Biozombie is a fast paced horror/comedy from Hong Kong. The protagonists, not exactly heroes, are two slackers, wannabe tough guys Woody (Jordan Tan) and his sidekick Bee (Sam Lee, with bad teeth, a tattooed neck, and a big knife), who work at a mall selling bootleg DVDs. After a random encounter while returning their boss’s Jaguar from the shop, they unwittingly unleash a zombie epidemic in the mall. The rest of the film follows their struggle to escape.
With its narrow, claustrophobic corridors, cold neon lighting, and glass storefronts from behind which anything might appear, the mall is a good setting for horror. Woody and Bee’s escape becomes complicated by their companions in retail hell: beauty shop worker and damsel in distress Rolls (Angela Tong), Sushi Boy Loi (Cheung Kam Ching), whose crush on Rolls continues after death, a pompous store owner (Lai Yiu Cheung) and his put-upon wife (Suk Yin Lai), and bumbling cops and security guards.
Biozombie has its moments. Woody and Bee are sometimes engaging anti-heroes, sometimes just obnoxious. Sam Lee in particular is too spastic and hammy in some scenes. The humor works better than the horror. There’s a funny split-screen bit where the police are interrogating the two, and a nice digression when, in video game style, the characters are displayed with statistics and weapons of choice (pipes, hacksaws, wrenches, and power drills).
The horror disappoints. The special effects aren’t very special. The zombies, gray-skinned with pustules, have a cursory makeup job: they look like they’ve been dusted with talcum powder and then dotted with pustules without bothering to blend in the edges of said pustules. In fact, the first zombie to appear spends most of his screen time with the camera out of focus, as if the filmmakers were embarrassed to show him clearly. When the zombies bite, there’s no flesh-ripping effect, sometimes not even any blood, so it usually looks like they’re just nuzzling their victims. Severed limbs look like poorly crafted papier-mâché.
One could say that director Wilson Yip has created a Hong Kong chimera of Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Dawn of the Dead (1978), but it’s a very pale and sickly creature compared to either of those movies. There is nothing very novel in the zombie genre here; Biozombie is not quite funny or scary enough to satisfy.
The DVD from MediaBlasters includes a dubbed version, subtitles, and “Engrish” subtitles, a more literal translation of the dialogue that isn’t really funny enough to bother with. Extras are limited to some lurid lobby cards and trailers for other, worse films.