[Fantasia 2019] The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale. When Bites Are Not Free!

31 Jul

Image result for The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale posterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

South Korea certainly has a handle on the zombie epidemic. Whether that’s with a period movie with Rampant (see review here) or the crowd-pleasing Train to Busan, the latest titled The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale (기묘한 가족) is a zom-com that’s basically a Looney Tunes style cartoon with Shaun of the Dead as the hook. Director Lee Min-jae makes his debut and I feel this movie has cult-favourite written all over it! He knows which films from zombie culture to take inspiration from and crank it up a notch.

The action takes place in Poongsan, a remote South Korean village, where the folks there do not even know what a zombie is. Man-Deok (Park In-hwan) is simply wanting to take a vacation. His son Joon-Gul (Jung Jae-young, Castaway on the Moon) and his pregnant daughter-in-law, Nam-Joo (Uhm Ji-won) are a handful. When middle-son Min-Gul (Kim Nam-gil) comes home because he has nowhere else to stay (he lost his job), life is a touch more problematic. Nobody realizes a straggler into town (Jung Ga-ram) is a member of the walking dead and the bites Man-Deok!

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The cause of this pain is because a local pharmacy has been conducting illegal medical experiments and a few of these unwilling participants have broken loose. The patriarch is pleased as he has a renewed lease on life. His vigor lets him deal with the chaos to come after. But as he slowly succumbs to the numbness and becomes hungry for flesh, the real infection takes hold.

The family sees profit and lock pops up. The patriarch gets to bite willing victims but cannot feed. They feel vigorous, and then…. Yes, the moment is short-lived before the brain rotting disease takes their intellect away.

When the youngest of the clan, Hae-gul (Lee Soo-kyung) is romantically interested in patient zero, the hilarity is perfect. We’re not getting My Boyfriend’s Back (1993) or Warm Bodies (2013). Whether there are signs of awareness behind the moans, to see him dragged around town is cute. Ga-ram is perfect in a non-speaking role.

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Nam-Joo steals the scenes with her cooking pan. She’s almost as manic as the chain-smoking landlady from Kung Fu Hustle. The delivery is classic slapstick, and I was glued. I worried if the baby will get to live or not. From a movie about family doing anything to staying together during this craziness (the military are obviously slow to save this town)–even when the patriarch begins to show signs of life (he regains his mortality). In the case of survival, this film shines more when it takes on the serious tones of a George Romero movie.

With country knocking the zombie genre right out of the park with these hits, I’m looking forward to what the filmmakers from this country can imagine next. Personally, I feel we do not have enough rom-zom-coms out there even though this was not the core of the film. If I was to give this film a ranking in my top three, it’s easily number two on my list. Yes, favourtism is involved with A Little Bit Zombie, but it’s tough to beat the antics of Stephen McHattie who is just as zany as Nam-Joo.

5 Stars out of 5

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