Two of my all-time favorite movies both come from the late 1970s and, coincidentally, were directed by guys named George: Dawn of the Dead and Slap Shot. So when I first heard about Ahockalypse, I was pretty stoked — I mean, how could you not get pumped about a movie revolving around minor league hockey players fighting the living dead?
Unfortunately, Ahockalypse isn’t the brilliant fusion of gloriously un-P.C. hockey humor and satirical zombie blood and guts that I had hoped for. That doesn’t mean that it’s without a few decent moments, but by and large this is one sports-comedy-horror hybrid that just plain misses the net.
Borrowing liberally from movies like Shaun of the Dead and Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, writer-director Wayne Harry Johnson, Jr.’s flick doesn’t take long to begin the undead shenanigans, with St. Louis Blues color commentator Kelly Chase clubbing a couple of reanimated corpses to death (err, re-death?) before the opening credits even roll. From there, we’re introduced to the main cast, a gaggle of small-town indie league hockey players (who don’t even remotely resemble athletes) and their miscellaneous groupies, including a rather comely redhead who is constantly referred to as a cougar even though she’s only like 29.
Ahockalypse doesn’t even try to explain why zombie-mania is running wild on Austin, Minnesota, but at this point, do we even expect subgenre movies of the like to bother with the exposition anymore? All you need to know is that flannel-clad brain-eaters are all over the place, and our dimwitted heroes and heroines are more concerned about exchanging It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-like banter than saving their own hides.
Indeed, the central storyline of the movie doesn’t even really involve zombies or hockey. Rather, the movie pivots on a plotline surrounding star hockey player Jonesy and his overbearing girlfriend Jenny — who, as fate would have it, is also a lesbian on the downlow who’s constantly cheating on him, yet still demands he marry her for some reason. So we’ve got a bit of a love triangle going on here, which is complicated a bit further when Jenny’s dad comes down with cannibal-itis and these two kids armed with wooden planks hold the rest of the hockey team hostage.
Meanwhile, the team mascot and two Asian women run around greater Minneapolis karate chopping zombies while stereotypical Chinese buffet music plays in the background. Oh, and then a strip club owner forces the defenseman who makes about 15 references to the Home Alone movies do a striptease for him, then the gang runs into this militia and they decide to take refuge at the local ice rink to rig it with booby traps, but when they get there somebody’s already set up a bunch of disco lights and turned on a fog machine.
Long story short, the team our heroes beat earlier in the movie want a rematch, and they want it bad. And considering they’re all technically dead, I can assure you they take the term “sudden death” quite seriously.
If this description of the movie seems disjointed and jumbled, that’s because the movie itself is that disjointed and jumbled. Continuity flies out the window in the last 20 minutes, as characters charbroiled to a crisp show up five minutes later looking like fashion models. And while the cinematography and practical effects are pretty good, the CGI in this one leaves a lot to be desired — hell, some of the green-screening is so bad, it’s almost like the zombies were inserted into the movie using that crappy cropping tool from MS Paint.
But Ahockalypse does have some things going for it. It’s not a laugh-out-loud riot, but it has a couple of decent one-liners here and there. And give these guys props for the grand finale — it might not be as gruesome as the infamous Red Wings/Avalanche brawl from ‘97, but the amount of blood they managed to splatter on the ice is nonetheless impressive.
Alright, let’s run down the highlights, why don’t we? We’ve got 28 dead bodies. 48 undead bodies. Two exposed female breasts. Two exposed male buttocks. Approximately 150 jokes about Russians. One fatal snowmobile accident. Multiple hockey brawls. One topless zombie attack. One zombie elementary schooler attack (with excellent rooftop splatter sound effects.) Hands roll. Multiple exploding heads. One knife through the foot. Gratuitous Donald Trump jokes. Gratuitous beer stealing. Gratuitous references to Fury Road. One lesbian kiss. One striptease sequence. Beer bong fu. Infidelity fu. Electrocution fu. Outstanding mascot kung fu. And, of course, the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place — some serious hockey stick fu.
Starring Jesse Rennicke as Jonesy, the henpecked hockey hero who faces a fate worse than any zombie armageddon — having to marry a philanderer with a selfie addiction; Gabrielle Arrowsmith as Mrs. Jones, the female lead who calls her romantic rival “a top bun lipgloss lesbian bitch”; Kaylee Williams as Jenny, the lesbian daddy’s girl who comes back from girls’ night with hickies all over her neck but swears she isn’t cheating; Squall Charlson as BJ, the comedic relief who keeps a bag of pepperoni in his underwear and says “it’s not gay, we’re just shooting each other in the mouth, simultaneously, with our pants on”; and legendary NHL2Night commentator and ex-Los Angeles Kings coach Barry Melrose as himself, who tells the survivors he doesn’t mind giving them a ride to Moose Jaw at the very end of the movie.
Written and directed by up-and-comer Wayne Harry Johnson, Jr., who probably has a bright future ahead of him based simply on creating lines of dialogue like “Her name was Elsa. After every game, she’d come onto the ice. The cold never bothered her, anyway.”
All in all, I’d consider Ahockalypse a pretty ho-hum zombie spoof, but it has its moments. Still, if you just have to have yourself a sports-themed horror comedy, I’d recommend getting your yuks (and yucks) elsewhere — might I recommend you that Academy Award-nominated genre classic Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies?
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Wayne Harry Johnson, Jr.
Writer(s): Wayne Harry Johnson, Jr.
Stars: Jesse Rennicke, Gabrielle Arrowsmith, Kaylee Williams, Squall Charlson, Barry Melrose
Release date: August 17, 2018
Studio/ Production Co: Sparrowhawk Pictures
Length: 81 minutes
Sub-Genre: Zombie, Horror-Comedy