Reviews
Zombie Brigade (1986) 1 brain1 brain
(Australia)

Alternate Titles:

Night Crawl


Zombie Brigade is an interesting film: First, it comes from Australia, which makes it one of two in my catalog, the other being Undead. Second, while most movies tell us how zombies are made, this movie also tells us why zombies in general are so upset. In the words of Uncle Charlie, the wise old aboriginal in the movie,
"Dead fellas don't like to come back. Live fellas changed the place too much. They never do what the dead fellas want. That's why people are afraid of them. Dead fellas can get real mean about that."
In this case the zombies are also mad because their graveyard is being torn up to make a theme park, but there's something very compelling about Uncle Charlie's explanation, the idea that when the dead come back they think they're going to come into the world they know, and instead they come into a world of chaos and corruption. Imagine a senior citizen grumbling about the good old days, and then factor in that zombies haven't had time to get accustomed to the way things are. They must look around and say "Well, these kids have certainly made a mess of things. I guess I'll just have to eat them."

As you might have guessed from the title, the zombies in this case are Australian soldiers, Vietnam casualties buried in a mass grave a little outside the small town of Lizard Gully, with a little momument to mark their resting place. The evil and bigoted town council is selling the land to a Japanese developer to build the Robot Man theme park. The council's favorite whipping boy is aboriginal Jimmy (John Moore), who tried to make a go of it in the big city and ended up having to come back to Lizard Gully to find work. Jimmy's a good guy, but mostly goes along with the council because he doesn't really have a choice.

The Japanese developer (Adam A. Wong) and his assistant Yoshie (Khym Lam) show up the same day that the momument is blown up in order to start developing. The soldiers crawl out of their graves and make their way into the town just as the reception party is starting. When the zombies attack, Jimmy saves Yoshie, and the two of them set out to find Uncle Charlie to see if he knows what's going on.

My review up to this point may have led you to believe that I thought the film was great, but that isn't really the case. I did like it, but it was marred by the typical low-budget woes, and between the poor sound quality and the thick Aussie accents, I sometimes had a hard time understanding the dialog. Despite his insightful comments, Uncle Charlie is pretty wooden, and the rest of the actors range from there to passable. John Moore actually isn't bad; he eventually went on to a pretty solid career.

The zombies are sort of weird. They come back with hollow eyes and fangs, they don't like daylight, and apparently the best way to kill them is with a stake through the heart, so they're really vampires, although they don't suck blood. As far as I could tell, neither the term "zombies" nor "vampires" was even used in the film, so maybe writers/directors Carmelo Musca and Barrie Pattison never had zombies or vampires in mind at all, but just some form of vengeful undead.

Overall, it wasn't bad for a budget film. If you're looking for something different, this certainly fits the bill, but prepare for budget badness, and work on your Aussie.