Monday, June 4, 2012

SIFF Review: 'Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings'

When I first came across “Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings” a few years ago, part of me assumed I would never, ever hear that name again. However, I also knew another part would always hopefully wonder about it. After all, a gay zombie comedy from the Philippines? That might be too much for one man to ask for.

Thankfully, the good people at the Seattle International Film Festival do not quit as easily as your humble narrator, and thumbing through the SIFF 2012 catalog I discovered, much to my delight—I may have squealed—the program includes “Remington”. The film immediately jumped to the top of my must see list, and it was well worth the wait. If you get the chance to see this, which hopefully you will (it just made its North American premiere), don’t hesitate. It’s a ridiculous good time; funny, bizarre, and a satiric send up of small town prejudices.

Six-year old Remington is a pint-sized asshole. He spends most of his time running around yelling, “homo, homo, homo” at every drag queen he sees, which, in is provincial town, happens to be quite a few. But one day he insults the wrong drag queen. This is one more like a shaman or voodoo priest, and places a curse on young Remington. Fast-forward a few years to the first time teenage Remington (Mart Escudero) has feelings for a member of the opposite sex. As confusing a time as that can be in a young man’s life, double that when the curse manifests, and Remington turns gay.

He goes from shy and awkward to magnificently fabulous in the blink of an eye. We’re talking dancing down the street, rainbows shooting out of his ass fabulous here. Instead of getting the girl, Hannah (Lauren Young), he falls for his best friend Jigs (Kerbie Zamora). All the while he is haunted by shimmery dreams of an S&M demon. To break the curse he must find a “real man” to take his place, someone to go gay in his stead, someone who has never been even a little bit gay. That last part proves more difficult that imagined. There are a number of people willing to take his spot, but seemingly everyone he knows has had at least a few homosexual encounters. To make matters worse, there’s a serial killer on the loose targeting the town’s gay population with and anti-gay ray gun. Yes, I said anti-gay ray gun.

The heart of “Zombadings”—which you learn later is a term for a gay zombie—is a message about being yourself, whatever that entails. Gay, straight, a little of both, a little of neither, it doesn’t matter, you need to be true to who you are. Follow your own path and things will be okay, it’s when you deny who you really are that things go bad. A simple point, but paired with cheap, schlock-filled absurdity, it makes for a damn fine time.

The film isn’t perfect by any means. It falls into many of the usual pitfalls of films without much budget. There are some story gaps, less than stellar acting, and the computer FX aren’t great. But then again, when you have a bright pink CG animated scarf zipping around the screen as if possessed, do you really care if every pixel is rendered perfectly? “Remington” is cheap and cheesy, but that’s a big part of the pleasure.

There is significantly less zombie action than you initially suspect, but when it does hit, it hits hard. Like the rest of the movie, it is completely over the top and wonderful. Imagine a horde of decked out zombies in drag tearing through a village festival, and you’re on the right track. “Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings” is low budget, campy, and outlandish. There’s murder, mayhem, cross-dressing, and a surprisingly gooey emotional center.

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