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The Plaga Zombie Trilogy (Intervision Picture Corp.) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Plaga Zombie Trilogy (Intervision Picture Corp.) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Intervision Picture Corp.
    Released on: October 25th, 2022.
    Director: Pablo Parés, Hernan Sáez
    Cast: Berta Muñiz, Pablo Parés, Hernán Sáez
    Year: 1997, 2001, 2011
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Plaga Zombie Trilogy – Movie Review:

    Intervision Picture Corp. unleashes the three films that make up Argentinian filmmakers Pablo Parés and Hernan Sáez’s infamous shot on video epics, The Plaga Zombie Trilogy, on Blu-ray for the first time remastered and with a nice selection of extra features to boot, proving that we really do live in a golden age of boutique home video releases!

    Disc One – Plaga Zombie / Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante

    Low on plot and money but high on energy and creativity, the first movie let us in on the fact that an alien race has infected parts of humanity with a virus that turns them into zombies. Enter a duo of friends – a wrestler named John West (Berta Muñiz) and med student named Bill Johnson (Pablo Parés) – who live in a small town in Argentina. They’re unaware of the alien involvement in all of this but quickly learn that something has turned a whole lot of their neighbors into flesh-eating ghouls.

    When they eventually decide that they have to fight back, they use unorthodox and creative ways of disposing of what appears to be an ever increasing zombie horde out to turn them into lunch, eventually teaming up with nerdy guy Max Giggs (Hernán Sáez) to try their best to save the day.

    The first film runs a quick sixty-seven minutes and almost ten minutes of that running time is taken up by the credits, so it’s pretty brisk. The comic book influence is readily apparent (at one point a character reads a copy of DC Comics’ Invasion) and there are plenty of times where it’s clear that the movie is being played for laughs. Clearly influenced by Peter Jackson’s early splatstick pictures, the movie may wear its microscopic budget on its sleeve but it’s a whole lot of fun.

    The gore effects are cartoonish and very over the top. There's plenty of ooze and slime to go along with the blood and the bile, and there's an obvious love for wrestling worked into the storyline as well! For a movie that was made on a consumer grade camcorder for a budget of $450 in 1997, it’s a surprisingly ambitious movies. The filmmakers do a great job of taking advantage of all of the (obviously limited) resources at their disposal, and they did a solid job of choosing the right types of locations to use as a backdrop for their story.

    This sense of enthusiasm and an obvious love for genre makes it easy to overlook the fact that the cinematography is pretty rudimentary and that the makeup effects are never really that convincing. There are logic gaps aplenty here to contend with and the tone is inconsistent at times, but overall, this one has a really solid mix of humor, horror and energy and it makes for a pretty entertaining way to kill an hour in front of your TV set.

    The second film, made four years later in 2001, picks up where the first movie left off. It opens in a dark room with a slide show that feels like it was taken out of 1984. From here, we catch up with John, Bill and Max, who have been abandoned by the F.B.I. when things went south. Their town is still overrun by zombies but apparently there’s one single, solitary map around somewhere that will show them the only safe way to get out of town. In order to find the map and save their own skin, they’ve got to deal with scores of zombies – but will they be able to work together long enough to make that happen or will their infighting tear the group apart before the zombies get a chance to?

    Much longer at an hour and forty-five minutes, this one does a surprisingly good job of holding our attention throughout what might at first seem like a pretty bloated running time for a micro-budgeted SOV zombie picture. Again, the influence of Jackson’s movies is on full display, but there’s some Raimi influence working its way in here as well.

    The acting and cinematography are noticeably better this time around. Granted, nobody here is going to win an Oscar for their performance but there is, once again, plenty of enthusiasm and an infectious spirit of fun prevalent throughout the movie. The story is fairly light but it’s enough to bridge the gaps between the movie’s multiple over the top gore set pieces and scenes of man versus zombie that make up a lot of its running time. There are a few fun twists involving conspiracy plots and some throw backs to the zombie plague’s alien origins worked into things as well.

    Disc Two - Plaga Zombie: Zone Mutante Revolución Toxicá

    Running ninety-one minutes, this third movie, made in 2011, once again catches up with John, Bill and Max and it works on the same level as the first two movies even if it was shot a decade after the second picture was made.

    Once again, the plot is ludicrous and much of the movie played for laughs, picking up where the second movie finished off. The alien infection that started all of this has turned into a full-fledged ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatches’ style invasion of the Earth itself. As things eventually hit the fan in every conceivable way, our three heroes come up with a plan but have to split up to make it work with the very fate of humanity itself hanging in the balance and a rogue F.B.I. agent running about making things difficult for the trio.

    Maybe a little goofier than the first two movies, this third entry moves quickly and features some great gags throughout, most of which involve copious amounts of gore. Separating the three main characters gives the story a bit of time to expand on their personalities a bit and as they go about trying to execute their respective parts of the mission (and inevitably wind up having to deal with loads of zombie predators) it proves to be pretty entertaining. There are bigger concepts at work in this one as well, including some more conspiracy angles and the alien invasion aspect of the plot plays a bigger part in all of this than it has in the past.

    In short, this third, and so far final, entry in the series takes what worked well in the first two and basically expands on it, giving us more gore, more quirky characters and more nonsensical but enjoyable plotlines to follow. It’s also worth pointing out that while this is, once again, a very low budget movie, the directors and their crew have again improved over time. The camerawork and effects are better here and the editing is stronger as well. The gore still looks very over the top and cartoonish but at this point, you kind of want that out of a Plaga Zombie movie.

    Some of the ‘guy with a weapon versus the zombie horde’ scenes on display in the movie (there are a few) are extremely ambitious and just really impressive to watch. There’s a lame subplot here involving a certain character who befriends a zombie that kind of slows things down a bit and doesn’t really add much to the movie, and there are parts in the middle stretch of the movie where you wonder if the editing couldn’t have tightened things up a bit, but those issues aside, there’s a lot to like here.

