Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard

Posted by Joel Copling on February 24, 2015

"Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard" is bad--as in the experience is a depressing one on basically every storytelling and visual level--and also Bad--as in there are enough instances of unintentional pleasure that a mocking grin might remain in place in spite of oneself. Here is a movie that carries a "Walking Dead"-like aesthetic (grim cinematography and practical makeup effects) and formula (set in the South, in which characters are either the townsfolk or the law-enforcement officials of a time when those were necessary). Here is also a movie, however, that features idiotic characters spouting off dreadful one-liners and partaking in gun battles with zombie fish.

The movie needs more of that last thing to truly resemble 2010's "Birdemic: Shock and Terror," the film from which the fish--at least in their current state of believability, thanks to some truly, awe-inspiringly bad visual effects--seem to have hailed. As such, it only rarely dabbles in the pleasurably awful, though it's certainly here. A stampede of zombie deer does not remotely look or feel as if it exists with the actors in the same shot, and the zombie humans (Though the film states many times that "they are no longer human," they certainly don't also belong to a different species, so "humans" is the term I'll give them) shuffle so slowly that it actively (and, on the movie's part, consciously) undermines anything resembling threat.

Take a scene in which two of Seiler's (Billy Zane) interchangeable soldiers-in-training (one of which is our protagonist Ian, played by Michael Kean--and who cares who played the other one, really?) are playing patrol and the zombified form of one of their old townsfolk shows up. A simple headshot takes it out, but the creature is moving so slowly (and, on top of it all, actually crawling) that there is absolutely no danger of anyone falling prey to these awkward, lurching monsters. This is also the type of movie that trusts in its characters' shooting ability, so anything and everything that should be shot is, indeed, hit. It's a wonder that director B Harrison Smith (who also wrote the script with David Agnew Penn as if he was actually invested in making something worthwhile) concocts a finale involving something that resembles tension.

The rest of the characters are a no-name bunch. There's the couple expecting a child that may or may not be infected with the zombie virus; they are played by Brian Gallagher and Mischa Barton and controversial in the town because of his age and her infidelity (The child is apparently not his biological one). There is the church-slash-hate-group led by Felissa Rose's Lia, a zealous fundamentalist; we at least get genuine pleasure out of the fates of her and the congregation. There is Ian's dying grandmother, played by a morose Dee Wallace. Elsewhere, the visual effects never once rise above completely and totally unconvincing. The SyFy Channel would get a kick out of "Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard" (which could really lose the nonsensical subtitle), but there isn't anything of worth beyond the ability to make fun of it.

Film Information

Michael Kean (Ian Sommers), Gabrielle Stone (Nikki Slater), Billy Zane (Seiler), Brian Anthony Wilson (Doc), Dee Wallace (Sharon Sommers), Mischa Barton (Toni), Brian Gallagher (Rory), Felissa Rose (Lia), Kyle Patrick Brennan (Stoller), Joe Raffa (Manning).

Directed by B Harrison Smith and written by Smith and David Agnew Penn.

No MPAA rating.

104 minutes.

Released on February 3, 2015.