Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016)

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies first published by VODzilla.co

There are some genre films whose title is also their best, even their only, asset. Think SyFy’s Sharktopus (2010) or The Asylum’s Sharknado (2013) – titles which immediately nail their films’ particular subgenre (shark film!), and which also take that subgenre for an unexpected spin (a shark combined with an octopus!! sharks riding a tornado!!!). The problem is that these titles are not just their films’ USP, but they have already neatly packaged and delivered a joke that the films themselves can merely repeat ad nauseam. Dominik Hartl’s Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies runs the same risk: the title gives away all at once that this is both a B-movie (‘Attack of the…’) and yet another member of the endless rampaging hordes of zombie flicks, with the twist being its Germanic (or more specifically Austrian) setting – while the reference to Lederhosen suggest a broad, touristic approach to cultural stereotyping.

All this is confirmed as we are introduced to the main characters, American pro snowboarder Steve (Laurie Calvert), Danish snowboarder Josh (Oscar Dyekjær Giese), and Steve’s long-suffering girlfriend Branka (Gabriela Marcinková) – all outsiders merely skimming the surface of local cliché. Among South Tyrol’s ambassadors are: mad scientist Franz (Karl Fischer) whose attempts (in a vaguely topical nod to global warming) to extend the skiing season by creating chemical snow result in an unintended outbreak of zombifying infection in both beasts and humans; and Rita (Margarete Tiesel), a formidable Frau – and the widowed owner of an après-ski tavern – who is unafraid to resort to her late husband’s arsenal in the cellar.

Just about the only element here not forecast by the title is the snowboarding – at first a vehicle for extreme-sport antics on the slopes, and eventually Steve and Branka’s weapon of choice against the Alpine undead in a series of mobile and gleefully gory set-pieces. The real miracle here is that this tale of snowbound shufflers manages to distinguish itself from the otherwise entirely similar Dead Snow (2009) – mostly through sheer lack of Nazis or Norway. This is, nonetheless, a self-conscious piece. Beleaguered and unsure what to do next, Josh calls his horror-loving cousin in Copenhagen for advice, which he then summarises as follows: “It really depends what kind of zombie movie we’re in.”

The answer, it would seem, is a romzomcom, as Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies slaloms around the bumps in Steve and Branka’s relationship. “I do like that you are funny,” Branka tells Steve, “I just hate that you are not serious.” Eternally juvenile, Steve is a fun guy, but incapable of resisting the temptation to carry out a dumb-assed prank, even if it means sabotaging his own, and his friends’, careers. Branka has had enough of his immature hijinks, and dumps him at the film’s beginning – only for the viral mayhem, and the grotesquely absurd situations that ensue from it, to make her realise that her choice is “pretty much a laugh or a scream,” and to reunite with her beau till death do them part. Likewise the film itself knows that engagement with any kind of serious issue can be an uphill struggle, and so instead takes the path of least resistance, whooping and guffawing all the way down to genre’s bottom.

Summary: This Alpine spin on the undead takes zom, rom and com downhill, smoothing over its broad stereotypes with some inventively improbable gore.