In Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante (“Zombie Plague: Mutant Zone”), a 2001 horror-comedy from Argentina, an unchecked alien virus runs rampant over the population of a small town, turning the majority of the residents into voracious zombies. The FBI, who allowed the aliens to test their virus in town on a very limited basis, becomes increasingly alarmed at the high rate of zombie infection.
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the FBI director orders the release of a few recently captured survivors into the center of town, possibly to aid in the combat of the enraged and rapidly-spreading zombies. John West, a highly-esteemed wrestler/cowboy, along with wide-eyed Bill and the be-goggled Max, soon find themselves stranded in town, surrounded by its virus-ridden inhabitants. A diskette containing a map of the town is discovered, but it will take 12 hours to decode. The 3 survivors struggle to stick together and survive as the minutes tick by, with occasional assistance provided by abandoned weapons or gardening equipment.
Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone is a sequel to 1997’s Plaga Zombie, which featured the same directors and many of the same characters. Directors Pablo Peres and Hernan Saez have been obviously inspired by the entire oeuvre of Peter Jackson, particularly his early work. Strikingly similar to Dead Alive, Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone is rife with low, hand-held camera shots, crazy, wide-angle close-ups, and bargain-basement gore. Frequently, pastel face paint is a zombie’s only defining attribute. However, the film has an energy that can’t be denied, and the gore is hilariously over the top.
In one scene, a zombie approaches Bill, holding his exposed intestine out in front of his torso like a gun, and fires liquid feces into Bill’s face. In another scene, a rebel fighter perpetuates the ultimate revenge by peeling open a zombie’s cranium and hawking a load of saliva directly onto this frontal lobe; this, of course, is followed by the zombie’s humorous reaction shot of alarm. Not necessarily the stuff of high art.
The sound effects are boisterous and the zombies are always mugging for the camera; this has a tendency to mix awkwardly with the occasionally mean-spirited nature of the gore, making for an uneven ride. That being said, Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone is well-paced and never boring, with Peres and Saez crafting some intense chase sequences and exuberant, chaotic fight scenes. Highly recommend for fans of the zombie subgenre or curious Peter Jackson admirers. With Spanish subtitles.