Zombie Nosh (1988)
"He lived. He died. He's back. And he's hungry!"
A group of college students on an overnight hayride are terrorised and attacked by a zombie, accidentally released from his tomb in the woods. The zombie is hungry and human flesh is first on the menu!
Bill Hinzman holds a cult place in horror - he was the first 'modern' zombie to appear on-screen in George A. Romero's landmark horror film Night of the Living Dead; the cemetery ghoul about whom Johnny uttered the famous "they're coming to get you Barbra" phrase. It was only during the rise of fan conventions in the 80s that Hinzman realised the fans recognised him and wanted to meet him. Seeing an opportunity to make something similar to what had propelled him to this new-found fame, Hinzman set off to make his own low budget Night of the Living Dead-inspired zombie film. Bearing in mind by this point, the zombie sub-genre had taken off again with Day of the Dead and The Return of the Living Dead providing some English-language relief to the slew of trashy Italian exploitation zombie films that were filtering over from Europe. By 1988, the year of Zombie Nosh (or to undergo its other title, the simple Flesheater), the zombie film had become tired and overdone once again. Zombie Nosh evidently turns out to be more of a vanity project for Hinzman, with his zombie character here literally looking the same as he did when he crawled out in front of the camera in 1968.
Without the knowledgeable input of George A. Romero to reign it in, Zombie Nosh simply turns into a splatter film without any pretence of suspense, scares or social commentary and Hinzman puts himself right in the centre of attention as the main zombie. Actually, he is the best part of the film and he does look and act like a nasty zombie - you wouldn't want to cross him in the woods. The ironic thing is that he needed loads of make-up in 1968 to play the zombie but now that he's a lot older, he hardly needs any make-up at all and still looks as scary. Hinzman is the most experienced part of the film, as the rest of the faces in front of and behind the camera show plenty of inexperience in their handling of material which should be fairly easy to make.
Hinzman aside, Zombie Nosh is a messy, incoherent succession of loosely-related zombie attacks. The film kills off most of the main characters half-way through and then has to introduce a new batch to fill the gaps. It completely kills the pace and flow of the film because you're basically starting from act one again by introducing new main characters to the audience to get to know from scratch. The zombies chase two teens throughout the film who lead them to a variety of random people who don't believe them and who are promptly devoured for their ignorance. Characters appear in the film for about two minutes. They say some lines, discover the zombies and then become zombies themselves after being attacked. Heck, one girl is in the film for about five minutes maximum and she spends four minutes forty seconds completely naked. This loose stringing together of attacks is just an excuse to show loads of T&A (the zombies have the knack of ripping open blouses ala Zombie Lake to expose their victims breasts before the kill) and loads of cheap and nasty gore as Hinzman and co. smash through their victims (quite literally at times) and rip them open with their teeth. There's no question that Zombie Nosh isn't entertaining as it dives into the sleazy and exploitative, but it's hardly compelling.
What Hinzman clearly didn't grasp is that the graphic kills themselves mean nothing. George A. Romero's films were gory and violent when they needed to be but they were built around great characters and a story that actually meant something. So when the story became punctuated by violence, it was all the more shocking. Having zombies just ripping people apart left, right and centre as the script for Zombie Nosh warrants may show off a load of gooey make-up effects but it gets old quickly when there isn't a solid story to build around them. They lose their meaning and unfortunately all of the attacks in this one mean nothing. There's no real stakes riding on anything; characters come and go and the film moves on.
The film starts to play out a bit more like Night of the Living Dead towards the end when groups of rednecks are hired to go and hunt the zombies, thus leading towards a terrible ending where two surviving teens are mistakenly shot. Sounds familiar? Overall, there are few redeeming qualities about this film. The picture isn't very crisp, the sound is ropey and the whole thing just looks faded like it has been left out in the sun for to long. On the DVD, Hinzman bitterly thinks that all low budget movies are the same quality and, without naming names, clearly points his finger at George A. Romero. He's tried to prove his point with Zombie Nosh but only succeeded in making it invalid. Talent shines out which is why Romero hit the big time. The reality is that Hinzman got lucky with his bit-part role and has been living in Romero's shadow ever since.
Zombie Nosh has some moments of sleaze worth noting but Hinzman's brainchild film is simply a very bad rip-off of a far superior film which he used to cash-in on his notoriety. Can't blame a guy for wanting to make a living but stick with the original zombie shocker Night of the Living Dead if you want sophisticated splatter.
Also Known As: Flesheater
Director(s): S. William Hinzman
Writer(s): S. William Hinzman (story), Bill Randolph (screenplay)
Actor(s): S. William Hinzman, John Mowod, Leslie Ann Wick, Kevin Kindlin, Charis Kirkpatrik Acuff, James J. Rutan
Duration: 88 mins