★★★ out of ★★★★★
Do you want to see a Euro-trashy zombie film in a Balkan backwater black market plastic surgery center? This film is proof positive that not all European horror films are intense and artistic sociological statements. Sometimes you just want to let it rip. Yummy cuts it loose (for better and worse).
Directed by Lars Damoiseaux
Facelifts, Boob Jobs, and Zombies!Official Tagline for Yummy
So, there you see the appeal for Yummy. Promises of bloody mayhem and boobs. An age-old promise that lures many discerning (and not-so-discerning) video browsers to its sleazy siren call. And that includes me. Yummy is a horror-comedy that owes much to ’80s and ’90s fare like Return of the Living Dead and Dead Alive. Gleefully unsubtle, and by no means original, but joyously entertaining at times, this Belgian film gets its laughs with a well-timed spray of blood.
The plot is not particularly important, except as a way to put a whole bunch of people in peril. Our protagonists are a dating couple: the self-conscious Alison (Maaike Neuville) and her sweet but cowardly boyfriend Michael (Bart Hollanders), who are traveling to an underground chop-shop plastic surgery center somewhere in the Balkans. Alison is looking to get her massive breasts reduced, as they give her nothing but grief. Her sweet and sleazy mother, Sylvia (Annick Christiaens), also well endowed, is perplexed by her daughter’s desire to be less chesty, but goes along with the trip in order to get a tummy-tuck on the side.
The dubious hospital is run by the lecherous Dr. Krawczyk (Eric Gordon) and the lovely brains behind the operation, the ice queen like Janja (Clara Cleymans). Sylvia proclaims that Dr. Krawczyk is a genius and that his experimental procedures are a virtual fountain of youth. And, this hospital will keep your procedures a secret. Nothing to worry, about, right? Michael, a failed medical student because of his fear of blood, is unimpressed and highly concerned that for Alison’s breast reduction surgery, even the most fundamental procedures are not being employed. Michael smells a quack operation and wants to stop the procedure.
In order to calm Michael down, junkie orderly Daniel (Benjamin Ramon) volunteers to take Michael on a tour of the facility. In actuality, Daniel is scavenging narcotics for his habits, and this is a good excuse for him to enter an off-limits section of the hospital. While Daniel is trying to get his fix-on, Michael stumbles across a naked and distressed young woman strapped to a bed, with a mask on her face. She is a patient zero zombie, a freak experiment not to be seen. When Michael peels back her mask, it reveals a skeletal maw, and he panics and runs. The zombie chews off its bindings and escapes… and then the movie enters classic zombie pandemic mode.
These zombies are classic Romero/Savini style zombies, and the make up department loved to use big ropey intestines to great effect. There are some truly gruesome ghouls, particularly a legless female zombie who shows surprising agility and spunk for one who needs to propel herself with her arms. The movie really stops making sense at this point but becomes a showcase for fun and gory set-pieces. The movie is populated with plenty of supporting characters to provide zombie fodder, and the epidemic spreads preposterously fast. It’s the classic infected bite/infected blood splash that spreads the plague. The movie does pick and choose when it wants to follow the rules, and the plot has a tendency to telegraph the next move. It is predictable, but the payoffs are often worth it.
And this movie enthusiastically goes low brow including:
- A liposuction reversal explosion.
- A man who got a penis enlargement surgery, only to be denied what he just received in spectacular fashion.
- A paper shredder incident.
- A bait and switch cunnilingus/zombie fakeout.
- Animated pickled fetus creatures.
- Michael is prone to vomiting. (Great vomit effects)
- Intestines used as ropes.
Sound fun? Well, it is, if you have the stomach for such things. The acting is… not awful. Not great, but better than you would expect for an exploitation film like this. The same goes for the dialogue. Again… think Return of the Living Dead or Night of the Demons. The leads are sympathetic, but we don’t get much beyond the surface information about them. Nevertheless, they are easy to root for. But depth of character is not why you would be renting this film, right? The prosthetic work here is pretty good, up to and including Neuville’s size F’s. They’re not real, and not in the silicone implant way… I suspect it’s a padded bra. Surprisingly, for a movie that announces that there will be boobs, you don’t see a whole lot of them here. There’s lots of talk about boobs, but not much baring of them. That MacGuffin is just fine. Yummy keeps it just this side of being barely tasteful.
There is a terrific homage to the Night of the Living Dead at the end of the film. You can see it building up, and again, like the other elements of the film that signal what the next scene will be, pays off in a grim and wryly cynical conclusion.
There has been a long history of trashy horror from the Giallo of the ’80s, but for the most part, European horror has been identified with smart, intense horrors: films of French New Extremism like Martyrs, Haute Tension, and A l’Inteurieur or slow burn Art-House Indie features like Goodnight Mommy, Raw, Blue my Mind, and Cold Hell. Yummy is proof positive that Europe can make light and fun horror too.
Yummy is not rated, and it would be a hard R for sure. It might push for an NC-17 level, but the attitude is light, and though there is plenty of gore, it never strays into the hard-to-watch level of intensity. This movie is available on Amazon Prime. The movie is mostly in English, but there is some Flemish spoken (subtitled) and a fake Balkan language (Balkanese) was made up for this movie.