Zombeavers (2015)

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three star

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Zombeavers is a deeply stupid movie. Just a remarkably dumb piece of work. Its irreverent “potty humor”, skin-deep characters, theatrical sex, and leering lipstick lesbianism all feel like the musings of a particularly gross twelve year old boy. Its endless fascination with the double entendre of the word “beaver” is about as corny as its central conceit. A lot of the dialogue is merely a long string of insults (so much so that you could probably apply our See No Evil Drinking Game here and leave fairly sloshed). The zombie-beaver hand-puppets look like garbage. It’s just an undeniably bad movie. I enjoyed it anyway.

Zombeavers is not just a dumb movie; it’s a faithful sendup of dumb 80s horror. Sorority sisters on retreat in a remote cabin find flimsy excuses to strip nude and have loud sex with their airhead boyfriends. They’re punished for their transgressions by an army of murderous, undead beavers that have been transformed by toxic waste polluting the river. As if toxic waste & horny campers being murdered isn’t enough of an 80s throwback, it also boasts a John Carpenter nod in its opening credits & title card to drive the point home. Thankfully, its most faithful 80s sendup is in the practical effects of the beavers & the gore. The beaver puppets don’t look particularly professional, but they have a handmade charm to them that’s missing from a lot of modern horror cheapies, especially in The Asylum mockbusters like Sharknado & Mega Piranha. If the movie had opted for CGI over practical effects, it would’ve been a total slog, but it instead manages to succeed in the choice to chase a homemade, DIY, VHS aesthetic. I might not have laughed at most of its verbal stabs at humor, but the beaver attacks had me howling.

Yes, the humor is hokey and the “beaver” quips are especially relentless. One character even pleads “Can we please stop with the beaver jokes?” in the film’s most genuine moment. However, I’m going to choose to believe it’s cheesy on purpose. It’s not like corny jokes & shoddy puppets didn’t work for folks like Peter Jackson just a few decades ago. It’s a winning formula. Besides, there are a couple moments of absurd brilliance in the script as well, like in the line “We can’t turn on each other right now. That’s exactly what the beavers would want.” I also chose not to turn on the film, the same way the horny, beaver-persecuted sorority sisters chose not to turn on each other. Zombeavers’ hokey banter was bullshit, but the practical effects & 80s horror throwbacks really worked for me. It worked for me so much that when a post-credits stinger promised (or threatened, depending on your perspective) a second instillation in the form of Zombees, I was totally on board. I’ll even throw out a few suggestions for a Part Three: Zombeetles, Zombengals, Zombeagles. Keep ‘em coming, ya violent goofballs. And don’t lose the puppetry.

-Brandon Ledet

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