Director – Charles McCrann
Starring – Charles McCrann, Beverly Shapiro (Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship, and Videotape), and Dennis Helfend (Silent Madness, Naughty Nurse)
Release Date – 1980
Rating – 3.5/5
When I was getting into horror during my late elementary and middle school years I often found myself renting zombie movies from my locally owned video store Dewey’s Video. I snagged so many direct to video and indie horror releases through him for years and loved every minute of it. I’ve always had a soft spot for zombie movies and I have Romero to blame for this.
When Massacre Video announced that they would be releasing the 1980 zombie flick Toxic Zombies I found myself very excited to check it out. The film is notorious for being the founding father of the “redneck zombies” sub-genre of zombie films and was released under several different titles like Bloodeaters and Forest of Fear. When I ordered my copy of Mahakaal I went ahead and snagged a copy of this to check out.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of marijuana farmers who are harvesting their crop when an experimental chemical is crop-dusted over their fields by a government agency with hopes of killing the crop. Instead, those that ingested the chemical turn into mindless zombies hellbent on killing everyone they cross paths with in the woods. **Spoiler Alert**
Toxic Zombies is historical for several reasons. The first is that the film’s director and star Charles McCrann perished during the 9/11 Twin Tower’s attack where he was working. This is heartbreaking to read about as I putting my review together and I hope his family and friends were able to find peace after this. The film was also notoriously part of the Video Nasties and banned in the UK in the 80s and was featured in the Video Nasties documentary from 2010. If that wasn’t enough the fact that it is credited for the redneck zombie sub-genre that spawned films like Troma’s Redneck Zombies is pretty damn impressive. The movie itself is far from perfect but I fucking loved it.
The acting in this one is not the worst I’ve seen but the cast’s lack of experience was evident. Like I said, the acting isn’t that bad but there is a few scenes where the dialogue and “action” is extremely awkward to watch. It doesn’t really take away from the overall film but it does make the scene lose it’s impact.
The story for this one is pretty straight forward and a solid premise for a zombie flick. Having pot growers getting covered in an experimental chemical and killing people is pretty damn clever and painfully late 70s. It does have a little I Drink Your Blood vibe with the “zombies” wielding machetes like the satanic hippies but with that being said it was still very well done. It does slow down from time to time but it doesn’t lag enough to make the viewer lose their attention.
Finally, the film has a lot of blood with minimal effects but if you want some gut munching gore you will be very disappointed. The film is very low budget and it looks like the effects was the aspect of the film that suffered the most. Overall, Toxic Zombies is going to be a turn off for some of you looking for a well polished horror title. However, if you dig fun no budget horror then you will really appreciate this one. The Massacre Video blu looks absolutely fantastic and I would recommend snagging this one regardless if you are a collector or a first time watch. It’s worth every cent.
Limited Edition Slipcase
Brand New Master created from 4k scans of multiple RARE 35mm Theatrical Prints
Bloodshooters – Interview with Cinematographer David Sperling
Farming the Forest – Interview with Actor Claude Scales
Alternate TOXIC ZOMBIE Title Card
Extensive Image Gallery
English Captions for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Trailers for other Massacre Video Releases