The Butler's Viewpoint
Sometimes one finds the oddest things sitting in some of the stacks when cleaning this place up. And lo during the latest challenge to clear out the Teddy Ruxpin of shame mounds of bear fur that somehow winds up in with this lot I found a section of films that I am now realizing that were left here for a reason. And the tragic reason is for the simple sake of not knowing the language. Pity really as my last lesson with Dario Argento shows me one can really be missing out on some gems.
Mind you translating this one I am not sure I am expecting Shakespeare.
“Das Nacht der lebenden Loser.” Or in the Queen's English, “Night of the Living Dorks.”
Bloody hell I better get started on a good pint or three now.
We start off in Haiti; which is where the Zombie legends evidently come from in more modern lore; where a family at home finds itself under attack by a Zombie creature. The family confesses to having no way to fight this evil, only to be aided by a local woman armed with a flame thrower who then immediately deals with the problem. Yep it's going to be one of those films going straight for the humor rather than the horror. While I have seen this style of work before, I am rather curious if a German film can carry off this balance.
The destroyed Zombie is burned down to ashes, which are then sealed in a jar to be disposed of. This jar is stolen however and in a rather quick human chain of escalating sums of money the jar finds itself posted on the Internet for sale. This means while organs might not be allowed to be sold on the Webs it t'would appear ashes are just fine. And so our seeds for the living dead are established.
We now cut to our first young hero, asleep at home dreaming of obtaining the award of his dreams from his dream girl, to of course have this turn into a nightmare. This is Phillip, and he has several repression issues from his domineering parents and his own sexual lusts. His father is commanding and refuses to allow him to really be a teenager, while his mother is up front in the most embarrassing of ways that her son really needs to get laid. During this time we meet one of his childhood friends across the fence called Rebecca. Rebecca is a new age goth and she appears to have a liking for Phillip that he remains oblivious to. While instructing Phillip in a rather direct way how to take care of their house while away, the parents make it very direct that everything is documented and it better stay that way.
Arriving now are Phillip's best friends and partners in this pending adventure, Worst and Konrad. Konrad quickly is established to be a stereo-typical nerd with immense repressed hatred of all the tormentors of life, even going so far as to catalog and document each incident and perpetrator. Worst quickly can be seen as an easy going party loving dope smoking sort of fellow. Giving Rebecca a lift to school it is established that Phillip pines for the girl of his dreams and most popular girl in the school.
Mustering his courage Phillip makes his move on his dream girl Uschi, only to find her boyfriend and friends prepared to humiliate him and his friends. This gains no sympathy from the local students or even the principal, viewing it as brought upon themselves and the order of things. Now with the pecking order established; and our heroes shown at the bottom of the heap; they clean up and head to class. There Worst shows his endless drive to seduce their teacher with utterly no fear, much to the amusement of his lovely teacher. Gotterin eine Himmel indeed!
In class the lesson is religions,their symbols and beliefs, and they are presented by the students. Rebecca's friends have picked voodoo and other fetishes in order to show a darker view of the world. Worst of course is not taking any of this seriously and plays up a voodoo doll with a prank that get the teacher to mourn and long for the days of orgies and sex parties instead of childish pranks, much to the interest of Worst. Rebecca is crest-fallen and her friends embarrassed by the laughter of the classroom at their own beliefs.
Outside the classroom Rebecca and Phillip talk about the cliches of high school and of course Phillip asks about the power of voodoo spells oblivious to Rebecca's own emotions. Out of friendship they agree to meet up at a local cemetery to aid in a ritual which Phillip hopes to get him a love spell for his dream girl. Our heroes show up to the ritual and Worst cannot resist not only not taking the rituals seriously but is candid that Phillip just has desires and lusts. Our Goths in a 21st century take on rituals and a desire for Kurt Cobain's music muddle their way through the ritual and add to this the actual ashes of the Zombie destroyed at the beginning of the film. In blundering they get the ashes all over our heroes and fear they have completely messed up the ritual.
Driving home Worst cannot help but break out the bongs and “smoke one up”. His new auto-bong fails and fills the van up with smoke, causing our heroes to have what appears to be a fatal crash. Laying there the ashes glow and our heroes awaken to find themselves inside the morgue. In a panic they fear that they got so stoned that no one knew they were fine; due to their breathing and walking; and conclude it must be a stoned dream. The attendants conclude this must be a student prank and ignore the goings on. So our heroes flee the morgue and rush home. In a stoned state they watch more classic zombie films and laugh that they must be zombies. Though without the rotting or urges to eat brains they conclude that the failed ritual and dust got them really stoned.
That morning they remark how good they feel and how strong they are, and even dine on raw meat, thus thinking nothing of it. They head to school and once more create a problem requiring harassment by the popular crowd. Now the first strange issues happen when Konrad has his jaw knocked out and then put back in feeling no pain. The bullies chalk this up to feeling like “being kinder” when the real answer seems stranger. In biology class Konrad starts having more cravings, including eating the frogs for dissection. Wurst insists that's just a French thing. When Konrad tries to bite a female's derriere to Wurst this just further proves normal urges and not the craving for human flesh. At this point Phillip notices something and drags Wurst to the bathroom to show him that there is a windshield wiper impaled through his chest.
Our heroes have concluded finally that they are Zombies...just not what they expected. Phillip urgently looks for Rebecca in order to figure out how he has gotten into this, and is there a way out. By this point our heroes are clearly looking paler, but most write this off as just being tired or Goth. Meanwhile Konrad is showing a craving for more and more meat, and finds that in his new form he can avenge all his wrong doings. Konrad sets out on a crusade to wrong all his anguishes! Phillip meanwhile is finding out from Rebecca that being a zombie may have some serious fail points, what with parts failing and then decaying away. Horrified he notices that Worst is needing his help as Konrad is going insane with glee getting revenge.
