To prematurely write off Zombeavers would be an easy task based on the numerous trailers featuring zombified beaver puppets who growl angrily at the camera, as the footage suggests a watch that takes B-Movie stupidity to realms yet unexplored. Who needs a bunch of undead beavers thwapping their tails against the ground while they’re trying to gnaw through a group of drunken fratheads and their sorority babes? Pointless nudity, radiated beaver dams, filthy double entendres, goofy creature work – do horror fans really need to be subjected to such an untamed zombie/animal hybrid?!
Yeah – you’re f#cking right they do!
The same could have been said for movies like Gremlins, Child’s Play, or any other heavily puppeteered genre exploration that requires heavy special effects techniques and loads of imagination. Sure, we already know how those two famous examples turned out. Gremlins is a classic monster mash for the holidays and Child’s Play spawned one of the longest-standing horror franchises in history, but director Jordan Rubin could have shot himself in the foot had his beavers been better left covered up.
Have no fear, my ravenous horror amigos, because Zombeavers features bucktoothed beasts who are charmingly demented despite being restricted by the hand shoved up their lower half. You’ll burst out laughing at these angry beavers and their murderous intentions, whether they’re lit on fire or cackling maniacally after biting through a tree that kills a character upon impact. These furry murderers are a marketable selling point instead of laughable deterrent, and their plushy nature only makes them more endearing given the film’s homage-ish nature.
Those pesky mammals aren’t the only characters found in Zombeavers though, as the likes of Cortney Palm (Sushi Girl), Jake Weary (It Follows), Rachel Melvin (Dumb And Dumber To), and Peter Gilroy (The Best Man Holiday) fight back against their toothy attackers. The kids (with Hutch Dano and Lexi Atkins thrown in) are a group of overblown stereotypes who fornicate incessantly, guzzle beers and cockily talk about kicking zombeaver ass, but even under the thick layer of beaver-laced jokes, Zombeavers is acted in a way that brings us back to the golden age of schlocky horror. No one could possibly defend the group’s actions, but that’s because Rubin and co-writers Jon and Al Kaplan properly balance a hilariously self-referential coyness (“Can we PLEASE stop with the beaver jokes?!”) with exploited character tropes meant not to surprise, but to entertain. Many likeminded films fail when cranking the cheese level all the way to “Limburger,” but Zombeaver’s Z-grade nature makes proper genre entertainment out of the whole lot of hardbodies.
All this and I haven’t even mentioned the plot of Zombeavers? Where are my manners! The chaos ensues when Joe (Bill Burr) and Luke (John Mayer) “accidentally” fall victim to the follies of texting while driving, plowing through a “helpless” deer that jigs free a container of radioactive waste. Swallowed up by a raging river, the container floats along until resting up against a beaver dam, but the impact causes a puncture that releases a noxious green gas. Cut to three sorority chicks who are looking forward to a weekend of lakeside fun and zero male distractions, the inevitable appearance of their boy-toys later that night, and the discovery that all the local beavers have been turned into ravenous zombies. Trust me – Rubin NEVER overachieves in the least, and he becomes a better horror storyteller for it.
Zombeavers is a modern day Corman flick, and probably something Roger Corman himself would be proud of. It’s absolutely imbecilic in concept, yet utterly hilarious in execution thanks to intelligent designing and a seething passion for midnight movies drenched in blood. It’s kind of the Keyser Söze of zombie beaver movies, presenting itself as a lovable goon who reveals much later on that everything was calculated down to the slightest tail-pound.
The beavers themselves cause plenty of grotesque chaos, but it’s Rubin and his effects team who mix in some wild werewolf-like transformations worthy of a good howl. All the gore is practically executed, as a good B-movie should be, scraping animal guts from the grates of trucks and removing appendages from cast members. The violence also has an air of comedy about itself, going for gag kills to lighten brutality. This ensures that Zombeavers never, EVER takes itself seriously – even in the face of a bloodied, glassy-eyed beaver biting away at human flesh.
If you sat through the Zombeavers trailer and chuckled at the concept, let me assure you that Jordan Rubin delivers bucktoothed carnage exactly as advertised. The schlock factor is off the charts, but compared to a film like Sharknado, Zombeavers makes SyFy look like a schoolyard punk in the face of a respectable genre understanding that transitions into boobs, beers, and one hell of a splatterific vacation from Hell. Beaver season opens with a bang this year – grab your shotgun and join the party. This is the most important movie about zombie beavers. Ever.
Zombeavers is DAM good fun. Heh. See what I did there? But seriously. Zombeavers is an 80s creature throwback with a vicious bite to match its unique bark.