You’d be hard-pressed to find a film containing the word “zombie” in the title that has less to do with zombies than this one. A zombie is raised by a voodoo ritual in the first 15 minutes, but it’s promptly killed and never heard from again. The film then turns into a typical slasher with a mystery killer offing a group of American tourists on the fictitious Caribbean island of San Marie. The tourists think it may be the work of a zombie…and God, I wish it were.
Instead, we get a convoluted story involving drug runners, Scooby Doo-like fake tree monsters and voodoo priests. Remarkably, the lone black American, Paul (David Broadnax), appears to be the main hero of the bunch, as Broadnax even gets top billing in the credits. (Perhaps the fact that he’s the film’s writer and producer — remarkable in its own right — had something to do with it.) Despite Broadnax’s insider status, though, he still gets killed in favor of the pompous white male co-star. How do you write yourself in as the lead and then manage to get yourself killed?
The remaining black cast — the native islanders — are at worst murdering drug dealers and at best opportunistic users. While Zombie Island Massacre lacks the comedic camp element of most Troma films, it has all of the lame writing, acting and production values we’re used to. Hooray.