It’s hard to watch a movie like Spring Break Zombie Massacre and not walk away feeling uplifted an hour later. It’s not that the film is a technical marvel, or one that creates elaborate and groundbreaking special effects. Story wise, it doesn’t cover any new ground when it comes to the saturated zombie subgenre. What Spring Break has going for it is one hell of a feel-good back story from a pair of young, intrepid filmmakers that were determined to not let an disability hold them back from their dream of making a movie.
Sam and Mattie are the stars and writing team behind Spring Break Zombie Massacre. They’re also two young men in their early twenties that both have Down’s Syndrome. The duo have been friends for over a decade, after meeting in school. As Sam tells it, he came up with the idea for the movie one day while daydreaming in class. He approached Mattie with his idea, and the two began writing and storyboarding the basic concept of the film. The two enlisted family friend Bobby Carnevale to direct, with Peter Farrelly lending a hand with some script touch ups.
The resulting film comes in at close to an hour long, and it packs in a lot of laughs and a ton of heart. Yeah, it can be a bit silly at times. For example, a week later I’m still scratching my head a bit trying to figure out why Satan has such an obsession with peeing on everything.
Sam and Mattie star in the film as brothers who have the power to save the save the world through “bionics.” While I’m not 100% sure what that means, just run with it. Their mothers are by Satan after giving birth, and the devil returns on the eve of their prom to finish the boys off one and for all. The movie becomes Sam & Mattie’s take on 80’s action films, with zombies getting blasted in half by shotguns, hand to hand combat with the devil, the two stars getting all the girls and yes, even extended montage sequences.
While not every joke lands, the film is warm and funny and beneath the ridiculous premise there’s a solid pair of messages that come out against bullying and buds sticking together no matter what. Mostly, I’m happy that these two guys had a dream, and what could have been some huge obstacles in their way, and they decided that didn’t matter, they were going to make a movie together no matter what. There’s some genuine oddball sequences in the film, and more than its fair share of laugh out loud sight gags and jokes.
Telluride Horror Show offered Spring Break Zombie Massacre its first chance to play an official festival, though there have been a number of one off special screenings. The Rhode Island natives are looking to travel and take the film on the road with them while securing official distribution. Here’s hoping someone steps up and makes this film available for everyone to see. As someone who works everyday with adults that have developmental disabilities, I see firsthand how persons like Sam and Mattie too often go unheard or are told there’s too much they can’t do. Spring Break Zombie Massacre serves as a great reminder that anyone can achieve the things they love if they put enough sweat into it and get the helping hands that are sometimes needed.
Look, we can all agree that too often the world is a horrible, awful place. We’re currently mired six years in a presidential election that will never end where one side has tapped in to everyone’s inner Hitler and now jagoffs are attacking the internet and I can’t stream Black Mirror. Every now and then we need an inspirational, feel good story, and Sam and Matt have provided one in spades.