aka Aaah! Zombies!!!
Director – Matthew Kohnen, Screenplay – Matthew Kohnen & Sean Kohnen, Producer – Sean Kohnen, Photography (some scenes b&w) – Allan Fiterman, Music – The Newton Brothers, Digital Effects Supervisor – Kurt Rauer, Special Effects Supervisor – Richard Miranda, Production Design – Jasmin Graham. Production Company – Wasted Pictures
Matthew Davis (Mike), Michael Grant Terry (Tim Cunningham), Betsy Beutler (Cindy Laramie), Julianna Robinson (Vanessa), Colby French (PFC Nick Steele), Richard Riehle (Colonel South), Jack Orend (Dr Richter), Tracey Walter (Mr Whicks)
A truck is transporting canisters containing the serum used in an unsuccessful military experiment to create a super-soldier but these fall off after the driver skids on the road. One of the canisters rolls to land outside a bowling alley where its contents spill and infect a case of ice cream mix that is being loaded by employee Tim Cunningham. As they wait before opening time, Tim’s friend Mike creates a special mix of beer-flavoured ice cream cones for himself, Tim and their two friends Vanessa and Cindy. After eating the cones, the four of them become infected. They emerge outside to find everybody acting strangely and fleeing from them in terror. As they find they have an overriding need to eat flesh, they meet the soldier Nick Steele who explains that the serum that has turned them into zombies.
The zombie film underwent a huge boost during the mid-2000s. As the genre’s limited number of themes began to rapidly become overused, the zombie film started turning to parody and wacky title collusions. See the likes of Zombie Beach Party (2003), Dorm of the Dead (2006), Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006), Zombie Cheerleader Camp (2007), Zombie Strippers! (2008), Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (2009), Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009), Romeo and Juliet vs the Living Dead (2009), Stag Night of the Dead (2009), Big Tits Zombie (2010), Santa Claus vs. the Zombies (2010), Bong of the Dead (2011), Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012), Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies (2014), Zombeavers (2014), MILFs vs Zombies (2015), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), among others, all of which seemed intended to throw zombies together with the most absurd collusions possible.
The first ten minutes of Wasting Away are shot in black-and-white and then make an abrupt change to colour. The reason for this soon becomes apparent. Debuting director Matthew Kohnen has borrowed a leaf from George Romero’s Martin (1976), which made an ironic contrast between scenes in the present with a sickly young man who is drawn to drink blood and a series of black-and-white mockups in the style of a traditional Hammer-type vampire movie. Here the colour scenes of the characters as they wander around the city trying to understand what has happened are contrasted with black-and-white pullbacks to everybody else’s point-of-view, which show the group as standard zombies.
This proves mildly amusing for a time, even if Wasting Away lacks a big enough budget to do anything other than stumble occasionally towards its target. (The budget is noticeable when it comes to the fairly unconvincing gore element). The humour is broad and the film is essentially a single gag one. The most amusing sequence is the one that comes at the start of the credits – an animated spoof on the evolution of man, which goes from caveman through a modern man to a zombie, which then promptly turns and devours all the other figures. The most amusing of the live-action scenes, the one where the film finally gets its mix of deadpan silliness right, is the one where Michael Grant Terry goes in to talk to Betsy Beutler’s parents who are cowering in their living room and respond with a hail of gunfire as he stands and gives a heartfelt speech about wanting to ask permission to date their daughter, before they accidentally blow themselves up and he returns to Betsy with a “Maybe this is just wishful thinking but before he threw the dynamite, I like to think I saw a glimmer in his eyes.” While other modern zombie films/comedies have referenced George Romero, this gets digs in at Romero’s second trilogy “Land of the Dead (2005) – but that kind of blew.” The cast have a certain amiable likeability, especially Matthew Davis’s goof-off jock who becomes a surprise, albeit bodyless, leader towards the end.