Out there in the world, lurking in the dismal fog, there are a number of hard to find, long lost horror flicks that we only hear about, unless we picked up bootleg DVDs at conventions. These flicks, long in exile, have become the stuff of legends, their stories whispered off the lips of the chosen few who have seen them. Unfortunately, most of them suck. ZOMBIE HIGH is among these nearly forgotten relics of the past, returned to us by Netflix, and it demands that you kiss its butt. And no, I’m not kidding.
I wrote a zombie script that takes place in a high school. So I’m an authority on what characteristics a quality zombie flick in a high school should have. And so as an authority, I can assure you that ZOMBIE HIGH has none of these characteristics. It’s a mish mosh of ideas, an atonal mess that could have provided some thought provoking ideas about the education system… if it had any higher goals and a scrap of intelligence behind them. Alas, it has neither of these. In their place, it posits an end title song called “Kiss My Butt.” I couldn’t make that up if I tried, folks.
The flick starts off much like a low grade knockoff of a John Hughes movie. Typical 80s teen Andrea is leaving for a boarding school, much to the distress of her wannabe rebel boyfriend Barry, who looks like an escapee from Beverly Hills 90210. Andrea makes new friends at her new school, and catches the eye of a teacher. Just when it looks as if Molly Ringwald will pop out of Andrea’s locker, the film takes a turn way off the Hughes rails, into weirdo territory that involves brain surgery, mind control, a fluid that amounts to a cranial Fountain of Youth, and an end title song called “Kiss My Butt.” I still couldn’t make this up if I tried, folks, and it’s only the second paragraph of the review.
Three writers are responsible for this mess, and it seems all three were writing different movies. One wanted to take a stab at knocking off THE BREAKFAST CLUB. The second thought to write an update of Nabakov’s Lolita, with forbidden romance between teacher and nubile, impressionable student. The third zoned out way too much on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and sought to inform the world of the terrors of mind control through education. Problem is, if Hughes, Nabakov and Roger Waters themselves came together and wrote this script, it would still be crap. And it would still finish with an end credits song called, “Kiss My Butt.”
The only positive this movie offers is Virginia Madsen. She’s clearly playing her role for the tongue-in-cheek gig it is, and I applaud that. I also appreciate the use of actor Scott Coffey, who actually co-starred in two John Hughes vehicles; it’s a nice nod to the films this oddball flick clearly wants to be a successor to. But there’s no way in Hell a flick about private school professors attempting to squeeze the brain fluid out of their students so those professors can attain immortality, while subsequently turning those students into zombie automatons, as one teacher lusts after his much younger student… was ever going to take the baton from FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF and run with it. Especially with an end song called… well, you know where I’m going with this one by now.
I usually use my final paragraph in a review to provide closure to it. But hey, I’ll break tradition here and let that final song speak for me about how this film feels about the audience who waited so long to find it after all these years: