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Friday, January 13, 2017


Just in time for a nice wintry Friday the 13th here in January of 2017 (actually, I live in East Texas and the temperature's in the 70s) comes the raucous Austrian zombie comedy ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES (2016). 

With global warming wrecking the ski industry, a corpulent inventor has created a machine that makes snow and is demonstrating it for a potential investor on a mountaintop in Austria.  But the machine is powered by mysterious green goop, and we all know what mysterious green goop does--it mutates things and turns people into zombies.  Naturally, Mr. Money Bags gets a faceful of it, and...

Meanwhile, brash young snowboarding champ Steve (Laurie Calvert) has just made a fool of himself during a publicity stunt, which puts him at odds with his manager and sometimes girlfriend Branka (Gabriela Marcinková).  I won't describe what happens since the surprise is part of the funny and it's one of the funniest scenes in the movie, but it involves Steve being naked at a very inappropriate time.

Much of the action takes place in the cozy log tavern of big lederhosen-clad hostess Rita (Margarete Tiesel), where, thanks to the original green-goop dude, the first outbreak of zombie-ism takes place and quickly spreads amongst all the skiers and schnapps drinkers huddled inside.  At which point the film become your typical Austrian snowboarding zombie comedy.

What I liked best about ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES is that, for the most part, the characters play it straight instead of constantly trying to remind us of how funny and cute everything is.  Not only does this add to its deadpan charm, but it also lends some scenes a degree of actual suspense and character empathy. 

We begin to care whether or not too-frivolous Steve and too-serious Branka will ever meet halfway and go skiing merrily down the path to love, or if Rita and Steve's jovial friend Josh (Oscar Dyekjær Giese) will escape from being trapped in an attic by zombies even as the wounded Josh begins to turn into one himself.  (Rita pours schnapps on the wound--it's her answer to everything.)

Eventually, of course, the whole thing turns into a zombie free-for-all, and that's where the film dives headlong into the kind of gleefully graphic blood and gore that Peter Jackson's early horror films were splattered with.  It's a gorehound's delight, with disembowelings, beheadings, and dismemberments wherever you look, along with some sho-nuff meat-grinder action here and there. 

Very little of this is laugh-out-loud funny, but it's so earnestly done and pleasantly over-the-top that I didn't mind.  I didn't really even care that Steve and Branka's big solution to the zombie attack relies heavily on, well, snowboarding. 

In fact, this movie is brimming with impressive snowboarding stunts, if that's your thing.  And because of it, I now know that snowboards are our best defense against zombies.

Probably the only really disappointing thing about ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES is the fact that none of the zombies are wearing lederhosen.  But in light of its good points, which include terrific cinematography, superb gore and makeup effects, and an overall ambience of fun, I'm willing to let that slide.

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