ZOMBIES AND CIGARETTES – A Dungeon “Guest” Review
Please welcome back Camiele White who is making her second contribution to the Dungeon! Thanks Camiele!
Spain is known for many things that tend to excite me: paella, Rafael Nadal, Tequila. However, I’ve not actually seen anything from them cinematically that has inspired or even entertained me. I’ve started to wonder if Spain is just one of those countries that depend on other directors and actors to give their country depth –the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón (Mexican geniuses, might I add). Then I got a tip about a short film that I probably wouldn’t have even attempted to seek out if it weren’t for one thing: running man in a chicken suit. You’re welcome.
Zombies and Cigarettes follows the story of Xavi, a young man who’s got a wicked crush on local cutie, Carol. We find him in a mall’s food court negotiating with one of the ice cream vendors (who just so happens to be a friend of his), a heavyset man who trades an overpriced wafer cone for a cigarette. After receiving the free ice cream (because, what else are friends on the inside worth anyway?) Xavi stands in the mall lobby looking anxious. Then, the love of his life (or, at least, for the summer) walks in hurriedly, almost knocking him down. He offers her a bit of ice cream, and in his goofy anxious state, bumps into a delivery man, who clearly hates his life, and knocks over his entire inventory of passion fruit perfume. And then…all hell breaks loose!!!
Before you can say, “QUÉ LA JODE!” a woman face-plants at the feet of our hero and you hear a squeal like someone being ripped to shreds. Gunshots, screaming, glass shattering, explosions…an apocalyptic throw down has commenced. Yet again, the human race is encumbered with the decrepit clenched fist of a sudden zombie invasion.
Loads of blood, guts, and screaming Spaniards later, we’ve got Xavi and Carol, injured and tired after a 12 minute bout of constant chaos and undead Conquistadors hungry for flesh, in a store room attempting to work out just how the hell these creatures from the nether world came to be. As is the case in your classic zombie flick, it’s a very simple solution to a very straightforward problem, one that’s as far-fetched as the idea of mallrats suddenly succumbing to the throes of cannibalistic hunger pains. However, considering this version of the Zomb-ocalypse is only 15 minutes, you have to assume that whatever the cure, it’s within their general vicinity. Lo and behold, the cheap passion fruit perfume that Xavi knocked over earlier prevents the killer shoppers from wrecking havoc on his innards. With a plan and a bat in hand, a freaked-out-but-suddenly-ballsy Xavi and a lame-but-ever-ready-to-throw-down Carol make their way past their know dismembered friends, finally-dead corpses, and into the unknown perils of the mall lobby: “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you”, Xavi asserts with the kind of authority common with goofy dewy-eyed men in love.
And then…everything goes silent.
Without any real explanation, the mall is cleared of all zombies and everyone’s having a ho-down. Well, it was only 15 minutes, after all.
Beyond the fact that the entire film is predicated on the idea that there’s a mini zombie takeover in this little Spanish mall that sorts itself out in under an hour, this movie reeks of film school thesis. The characters have to be developed in as little as 30 seconds –meaning, as an audience, I have to give a damn about Xavi and his flighty, but feisty, crush, Carol. And you know what? It actually works for me.
Granted, this is a very short film, it does explore just what kind of a sense of humour the Spanish actually have. Here I am assuming that they European Latinos are a bunch of stuck-up, snooty fundamentalists and they go and make a movie that’s equal parts Day of the Dead and Benny Hill –all running and screaming, conflict-resolution, and just full of ridiculous situations that even George A. Romero would be scratching his head at 20 minutes after the movie was over.
I suppose if we’re going to glean some sort of deeper meaning from this campy thriller, it’s that the mall, being a microcosm of the superficiality and non-stop ADD of society, is the perfect place to separate the strong from the weak, the leaders from the sheep. Those wrapped up in their precious quest to quench a superficial lust for materialistic gain are easily preyed on and then forgotten in the annals of time. Those who search for a deeper sense of love and justice find themselves fighting to survive, thus avoiding a brain-munching dead end. But, what the hell! It’s a movie about zombies in a mall.
Though not exactly thrilling or even remotely original, Zombies and Cigarettes has got to be one of the funniest most “What the fuck just happened?!” films I’ve seen in a couple years. It goes from zero to 150 in about 45 seconds. How could you not love that kind of turnaround? Besides, even if you end up hating it, you’ve only wasted 15 minutes that you weren’t doing anything with in the first place.
Good on ya, Rafael Martinez. Good on ya!
Watch it now…
As unexpected as her path was to loving all things weird, more unexpected is her ability to get attention for writing about the stuff. From Japanese horror and Korean melodrama, to the acid soaked animation of the 70s, Camiele White loves to talk about, debate, and watch film that teases, pleases, and fucks with the senses. Right now, she gets her jabberjaw jollies writing for Star Costumes. If you want to give her a buzz, she can be reached at cmlewhite at gmail [dot] com.