Zombie For Sale (its alternate title is The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale) is a South Korean zombie comedy from first time writer and director Lee Min-jae.
A diabetic medicine called NoInsulin, developed by a company known as Human In Bio, has been resulting in strange side effects.
Human In Bio has been utilizing illegal human clinical trials on the homeless and college students for at least a decade. NoInsulin has essentially been creating zombies of its test subjects. One of those zombies escapes and makes its way to the small, rural town of Pungsan.
The Park family owns a nearly deserted gas station in Pungsan where they have to reel in customers by sabotaging nearby roads since money is so tight.
The older brother, Joon-gul (Jeong Jae-young, Going By the Book) is the mechanic and his pregnant wife, Nam-joo (Uhm Ji-won, Running Wild), is basically the brains of the operation.
Joon-gul’s younger brother, Min-gul (Kim Nam-gil), is a college graduate that becomes a zombie “expert” after a single night of research at the local internet café.
Their younger sister, Hae-gul (Lee Soo-kyung), loves animals but her pets always die. Their father, Man-duk (Park In-hwan, Thirst), is a loud-mouthed gambler that is always in debt.
The zombie makes its way to Pungsan and ends up biting Man-duk with some unexpected results. With her love for caring for other creatures, Hae-gul names the zombie Jjong-bi (Jung Ga-ram). Jjong-bi awakens an infectious uproar in the town of Pungsan as Zombie For Sale adds a fairly unique spin on the undead genre.
This film aims to be a foreign addition to the rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy) genre, but fails to stick the landing.
Zombie For Sale is probably most like Warm Bodies with Hae-gul and Jjong-bi’s relationship never moving past the, “stare longingly into each other’s eyes,” phase.
Besides Hae-gul blushing around Jjong-bi at times, their bond is almost familial and maybe that’s the point. They’re supposed to be close with this almost inseparable and unspeakable connection and that’s as far as it goes.
The trailer unfortunately gives away some of the most interesting sequences in Zombie For Sale. Man-duk is bitten by Jjong-bi, but instead of turning into a zombie his appearance gets much more youthful.
The other men in Pungsan get envious and they pay the Park family to have Jjong-bi bite them. It’s this really twisted take on the fountain of youth that is obviously built to backfire to push the story along.
Jjong-bi also spends the entire film munching and crunching on heads of cabbage. He develops a taste for South Korean hot sauce and is like an undead child at Disneyland when Hae-gul takes him to a cabbage patch.
The problem with Zombie For Sale is that it doesn’t ever really commit to any of its blended genres. It’s not romantic enough to be emotionally corny, it isn’t silly enough to be funny, and it isn’t serious enough to be scary.
Despite a few drops of blood on Man-duk’s head after he’s bitten, the film is nearly totally absent of blood. There’s some mild harsh language, but Zombie For Sale would likely be able to squeeze past the MPAA with a PG-13 rating or the mildest R-rating of all time.
Two of the best sequences of the film are in slow-motion. There’s the zombie attack at the wedding with pink flower pedals and Nam-joo’s narrow escape at the gas station where his jacket is ripped open as stuffing flies into the air.
The slow-motion allows you to truly admire the carnage taking place on-screen and appreciate the fact that a pregnant woman didn’t get mauled to pieces. They’re also most likely the most visually memorable sequences in the film.
Zombie For Sale deserves some credit for injecting some creativity and originality into zombies when it feels like everything has already been done with the genre.
A zombie bite being the gateway to eternal youth is an awesome concept and the ending of the film takes an unforeseen detour into more optimistic territory.
Unfortunately though, the elements you look for in a zombie film like blood or scares or great make-up effects don’t exist.
The film introduces several interesting concepts and sticks its toe into the waters of several beloved film genres, but it never dives in any further.
What remains is this lighthearted and harmless venture that prances around some dead bodies and explosions for a couple hours before skipping off into the sunset just as carefree as when it first began.
If you’re going to take the dread away from the horror, then the comedy needs to be front and center or it needs to feel like something you can watch while cuddling up with your significant other. Zombie For Sale just flounders around on dry land like an undead fish out of water.
Zombie For Sale is one of several July subscription titles on Arrow Video Channel, which is available on Apple TV. Arrow also released the film on Blu-ray earlier this month.
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Zombie For Sale Review: A Light, Harmless Dropkick of a Zombie Comedy
- A clever twist on the zombie genre
- Light and easy to watch.
- Doesn’t commit to laughs or scares.
- It’s fun, but kind of forgettable.