Director: Joe Chien
Starring: Yvonne Yao, Jack Kao, Tai Bo, Morris Rong, Dennis To
With zombies all the rage these days, it seems somewhat expected that an Asian take, this one from Taiwan, would make the rounds to studios and get produced. A mysterious infection rages, turning people into flesh eating monsters. Seemingly overnight, the city of Taipei has been overrun with these zombies and people from all walks of life have to band together to survive the never ending waves of the hungry undead.
A fairly generic synopsis that anyone familiar with the zombie genre will recognize, Zombie 108 is one of the first uses of Western zombies in an Asian picture. Typically we’d see jiang-shi or the like, but this is a film heavily influenced by Western horror cinema and it shows. Shows a lack of creativity that is. Zombie 108 is one of the most generic and clichéd horror films I’ve seen in quite a while. Taking tropes and re-enacting them with a culturally diverse cast, we see nothing original and truthfully, I was waiting for the film itself to die.
A cast of actors that deliver some melodramatic garbage and little to no character development is the norm. Terrible acting choices and some very unfunny humor populate this waste of time and even despite the bevy of very pretty women on screen, I couldn’t muster the energy to even sit up. Director Joe Chien also ‘wrote’ this very horrible picture in addition to directing it, and wow does it demonstrate a lack of technique and execution. He decides to focus on some lack luster action sequences and unexciting getaways instead of crafting a sensible plot and driven storyline. His choices in this film show a decided lack of understanding of the craft and seem more like the mish mash of ideas a group of middle school boys would think is cool over a lunch table. His not so subtle jab at the eminently more talented Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang, was definitely not appreciated by this viewer and showed a juvenile mentality to his attitude and work.
Not all is terrible, I did think that the photography and editing were quite good, as well as the makeup, but that just wasn’t enough. What this film does is takes the cheap route in horror and one I absolutely hate. It serves up fast paced sequences to gore with no rhyme or reason and offers little to no investment in the characters. What we see are stereotypical portrayals where each stupid decision makes you wish for their death. With no interesting characters and no driving thread of story, Zombie 108 misses the thing that makes classic zombie films great. Instead, we get an MTV hyped gore and schlock fest that is not only uninteresting, but terribly insulting. Disposable cinema in the strictest sense of the word, I can’t think of many people who would enjoy such drivel, I haven’t disliked a movie like this in a long while.