David Gebroe’s Zombie Honeymoon is a zombie romantic comedy (zom-rom-com) about fish out of water newlyweds struggling with life change — and that change includes zombification!
The Newlyweds (and the Newly Dead): Denise (Tracy Coogan) and Danny (Graham Sibley) Zanders
Ah, young love! As the movie begins, it seems Denise and Danny are made to be together. In fact, their love is so bold that they’re changing their lives around — spontaneously quitting jobs, with every intent to move to Portugal. However, the couple experiences a major setback when surfer boy Danny gets attacked and infected by a random zombie emerging from the water near their honeymoon beach house.
In the hospital, Danny officially dies from the attack. Then, in true zombie fashion, he comes back from the dead. As one might expect, he isn’t quite the same Danny. As one might not expect, Danny doesn’t entirely fit the mold of the George A. Romero zombie. He retains his basic personality and intelligence, rather than becoming an unthinking, creepily lumbering, living dead thing. Still, he does crave human flesh, which clashes with his previous vegetarian lifestyle and threatens to collapse their marriage.
What Zombie Honeymoon Does Well: It’s Relatable
The idea of young people — either newlyweds or single catches — being out on their own seems prominent in this movie, either as a specific topic or as a mood or a feeling. This is basically a universal issue, and something most have either struggled with or felt enchanted by (or maybe both). They want independence and to pursue their dreams, yet the adult world threatens to hold them back. So, when they grow bold enough to form a new life together, of course life throws them a complete curve-ball.
Sure, the frustration in this story is mostly the process of zombification, but it’s a frustration nonetheless. Denise tries to protect her new husband, prevent his growing appetite, his dehumanization and decay, but it all seems inevitable. She is left with disconcerting choices: (a) Put up with, and cover up, his behavior (and his increasingly decomposed presence); (b) Put a stop to his behavior, either by turning him in or killing him herself, or; (c) She could just leave, abandon him and their relationship, and risk other people getting killed.
Where Zombie Honeymoon Falls Short: Its “Made-For-TV” Feel and Somewhat Uneven Tone
Zombie Honeymoon is not a bad movie, and it’s worth an occasional re-watch, but at times I was put-off by its “made-for-TV” feel. This does not happen with every movie, so I’m not sure how to explain the problem. Maybe it’s a bit distracting, or maybe I’m used to such movies being funnier. While it does have a few laughs, the movie becomes surprisingly serious, which I wasn’t quite prepared for. Then, at other times, the movie is perhaps a bit too self aware. I think it threw me off a bit.
Also, I think Danny may have retained too many of his human qualities, thus making him a little less scary somehow. Then again, I can see the other argument, that him being basically human while becoming a zombie is scarier. I don’t know. The point is debatable, especially for horror nerds. Obviously, Danny’s not the first human-esque zombie. For examples, you have Return of the Living Dead 3‘s Julie (for which Melinda Clarke won Fangoria’s Best Actress Chainsaw Awards), and Day of the Dead‘s lovable zombie, Bub (Sherman Howard).
Zombie Honeymoon works overall, and is worth the occasional re-watch. It’s a zom-rom-com with heart, and plenty of gore.