Choking Hazard

by Eric Siegelstein

You've got to hand it to the Czechs. They take their zombie attacks in stride.

Marek Dobes's Choking Hazard, one of the midnight premieres at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, is an insane, nihilistically gleeful zombie comedy, imported from the land that invented Pilsner.

The movie lets you know where its going from the very first scene, in which the camera moves through a forest to where a woman in Emma Peel leather is straddled over a fat zombie, repeatedly bashing his head with a rock. She stops, and the zombie twitches, so back again to the rock - bash, bash, bash, bash, ad infinitum.

This woman is only a minor character, however. Most of the story takes place at an isolated hotel (of course!), where a small group of men and women are gathered for a "meaning-of-life" philosophy class, taught by a blind man bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anthony Hopkins. The class is first interrupted by a Jehovah's Witness porno actor who was supposed to be shooting Uncle Tom's Cabin, but with more anal," but has come to the wrong hotel. He gladly joins the class, but then they're interrupted yet again, this time by the horde of brain-hungry zombies. Their reaction is priceless:

"Zombie woodsmen! Run!"

Choking Hazard is one of those movies that's just plain fun, occupying a space somewhere between a Troma production and Animal House. The characters react to extreme situations in a such a chill manner, as though these zombies trying to kill them are more a nuisance than anything, another interruption as they ponder the meaning of life. There's a scene involving an eyeball that's just incredibly funny and gross; trust me, it beats out Kill Bill 2 as the best "popped-eye" scene in film this year. The title means nothing at all: at the Q&A following the screening, the director said he saw it on a Happy Meal toy. There's a dance sequence, courtesy of mass zombie electrocution. And it's a philosophy lesson, too - the film itself is divided into two parts, titled "Instinct," where our heroes run from the mindless undead, and "Reason," in which they must overcome more intelligent "superzombies." And though the professor is eventually bitten and zombified, this doesn't at all stop the lecture. The whole thing is just fucking hilarious.It's also got something we've just never seen a zombie do before -- nunchucks. Awesome.