This time out we’re back again with another of those “zombies that aren’t quite zombies” sorts of film, the British horror comedy from 2009, “Doghouse”, just released here in the US on Region 1 DVD. I had remembered seeing something about it a while back, but it slipped by me until turning up at my usual domestic DVD source earlier this month… Neko missed it in time to include it in our “Halloween Zombie Fest”, but I can certainly rectify that lil’ oversight now can’t I?
The synopsis goes like this: “A group of lads head off to a remote village to help one of their friends get over his divorce with a wild weekend of debauchery and partying. However, once they arrive in the little village of Moodley, they quickly discover that all the women have been infected with a virus that has mutated them all into them man-hating cannibal zombies.”
Now here we go…. a nice horror comedy with a feminist twist… in English language. Just the thing for me and Carolyn on movie night this week. Given how much I really like well done horror mixed with a little comedy, I have some high hopes for this one which seems to be a great lil’ idea for some great exploitation style movie antics….. Hopefully more along the lines of “Shawn of the Dead” rather than the disappointing effort, “Lesbian Vampire Killers” turned out to be though….. So then, all that remains is to pop our popcorn, chill the wine coolers and snuggle in for some serious movie watchin’ fun.
You’ll wanna know what your Favorite Catgirl though about this one, of course, so naturally you know by now it’s time to “Read On!!”
Our director for this one, Jake West, did an earlier film in 2006, “Evil Aliens”, which Neko saw, and liked back then. It was quirky, odd and not your usual “alien abduction” film filled with lots of gore and silliness, so naturally I was thinking that “Doghouse” might just be the sort of oddity that I’d like. However…. just because your Favorite Catgirl liked “Evil Aliens” is no real assurance I’d find “Doghouse” as off beat and nifty as that one, especially given that I’d really hated his first genre film try, 1998’s “Razor Blade Smile”, a fairly dreadful, and thankfully mostly forgettable vampire movie…. and don’t even get me started on his entry to the “Pumpkinhead” franchise, “Blood Wings”…… But… hey… I’m an open minded girl… so I was willing to give Jake the benefit of the doubt here, especially since I’d been intrigued by the early rumors I’d remembered about this one before it’s theatrical release. Oh, hell… let’s just admit it… it’s got zombies. You all know Neko was gonna see this one no matter how horrible it might turn out to be…. Hehehehe!!
Our story gets going right from the start as Vince’s (played by Stephen Graham) marriage ends, leaving him a broken wreck of a man totally unlike the “man’s man” he one was. Five of his best mates decide the only way to cheer him up and give him back his old spark is by taking him off on a wild road trip to the remote village of Moodley where one of the lads grew up and where reputedly the lonely women outnumber the men three to one, for a weekend of “Guys Gone Wild” style drinking and debauchery. From the start… our boys manage to redefine the image of “male chauvinist pig” and the characters left both me and Carolyn wondering just what could possibly make us start to feel empathy for them rather than wishing the “zombirds” would just kill them all in the most painful and creative ways imaginable. They are… ummmm… well….. lets put it out there…. just plain unlikeable. Not a good way to begin the film and build sympathy for their plight I must say. However…. if principle screenwriter Dan Schaffer could somehow pull off that sort of character transformation as our story progressed, it would make “Doghouse” a genre hit along the very lines of “Shawn of the Dead”.
Unfortunately… that just never happens. Not that there wasn’t a chance at it….. It’s just that the story never really seems to want to go that way. A good example is the inclusion of tour bus driver Ruth (played by Christina Cole) who seems as if she’s been included as the possible romantic interest of our main protagonist Vince… a way for him to discover he’s still interested in finding a good woman to love and trust despite the nasty way his marriage ended. She’s smart, sexy…. and even willing to put up with the rest of the gang’s sophomoric antics (like insisting on calling her Candy rather than using her real name). When the gang gets to Moodley, she contracts the virus and begins to mutate into a cannibal zombie too…. but even still, Vince seems unwilling to just kill her when given the chance, and it left us hoping he’s find the “zombie antidote” in time to save her for the finale. Nope…. It’s just a plot element that leads frustratingly nowhere.
What do we get then? Well… much of the plot is centered on the repeated goofy confrontations our boys have with the amazing variety of zombie women that inhabit Moodley. These flesh chomping mutant freaks are waaaay more interesting than any of the male characters herein…. We have “the Bride” (played by Victoria Hopkins of “Zombie Women of Satan” fame)…. no idea why she’s done up in a wedding dress, but boy she certainly loves her big ol’ double bladed axe. “The Snipper” (played by Emily Booth from West’s earlier “Evil Aliens”), hairstylist gone totally scissors crazy. Oh…. and “Bubbles” (played by Annie Vanders), the overweight housewife of your worst nightmares. Add another 20 or so recognizable zombie women characters who appear regularly throughout the film, and you have a great idea where the lion’s share of the budget for this one went. The zombie effects here are great…. but I just wish the story had also been as wonderful.
Eventually all the running around as our lads dodge certain death at the hands of our psychotic zombie girls lets them stumble upon the conspiracy of the mysterious military group who were the first victims of the ladies, and it’s experiments to test a virus on the hapless inhabitants with the help of Moodley’s female Mayor, Meg Nut. Why did they do it? Who’s behind it all? And…. errrr…. ahhh…. who the hell is Meg Nut and what the heck did she stand to get out of this? Don’t think you’ll get an answer… because “Doghouse” doesn’t care to tell us. Nope I’m not kidding….. At least they didn’t tell me or Carolyn anything….. This is the most annoying thing about the whole film. It feels…. empty and unfinished. Just as if the last 20 minutes or so of footage are conveniently missing, leaving only the wacky zombie hi-jinx outtakes behind for us to watch.
Mind you… some of the humor is very well done. The zombie women themselves are really interesting…. and with a bit more work this could have been a really fine film instead of a merely interesting idea for a film. Too bad.
Given this, I’m afraid Neko can only give “Doghouse” a scant 3 “Meows” out of 5…. and one of those “Meows” is reserved strictly for our hungry cannibal “zombirds” alone. More interesting perhaps than the film itself, was the included “Making Of” feature on the DVD. At 40 minutes long, it goes into great detail on the very interesting struggle to make a low budget film while wanting to do quality work with makeup, effects, and set design worthy of a much more well financed film. Very informative, funny, and definitely worth a look.
Ahhhh well…. they can’t all be winners.
Trailer? Why of course!! here it is in all it’s man-hating cannibal zombie glory!