REVIEW: Buddy Bebop vs. The Living Dead (2009)

I love the 50’s. I love the 50’s culture, the way people acted and the idea of teenage rebellion that’s considered nothing as opposed today. What I love even more is when a movie combines the 50’s culture with the zombie subgenre, which is probably why I love Fido so much. I saw a movie that’s sort of like Fido’s mentally unstable brother who was locked in the attic for the better half of his life, and that movie is called Buddy Bebop vs. The Living Dead. Set in 1958, the movie is about a small town that becomes overrun with zombies after a failed government experiment is unleashed… what’s new? Now it’s up to a Buddy Holly-esque musician, a greaser and his geeky friend to survive while making sure nothing harmful comes to them or their girlfriends. However, the geeky friend’s father is lone survivor of the scientists who first created the experiment and the Vice President has recruited somebody to stop the undead… somebody famous… somebody who’s known as The King.

The movie is nice to look mainly because it employs the same special effect technique we’ve seen in Sin City where most of the movie is black and white but certain objects are in color. Although, in this movie there is no real reason as to why certain things (and times everything except for the people) are in color. I thought it would be doing something similar to Pleasantville (another 50’s style gem) but I guess the director thought it looked cool, which it does at times. Considering this was a period piece of sorts, I have to commend the art direction for trying to make the movie as 50’s as possible. They use an old fashioned diner, the hairstyles, old cars and even a radio announcer that’s very reminiscent of Edward R. Murrow. Despite these efforts, I feel the movie has the same aesthetic problem that Dirty Dancing has. Because of the budget, there are several times where the movie doesn’t even seem like it takes place in the 50’s but rather the present day, which is a result of costuming. This doesn’t really break the movie; it’s something that noticed.

If there was anything that could break the movie it would be a few things, namely… there wasn’t enough Buddy Bebop. I like this character; he’s the spitting image of Buddy Holly and goes as far as to make puns with Holly’s songs. After the zombies invade the town, there seems to be a huge emphasis on the greaser and his friend and hardly any on Bebop. Part of me was hoping that the movie would be sort of like Dance of the Dead where Bebop must save everybody in the roller rink from the zombies outside. Also, there are some scenes and situations that have really no purpose at all. At times I felt like the only reason it was in there was to make the movie more perverted. I’m talking about the pervert who licks girl’s shoes and then forces himself on to a young man, and the fat roller rink owner who decides to have anal sex in the bathroom. None of it needs to be in there. It’s just unnecessary fluff that’s expendable.

There were two parts of the movie that I really enjoyed and one of them is when Buddy Bebop confronts The King (better known as Elvis, or an Elvis-esque character this world has to offer). See, a zombie has bitten Bebop and so has The King, but The King just handed the antibiotic serum to Bebop, now they must fight each other and the zombies around them to see who gets the serum. Not only is there cartoon music playing but also it’s such a great analogy for two kings of rock ‘n roll finally duking it out to see who’s the ultimate. Elvis is known as The King of Rock ‘n Roll but Buddy “Bebop” Holly was known as the forbearers of rock ‘n roll. It felt like a real life version of a Hannah Barbara cartoon and I enjoyed every minute of it. Also, I really liked Elvis’ horrible puns, puns that are a staple in this movie. Example: Shit is like snowflakes, baby, neither two are alike.

The movie is gory, showing broken legs, knocked out teeth, skin peeling and even a zombie eating a dead bloody baby. As for the zombies themselves, they sort of remind me of Romero zombies mixed with traditional Haitian zombies; white pale skin with dark eyes sockets covered in splattered blood with the occasional half-torn faces. It was nice. Aside from Elvis “The King” Presley, look for a particularly amusing cameo by Richard Nixon. Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie, it was quite enjoyable at times but I wish the movie took a different path and omitted some scenes. The aesthetics and the special effects are gorgeous but it doesn’t seem to help the plot.

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About Rick Romanowski

Undead reviewer and owner of Paradise of Horror!