    The acting is on par here with the second film, not amazing but fun to watch. The three main players are presumably pretty comfortable with their characters at this point and, as it was in the past, always appear to be having a blast doing their thing.

    The Plaga Zombie Trilogy – Blu-ray Review:

    Intervision Picture Corp. brings The Plaga Zombie Trilogy to region free Blu-ray on two 50GB discs with each film properly and framed its original 1.33.1 aspect ratio, the first movie in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and the two sequels in 1080i high definition. Picture quality is okay, given the movies’ no-budget roots. Detail is about as good as you can realistically expect it to be and never rises above its shot on video origins, nor should it. Colors look reasonably good here. Some of the darker scenes are a little murky but again, you can only really do so much with tape-sourced elements. Overall, these are very watchable, just keep your expectations in check.

    Each film in this set is presented in its original Spanish language in a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, with optional subtitles available in English only. Audio quality is also decent here, but again, limited by the movies’ origins. Dialogue is clean and clear and the tracks are balanced. Some of the effects muffle the characters in a few spots but this isn’t so common that it becomes an annoyance.

    Extras on the first disc include a trailer for the first and second movie as well as a teaser trailer for the second movie.

    The second disc contains a bunch of interesting extras, starting with a seventy-eight minute documentary on the making of the trilogy entitled A Million Zombies — The Story Of Plaga Zombie. This piece does a great job of exploring the history of the first Argentinian zombie movie by way of interviews with the main guys involved in making it - Pablo Parés, Hernán Sáez, Diego Paré, Sebastian "Berta" Muniz and quite a few others. They talk about the homemade nature of the movie and the low budget they had to work with, how they came to meet and be friends as kids, making their own animated movies as kids and the importance of getting their hands on a camcorder for the first time so that they could make their own short films. This led, eventually, to getting more and more ambitious and then making the first movie in the trilogy in this set as teenagers. From here they cover where some of the ideas came from, using everything they could get their hands on to make their movies, the influence of Peter Jackson's Bad Taste and Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2, buying guts at a butcher's shop to use in their movies, getting the different cast members together and then going on to make the two sequels. Along the way we learn about some amusing legal issues that arose, the media attention that they got, production problems that arose, getting more ambitious with the sequels, conflicts that came up during production, getting their movies released internationally, deciding to make Plaga Zombie open source and some of the projects that this decision spawned and quite a bit more. It's a really interesting and thorough documentary that is definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed the movies.

    Plaga Zombie: The Animated Miniferies is an amusing fourteen minute cartoon take on the story that explains how zombies have come to essentially replace humans, now dealing with many of the same problems that the living have had to deal with. It features the same main three characters from the movies -John, Bill and Max - as they once again have to deal with hordes of the undead and a foxy redhead who wants to join their group among other problems.

    The disc also includes a selection of eight short films, all of which were shot for peanuts on a camcorder when the team behind the Plaga Zombie movies was really young.

    New York Cop - This is a five minute short about a man sent to 1992 to kill a cop. He winds up in New York City where he meets a kid who reads a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic and won't help him find the cop he needs to kill. Eventually the time traveler learns where the cop is which leads to a showdown of sorts.

    La Cama (The Bed) - This is an eight minute short that features a bed with a weird light under it. A kid lies down to read an Archie comic, turns the light off to go to bed and is then pulled under the bed. It gets weirder from there. It's a pretty fun horror short with some neat makeup effects in it.

    Bajo El Poder De La Garra Maldita (Under The Power Of The Wicker Claw) - This eleven minute short tells the story of a guy named Scotty who gets a call from some dude named Butch. He gets a a strange package with some sort of creature in it that messes him up, and then has to deal with a transmitter of some sort. Later, he pukes a lot of blood and then finds himself in a race against time to try and save his own life. You can definitely see the Sam Raimi influence in this one.

    El Esquelete Y Yo (The Skeleton And I) - This quick two minute short sees a guy get out of bed, get ready for his day and then leave his room only for a tiny skeleton to come to life in his absence.

    Tuuuuuuuuuu... - This short runs four minutes and in it, a guy in a Homer Simpson shirt with a bandage on his toe wakes up when the phone rings. No one is there, is he going crazy? Sure seems that way.

    Amigos Del Demonio (The Demon's Friend) - This three minute short sees a few friends inadvertently summon a demon and then have to deal with it. Again, there is a strong Raimi influence in this one as well, and some pretty cool gore and makeup effects.

    Mar 6 - Next up is an eleven minute short that opens in a room full of toys and VHS tapes where a guy named Martin reads Fangoria in bed. He gets up to have a shower and clean himself up unaware that he has welts on his back. As he goes about his day he finds a 'MAR 6' mark on his arm that won't wash off. From here, he gets sick and his body starts to turn against him after he has his breakfast. He calls for help but to no avail, and then he has to deal with his little sister and his father. This one is pretty goopy and gory and really well done.

    Cucaracha (Cockroach) - The last short in the collection runs four minutes. In it, we see a cockroach climb into a guy’s ear. He flips out and doesn't know what's going on and isn’t sure how to fix the problem, trying a Q-tip and then a plunger.

    Finishing up the extras on the second disc is a trailer for Plaga Zombie: Zone Mutante Revolución Toxicá.

    The Plaga Zombie Trilogy - The Final Word:

    The Plaga Zombie Trilogy is a ridiculous amount of fun. The movies a funny, gory and action packed and despite proudly wearing their influences on their sleeves, often times very creative as well. The Blu-ray collection from Intervision Picture Corp. presents the movies looking as good as the probably can with some great extra features as well. Highly recommended!



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