Naked Zombie girl is Back could have easily been a disaster, but ends up being a fun ride with solid effects and action, even if it’s not exactly breaking new ground.
I’m not sure what I was initially expecting from a short film called Naked Zombie Girl is Back, but my ears certainly did perk up at the promise of a “grindhouse superhero.” The zombie genre is a well-traversed one, with many recurring tropes and clichés. But many films within this particular genre also have the potential to be exciting and even profound. So with that in mind, let’s see what Naked Zombie Girl is Back brings to the table.
Naked Zombie Girl is Back is the sequel to another short film, Naked Zombie Girl (2014), both of which were written and directed by Rickey Bird Jr. The film is a simple story of the titular woman (Nicole Cinaglia) trying to escape from a gunman (D.T. Carney) though a hoard of the undead. And, during the chase, the woman’s clothes get ripped off, leaving her to fight for her life while naked.
First of all, I want to say the effects and craft of this movie are fairly impressive! You can tell that the project wasn’t exactly flushed with cash, but Bird is able to do a lot with a little: the prosthetics, makeup and blood all look quite good, the soundtrack is a retro 80 homage that is effective in setting tone while adding just the right amount of camp, and the cinematography does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere of urgency and disorientation without making me feel sick- the picture moves a lot without resorting to shaky-cam, and I really appreciated it.
The writing is fine, if not exactly ground-breaking. If you’re familiar with the zombie genre, there won’t be a ton of surprises in the plot, but I suppose with a runtime of thirteen minutes, it would be difficult to fit in a ton of twists and turns effectively. One thing Naked Zombie Girl is Back does to set itself apart is in the dialogue, in that there’s hardly any. Characters might let out an exclamation or expletive now and then, but by and large they don’t speak much, relying more on visual story-telling through body language and facial expressions. It’s an interesting idea for a zombie feature, and should this project ever get adapted into a feature-length film, I’d be curious to see if Bird keeps that particular idea and how he’d implement it into a longer context.
And of course, you can’t really have a discussion about Naked Zombie Girl is Back without talking about the titular naked zombie girl. Now, if the movie is not careful, having a woman be naked for most of the film’s runtime could easily turn really problematic and uncomfortable very quickly.
I’m happy to say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was handled. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that there are zero shots that feel male-gazey and objectifying, but they tend to be in the minority. Most shots of the zombie girl focus on the determination on her face as she fights for survival, and full-body shots are more focused on showcasing the sheer amount of blood that covers her body as she cuts through the dead with a chainsaw. She may be naked, but the zombie girl is not framed particularly sexually as shots seldom focus on her nethers, and the story is primarily focused on her kicking ass.
Naked Zombie Girl is Back is a solid film that will definitely appeal to zombie-film fans. Part of me wishes the film would have leaned more into the potential for camp, but at the same time, I think resisting that urge prevents the film from being straight-up pornographic. Ricky Bird Jr walks a fine and risky line making this, but I think he threads the needle successfully. So if watching a naked woman fight zombies without it being too tasteless sounds like a good time to you, I say give Naked Zombie Girl is Back a chance!
Naked Zombie Girl is Back will be screened at Screamfest on October 16, 2022.