Night of the Living Dead, the George Romero classic, served as the template for modern zombie fiction. Since then, the formula has been modified and rewritten countless of times. Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later opted for blood and gore, while Shaun of the Dead tempered the violence with satire. Since the zombie genre refuses to die, Filipino filmmakers take a stab at tweaking the formula with Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington – a horror-comedy about gay zombies. Although it features minimal gore, the comedy unfolds with enough flair and pizzazz to make up for it.
Remington (Martin Escudero), as a naughty youngster, is fond of teasing and making fun of gays. A grieving homosexual (Roderick Paulate), who happens to be a witch, cursed him that he’ll turn gay when he grows up. Fifteen years later, the curse starts to take effect on Remington. In his dreams, he is hunted down by a creepy macho man. Every time he wakes up, he starts to notice changes in his physical appearance, his actions, and his manner of talking.
Remington suddenly becomes fluent in gayspeak. (Don’t worry if you don’t speak gay lingo, the filmmakers were kind enough to provide subtitles.) His sense of style also changed. He prefers tight-fit blouses and skimpy shorts over t-shirts and jersey shorts. To make matters worse, he develops a crush on his male best friend (Kerbie Zamora). Needless to say, Remington succumbs to the curse. The homophobe is now a full-pledged homosexual.
In the midst of Remington’s metamorphosis, a serial killer is on the loose in their town. His victims are parloristas – all gays. Remington, his best friend, and his lady love (Lauren Young) must break the curse before the serial killer gets to him.
Zombadings is the third feature from Jade Castro who is responsible for Endo, a romantic film set against the backdrop of terminable contracts starring Ina Feleo and Jason Abalos, and My Big Love, another romantic film about an overweight guy looking for love starring Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga. Taking over the screenwriting duties are Raymond Lee and Michiko Yamamoto. The same duo that brought us the critically acclaimed Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.
When I first saw the trailer of Zombadings, I wonder why the filmmakers cast Martin Escudero in the lead role. He is a relatively unknown actor. The filmmakers could have opted for a more popular actor or someone with more credibility in doing comedies. But Martin is a stunning discovery. His comic talent is impeccable. He speaks, sashays, and acts like a real gay man! He is the crowning glory of Zombadings, in the same manner that Angelica Panganiban and Eugene Domingo are the scene-stealers in Here Comes the Bride and Kimmy Dora respectively.
That’s saying much given the impressive supporting cast led by Roderick Paulate, Eugene Domingo, Janice de Belen, Angelina Kanapi, John Regala, and Odette Khan. If you think Roderick is hilarious in Ded Na Si Lolo, expect no less in this film. Despite his brief exposure, he shows us how to do gay the funny way. He is theatrical, over-the-top, and immensely funny. We all know how good Eugene is. She lets the gays do the outrageous antics, but it doesn’t mean that she held back her guns. Meanwhile, indie favorite Angelina Kanapi (formerly known as Mailes Kanapi) shows us that she can do comedy as well. She embraces her bat-shit crazy character with gusto.
Good comedies do not come often. A lot of filmmakers substitute humor with slapstick, camp with mere exaggeration, and comic delivery with “elevator acting” (see Ang Babae sa Septic Tank). It’s a good thing that a comedy like Zombadings comes along. A film that knows what constitutes a good comedy.
The effective mix of absurdist humor, risqué jokes, mischievous fun, and pure camp will make Zombadings the breakout comedy of the year. Of all the comedies I’ve seen in the last couple of years, I laughed the hardest and cheered the loudest while watching Zombadings. It's an instant favorite!
Zombadings was one of the two closing films in the recently concluded 7th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. The gay zombies are coming to a theatre near you on August 31.
Notice the number 1 on the title? I wonder if the filmmakers are planning to do a trilogy. If they are, sign me up. I’m ready for more zombadings!
*published on PEP