Zombiology / Vidar the Vampire Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)
DirectorAlan Lo/Thomas Aske Berg/Fredrik Waldeland
Release Date(s)2017 (September 21, 2018)
Studio(s)Epic Pictures (Dread Central Presents)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C+
- Overall Grade: B-
Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight (AKA Gam man da song si) is a 2017 horror dramedy from Hong Kong filmmaker Alan Lo, based upon his original short film. When a monster emerges from an animated TV show and begins turning everyone into zombies, it’s up to Lung (Michael Ning) and Chi-Yeung (Kai-Chung Cheung) to try and save their family and friends, including Lung’s stepmother (Carrie Ng), his estranged father (Alex Man), Chi-Yeung’s crush (Cherry Ngan), and Lung’s magazine idol (Venus Wong).
In all honesty, Zombiology is one of those films that doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think a lot of it is lost in cultural translation, but there are some genuine moments of drama that are heartfelt enough to make you care about the characters. There aren’t a ton of gore effects, but once the zombie battle royale begins in the last act, there’s some fun to be had. Like a lot of zombie comedies, it’s trying hard to be Shaun of the Dead, coming nowhere close, of course. There are plenty of off-the-wall moments throughout that make it at least worth a watch, but it’s not a film you’re likely going to want to see more than once.
Vidar the Vampire (AKA VampyrVidar) is a 2017 Norwegian film about a young man (Thomas Aske Berg) who has spent his life tending to his farm for his mother, longing to go out into the world and meet women. His prayers are eventually answered when a vampire, who claims to be Jesus, turns him into one as well and drags him all over the city, both devouring all in their wake. However, Vidar is conflicted about his new persona and will have to go on a personal journey in order to sort himself out.
I personally enjoyed Vidar the Vampire much more than I did Zombiology, simply because Vidar is a much richer experience with plenty more going on spiritually and emotionally for the lead character. His obsession with women leads to him biting his victims in, well, tender areas, all the while being both bullied and rooted for by his vampiric companion. As the story unfolds through Vidar’s retelling of it to a psychiatrist, we certainly become aware that we may not be dealing with someone who is entirely all there, and that everything he’s telling us may all be in his head. It’s a question that’s never fully answered, even with what many might consider to be a definitive ending. Without spoiling it, I don’t believe it to be conclusive, and it may be that we’re still experiencing the world through Vidar’s eyes, and that what’s happening may or may not be what’s actually happening. Regardless, it’s an intriguing look into a lonely individual’s world, which is less horrific than it is introspective.
Zombiology’s Blu-ray transfer is a mix of varying qualities of digital cinematography, some of which are good, and some of which are not so good – but being that this a low budget project, I’ll give it a slight pass. Everything appears clear and well-defined, although it’s all fairly flat. Black levels are deep and the color palette is varied, while the contrast is just a tad too high. There’s really not much you can do to make this look any better, and as is, it’s decent enough. Vidar the Vampire, by contrast, is much more palatable. Although it too was shot digitally, it has much more depth and better textures. Flesh tones appear accurate and the color palette, although limited in some areas, pops a little bit more. It’s definitely the better presentation of the two.
For the audio, Zombiology comes with a single Cantonese 5.1 Dolby Digital presentation with optional subtitles in English and English SDH. It’s a relatively problem-free track, although it tends to get a little too busy during action scenes. Dialogue comes through well but music sometimes takes more of backseat than it probably should. For Vidar the Vampire, a single Norwegian 5.1 Dolby Digital track is included with optional subtitles in English, English SDH, and Norwegian. Like its video counterpart, it’s a more satisfying aural experience comparatively. Everything is mixed well with frequent low end activity and ambience, as well as clean dialogue, and good separation of elements.
ZOMBIOLOGY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/C+/B-
VIDAR THE VAMPIRE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B+/B+
Both films also come with their own separate set of extras. For Zombiology, there are 4 brief making-of featurettes, which are about 3 minutes in length each (People, Story, Weapons, Zombie); Zombie Guillotines, which is Alan Lo’s 10-minute short film that the feature is based upon (with optional subtitles); and teaser and full-length trailers. For Vidar the Vampire, there’s a nice audio commentary with writers and directors Thomas Aske Berg and Fredrik Waldeland who are very informative, but also laid back about the film; Believe the Dance, director Thomas Aske Berg’s 15-minute short film; and the film’s trailer. It’s also worth noting that the artwork for this release is reversible, with Zombiology on one side and Vidar the Vampire on the other.
Dread Central Presents continues its range of high class horror projects with both Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight and Vidar the Vampire, two contrasting pieces of work that fully complement each other. I feel that Vidar is a much stronger and more important film, but this release manages to give us a taste of what’s going outside of normal horror channels. If you’re a genre fan, it’s a release worth checking out.
– Tim Salmons