have come camping nearby and are soon thrown into the midst of a zombie attack.
Redneck Zombies was fairly much the one and only film ever made by director Pericles Lewnes. (Lewnes can also be seen on screen playing the role of the gender confused hillbilly Billy Bob/Edna May), The film was picked up and granted a release by Troma three years after it was made. Lewnes then floated around Troma circles for a time, delivering effects, writing additional script material and making small acting appearances. He did make a return as director a couple of decades later with the documentary Fighter (2006) and the reality bending Loop (2007), neither of which have appear to have been seen by anything other than a handful of people, and has made nothing since then.
I had heard about Redneck Zombies for years and knew it by its title more than anything else. However, finally seeing it, I can unabashedly say that it ranks as one of the worst zombie films ever made, alongside the likes of Santa Claus vs the Zombies (2010), Xombies 3D (2011), Bigfoot vs Zombies (2016) and Range 15 (2016). Quite possibly the title and approach makes it the very first of the gonzo zombie films, a genre that took off a couple of decades later with the likes of Zombie Strippers! (2008), Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) et al.
What makes the film abysmal (well there are a great many reasons but chief among them) is the acting. Everyone present affects a ridiculously over-the-top caricature of a hillbilly accent and plays with an IQ that must be somewhere down in the single digits. The three Clemson brothers even do Three Stooges routines. For most of the film, there are more rednecks than there are zombies – you get the impression that Pericles Lewnes was so strapped for budget that he filmed the entire show outdoors.
Things do pick up in the last twenty minutes where we have a sort of The Evil Dead (1981)-styled confrontation between city slickers and zombies but the film is so cheaply made that this slides into ineptitude. The end of the film borrows the All a Madman’s Delusion twist from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919) where we see that everything that happened was in the mind of the sole survivor in an asylum and all the other characters have all been imagined based on the patients around them.