The Horror Zine Review
A Yfke van Berckelaer Film
Director: Yfke van Berckelaer
A Film by Yfke van Berckelaer
Review by Diana Norton-Bagwell
As a self-proclaimed zombie movie fan, I was excited to see what new things Zombie Love would offer. The idea of a zombie musical may not appeal to most people. Let’s face it, the idea is a little offbeat; which is exactly why I was anxious to view it. Zombie Love is a romantic-comedy-horror-musical. What? I’m not even sure which order to list all the genres that this movie covers. Perhaps it’s a musical-horror-romantic-comedy. Or perhaps you will just have to decide for yourself which genre(s) this movie best fits, and then list them in the order that appeals to you.
Now, when you think of romantic comedies, zombies are not the first things that come to mind. Probably not even the last. The typical rom-com has a boy and girl meeting, falling in love, and going through some series of unplanned events (hence, the comedy part); and finally finishing the movie with a happy ending of some sort. We’ve all seen them. Heck, we all need a feel-good movie once in a while. Right? But Zombie Love takes a stab at this genre with an interesting twist… Zombies!
In fact, Zombie Love takes a look at the lives of zombies. In particular, the personal life of Dante; who just happens to be a 200-year-old zombie looking for “something more.” He seriously needs to get a life (pun intended).
This, of course, is not the usual perspective in zombie movies. Most zombie/horror movies focus on the living, and their attempts to get away from the flesh-eaters in the film. That right there is what makes this zombie film different. (Even besides the musical numbers, of which there are many.) There are also no weapon-wielding-average-humans trying to survive and destroy the zombies. In fact, it’s the zombies who are trying to survive. Zombies have needs too; a zombie has to eat. After all, what zombie movie would be complete without bloody scenes of half-eaten victims?
So, boy (Dante) falls for girl (Claudia), and a series of odd things happen; which all lead to a happy ending. Your typical romantic-comedy. Right? Wrong.
Dante is in fact a zombie, and Claudia is a living human. I know what you’re thinking: How in the world does a zombie meet a living person and fall in love? Well, it all starts when Dante rescues Claudia from a couple of grave robbers. He quickly disappears afterwards in fear of her reaction. However, she has become smitten with her mystery hero. Dante decides he must try to win her love, but in order to do so, he mustn’t look like a zombie. Here is where the premise of this movie becomes slightly difficult to believe. Not even the idea that a zombie could fall in love with a living person, but the way in which it is played out. If you are truly a zombie movie fan, then you can overlook many of the obvious impossibilities about zombies in general. Unfortunately, in this movie, the zombies only look like a zombie from the neck up.
Nonetheless, the movie progresses with Dante undergoing an amazing transformation to win the heart of his fair Claudia. All the while, Claudia is secretly longing for the zombie that saved her from harm. (Which oddly reminds me of “The Gift of the Magi” story.) This short film version tends to put Claudia in a bit of a negative light, because she invites a stranger into her home and into her bed so quickly. (Naughty, naughty Claudia.)
Included in the mix is Dante’s cast of buddies (Lincoln, Ted, Zach), who bring a comedic balance to this movie. They also show you that peer pressure exists even when you’re a 200-year-old zombie; which is clearly demonstrated in their upbeat “Eat the Flesh” song and dance routine.
Speaking of musical numbers, this movie has several of them, as well as some dance routines. Therefore, if you do not like musicals, then this one is not for you. Even if you love zombie movies, this will probably not change it for you. However, if musicals don’t bore you to death (no pun intended), then give this one a watch. In fact, I sincerely hope that writer/director Yfke van Berckelaer succeeds in creating a full length film version of this; as I’d definitely enjoy seeing more than 37 minutes of character and relationship development, which is how long this particular film runs. So if you enjoy creative independent films, then you may want to add this one to your collection. The DVD can be purchased online, and it is full of extras. It certainly appears that the hardworking cast and crew had a good time working on this project. And really, isn’t that all that matters?
Now, I probably tend to over-analyze movies far too often. I can’t always “take my brain out” and just enjoy a movie. (Wow. Yet another zombie pun.) And, I usually like my movie zombies slow and dumb, because when you think about it, they are in fact, the walking dead. How mobile and literal thinking should they be? So this movie may make you question many of the concepts behind zombies. For instance, how does a zombie pass for a living human? I’d think it would take more than some make-up and push-ups, but what do I know.
If nothing else, this movie reminded us of a great life lesson. Hmmm… life. Sure. Even the walking dead can benefit from a simple life lesson: “True love conquers all.” Or perhaps, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? I guess you’ll just have to watch the movie so that you can decide that one for yourself too.
See the movie here:
About the Filmmaker
Yfke van Berckelaer
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Yfke grew up spending most of her time in front of the TV and then making her friends re-enact everything she had just seen. In 2003 she graduated from the University of Amsterdam with both a BA and an MA in Film History and Theory. Two days later, she traded Holland for Hollywood to pursue a MFA in Film Directing at the California Institute of the Arts.
Her short film, Zombie Love, a zombie musical, played at countless film festivals and won over two dozen international awards. For more information see www.zombielovethemovie.com. A stage version of Zombie Love premiered in Orange County in 2010.
Currently, she is co-creating the TV-show Lust, based on the bestselling book, for the Dutch network VARA, writing for the successful webseries De Meisjes van Thijs (www.meisjesvanthijs.nl ), and set to direct the film adaptation of her favorite children’s book De Kinderkaravaan for renowned production company BosBros. She just wrapped shooting the short Madly in Love and is also working on the feature length version of Zombie Love.
About the Reviewer
Diana is a Southern California girl living in the Old South. Having gone from a modern day working mom, trying to balance it all; to an out of place, stay at home mom, living in a small Georgia town. A mother of two and avid volunteer, she lives a quiet life with her husband Dennis Bagwell, waiting for the inevitable zombie apocalypse to happen right in their own backyard.
Diana is a graphic designer (by profession), and a novice photographer and genealogist; that enjoys visiting cemeteries every time she has a chance. Although she has enjoyed writing since she was a teen, it has usually been just for herself. Hence she has never been published on anything more than her yearly Christmas letter. Perhaps one day she will find the time to sit and write the children's book which was inspired by her daughter several years ago, that has been rumbling around in her head ever since.