Obviously, it’s a challenge to make any kind of film during lockdown and social distancing and you can have a debate as to whether this hour-long effort – which must contain all of 10 minutes of new footage – counts as a feature film. Directed (at least ten minutes of it) by producer Charles Band and scripted by Silvia St Croix and Kent Roudebush, this consists mostly of highlights from Bruno Mattei’s 1980 movie Virus (aka Hell of the Living Dead or Zombie Creeping Flesh) dubbed What’s Up Tiger Lily? style, with some new material about shut-in blonde dimwit Barbie (Cody Renee Cameron) chatting on the phone to her pal Kendra (Robin Sydney) while the crisis escalates and tipped-in gore scenes from Alex Nicolaou’s Zombies vs Strippers (2012).
An issue with turning out something as topical as this is that the news cycle escalates – all the jokes about toilet paper shortages and hand sanitiser seem to be so ‘three weeks ago’ while the real-life behaviour of seen-in-newsclips Donald Trump continues to defy satire. I usually find snarky overdubs of ‘bad’ films resistable, but the crew of improv artists manage a few funny zingers – and it’s nice to be reminded just how cracked Mattei’s zombies-in-the-jungle effort is (and to hear that poached-from-Dawn of the Dead Goblin score again) as its plot is repurposed into a tale of the US Corona Squad tracking a shipment of stolen toilet paper to a perfectly-preserved native village in downtown Baltimore and then visiting the source of the pandemic in a factory that has ill-advisedly added bat soup to its product list. A lot of the jokes die and the no-time-for-second-takes schedule means a quota of mean-spirited shit slips through (‘I’d like to bang a Chinese midget’) – which means the film might appeal more to the doltish kids in that much-seen clip of shrugging idiots insisting that the virus won’t stop them partying or getting drink than to the at-risk folk who took the message seriously as soon as the body count started climbing.
One cavil – I’ve seen Virus (a joyously terrible film) repeatedly on multiple formats and will probably revisit it again in the future, but I can’t see myself ever needing to look at Corona Zombies ever again.