Now our heroes find they have to take part in gym class. Rugby against the champion team of the school. Here the lads face what they expect is going to be typical humiliation. Phillip councils passive resistance, but Konrad soon delights and rages that in their new forms they aren't feeling a thing, and that they could even get a few licks back in. (After getting himself suitably hurt in a strange and weird way.) This time the heroes decide to listen to Konrad and begin a long and pummeling payback on the best of the school. Taking up the rally behind our heroes the rest of the humiliated classmates begin to inflict payback as well, and the entire school cheers them on, Good Show! The coach of the team walks off in shame and considers that the heroes finally found their courage. The students rejoice and the heroes soon find themselves the new center of attention and worship. Embolden and full of new confidence Phillip and Worst proudly announce they will hold the greatest house party of them all, and Phillip even finds his dream girl Uschi is smitten by this new and bold man! Rebecca walks away heart broken, it is only then that the heroes notice that Konrad has wandered off.
Konrad of course has his eyes set on the coach, remembering yet another past humiliation this time he seeks special revenge. The Heroes arrive to find a rather bloated and sated Konrad having eaten the coach. In a rage Phillip accidentally pulls of Konrad's ear, which is soon solved by a quick use of a stapler gun. Phillip is concerned that this is the start of the great hunger lust and fall to evil, but Konrad decides to play along for now and later continue his quest for hunger and justice.
Not taking chances Phillip and Wurst decide to chain Konrad into the garage while they work hard to dispose of the last evidence and get back in touch with Rebecca to help solve their problem. Interrupted they find all the students have shown up to party hard at Phillip's place and to Rock me Amadeus! While Phillip worries and frets Worst rolls with this and instead revels in being the complete party animal exploiting his abilities to the utmost, even going after his long lusted after school teacher. Not having to breath underwater has it's uses...oh my.
Phillip begs and gets Rebecca to come over and help, only to find Uschi has set her sights on seducing Phillip. This of course becomes a case of worst decaying body parts ever, including scuttling around to try and find important bits. Our prior school bully and humiliated lad sneaks into the house to plant drugs on the site and calls the local police, only to have his plan spoiled by the hungry Konrad eating all the Wonderful Candy! Phillip now finds he has several problems, an embarrassed Rebecca, parts falling off, and Konrad unleashed into the party in his Thriller outfit. For poor Phillip his first priority is use of the magic stapler to repair the Uschi vice grip damage. This leads to the great breakup and then the police showing up for a drug raid. Lucky for them Konrad had the munchies. Grimly Konrad later has even more munchies driving him to once more start chowing down on those who have oppressed him. Left with an inconvenient body they store it in the freezer and then Wurst and Phillip have a large rage fight over their condition. As while Phillip continues to see the worst Wurst just keeps being himself, just with more stamina.
Phillip finally resolves that he has to set things right with Rebecca, and opens up and tells her everything while she begins to suspect that maybe he's been telling the truth all along. Phillip finally starts to feel his evil hunger starting, and is barely able to stop himself. In despair he fleas to see Worst and begs him to kill him, only to find Worst took several levels at the StormTrooper academy. Rebecca now completely believing their plight shows up in time and convinces them that she can find a solution for them. Now the quest to assemble the needed ingredients begins, as Rebecca informs them they have little time before the infection becomes permanent.
At this moment Phillip's parents are on their way home, having heard rumors of a party. In a clever bit of timing they get completely the wrong idea of what is going on and are prepared to unleash great vengeance on their wayward son. At this point Konrad accidentally saves the day as he is struck by the angry parents driving home in a rush, but due to his nature is able to shrug off the impact. The Parents are shocked and now detour to the hospital in order to get Konrad the help they think he needs. Konrad soon finds that the hospital has everything he has ever desired. A full buffet and women who adore intelligent men.
While Konrad is enjoying his new lease on unlife in the hospital Phillip, Worst and Rebecca prepare the antidote while also cleaning the house. At this point unfortunately the parents make it home and let them know that Konrad can be found in the hospital. In a plea of sanity they try telling them the truth, which has the inevitable results. A bit of slapstick later and the parents are “incapacitated” leaving our heroes their window to flee. The cure is tried to strange and great success, but now the effort is made to try and save Konrad from himself. This proves tougher then imagined as Konrad doesn't want to turn back and our heroes have to chase him down to try and turn him back to human. The whole movie wraps up with slapstick fashion and a final happy ending for both Phillip and Rebecca at last. With just a few staples having to be explained away...
This film turned out to be quite the subtle pleasure to enjoy, with it's many small comments and observations of Germany. Both the evolved multi-culture of today's Germany in the casting of the characters, the blending of the still “everything in its place” culture, and even the commentary on how the Zombie infection affected the three heroes differently depending on how much hate, evil or just plain meanness that was already there inside of them. Thus putting Konrad at one end of the spectrum with all his grudges and unresolved issues while Worst ends up profiting from the experience being what turns out to be an open and honest sex and party fiend.
Just a tip to catch the humor it is best enjoyed in the original German with subtitles if you really need them so all the original and fun humor comes through. And I must say this is an interesting take on the whole Zombie phenomenon. Now I find my curiosity is piqued to see just how other countries have looked at it with horror and humor.
Of course now I'm craving a good serving of blood pudding...