SCARECROW ON SEATTLE
In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.
Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)
Though Zombies of Mass Destruction was not shot in Seattle, the "political zomedie" has a lot of ties to the Emerald City. John Sinno, the film's producer, is best known as the head honcho of Arab Film Distribution/Typecast Films. Typecast is a Seattle based film distribution company probably best known for the Oscar nominated documentary Iraq in Fragments but they have been responsible for distributing all sorts of films including a collection of short films called Seattle Women in Film. You wouldn't expect a company like Typecast to be producing gory zombie comedies but there I go typecasting. ZMD's director, Kevin Hamedani, is a long time Scarecrow Video customer who did much of his cinematic research for his film in Scarecrow's Psychotronic room. Zombie films are often used for political allegories, particularly the works of George A. Romero, and Hamedani (also the screenwriter) wisely uses the genre as a means to explore several modern sociological issues including xenophobia, homophobia, religious hypocrisy and post-9/11 politics. Hamedani is an Iranian American and much of his script was based on his own experiences after 9/11 when he suddenly found himself suspect and treated differently by neighbors and fair weather friends. While there is a lot of subtext to process in Zombies of Mass Destruction, the director never forgets that this is, fundamentally, a zombie flick so there is also plenty of blood, guts, violence, splatter and gore to go along with the social commentary. Janette Armand stars as Frida, a young Iranian American woman who has returned to her hometown after dropping out of Princeton and she must deal with some small town racist ignorance as well as her stern father. In a parallel story Tom (Doug Fal) is visiting with his boyfriend Lance (Cooper Hopkins) with plans of coming out to his mother. As you could predict, things get infinitely more complicated (and bloodier) with a zombie outbreak caused by Middle Eastern bio-terrorists and soon Frida, Tom an Lance find themselves fighting for their lives as their friends, family and neighbors become infected and transform into the living dead. Zombies of Mass Destruction was shot in Port Gamble and the town basically plays itself except that in the film it is presented as an island community (a common situation in the zombie oeuvre) even though it is actually a peninsula community. With its unique Late Victorian architecture and well-manicured lawns it is believable as a typical All-American small town yet also has a vaguely creepy gothic vibe as well. The citizens and politicians of Port Gamble seem to be highly cooperative and really good sports as many locals appear as undead extras, streets get filled with burning cars and much of the film pokes fun at small town politics. While preparing for this year's Halloween monster movie marathon be sure to consider this zombirrific local production. -Spenser Hoyt