François Sagat as the titular zombie (Photo: Strand Releasing)

Directed by Bruce LaBruce
USA/Germany/France. 62 min. Not rated
With François Sagat, Rocco Giovanni, Wolf Hudson, Eddie Diaz, Andrew James, Matthew Rush, Erik Rhodes, Francesco D’Macho, Adam Killian & Tony Ward

This sometimes sexy, sometimes chilling horror-porn-art house piece has a strong message, yet it feels like Bruce LaBruce light. There’s none of the raw energy that made The Raspberry Reich (2004) a revelation, and there’s not enough of the thought-provoking, satirical humor that embodied his last one, Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008). This time around it’s a pretty straightforward (though anything but straight) plot in which a zombie emerges naked from the Pacific and stalks Los Angeles in search of hot, sexy, and recently dead men so he can reanimate them through stomach-fucking, chest-fucking, and other unconventional sex methods. As LaBruce has said, “Zombie porn is practical: you can create your own orifice!”

Played by the iconic gay porn star François Sagat, the muscle-bound zombie conceals his monstrous features (greenish skin, ghoulish teeth, and a gargantuan black, spiked sex organ) by shape shifting into a disheveled drifter type. By the end of the film, it’s hard to tell whether the zombie is real or if it’s actually all just the hallucination of a deranged—and possibly nymphomaniac—vagrant. What’s clear, though, is a moral stance—a nice touch by LaBruce. A trucker killed in an accident, a conspirator double-crossed and shot in the back by his partner in crime, a troupe of gay S/M performers (or something like that) shot to death by vicious gangsters, are each killed unfairly and brought back to life by the L. A. Zombie. Whether it’s actually happening, or it’s just a part of a homeless man’s psychosis, this story is really about an angel delivering salvation. An angel in the gruesome, unrecognizable form of a devil. A sexy devil with tight buns and an enormous uncut schlong.

Society’s prejudices are too often based on image, and LaBruce carefully points this out, showing us a world that places such a benevolent force in the margins while allowing murderers and thieves to prosper. This homosexual wanderer isn’t a monster, nor is the man who refuses to buy into the system, to run in the rat race, to seek an edge over the next guy. The culture’s misfits aren’t losers. They don’t fit the cookie cutter mold, but they don’t want to. Since George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, zombies have continued to teach us things about ourselves, and even in the modest, slow-paced L.A. Zombie, there is a lesson to be had.