Back in the mid to late 90s, before the internet made looking up and watching just about any movie that ever existed an instantaneous endeavor, it was pretty difficult to stumble upon a movie like Chopper Chicks in Zombietown. The local Blockbuster video most likely held no Troma titles to speak of and if you were lucky enough to have an independent video store nearby with a well-stocked collection of cult horror and foreign flicks, you likely wouldn’t be able to rent R or X rated titles without someone over 18 in tow. Being under 18 in those days was a huge, almost insurmountable obstacle blocking most kids from ever seeing more than a handful of movies containing any kind of gore or boobs or just general awesome weirdness whatsoever. You’d have to rely on having a buddy with an older, horror-obsessed sibling or be lucky enough to have someone like my Mom as your parent.
My Mom wasn’t the type of parent out to intentionally corrupt their kid by providing them with adult content and unlimited ice cream. She just knew that I loved movies, preferred cookies & cream and wanted to make me happy. There was no cool indie rental place in our town, but for some odd reason, the local CVS had this tiny VHS rental area that constantly restocked itself with not only the hits of the day, but with lots of weird, low budget and foreign films. It was also right next to the ice cream section! My Mother would go and just grab a couple tapes for me each week, something popular like Babe or The Sandlot and then a couple that she didn’t recognize from the previous week. This is how I’d wind up seeing stuff like Evil Dead 2 or Reservoir Dogs or even an obscure gem called Chopper Chicks in Zombietown while I was a freshman in High School.
Why is Chopper Chicks in Zombietown fairly obscure? Not because of something exciting, like the company that made the VHS tapes exploded so there’s only a couple hundred copies that ever existed. Not because of something that probably true, like Billy Bob Thornton was so embarrassed by his first on screen role that he bought the rights to the movie and tried to bury it. No, it’s obscure because folks, even die hard Troma fans, generally do not like the movie. There isn’t much of a budget for gore, no creative kills, no boobs or lesbians and barely more than g-rated sex. I’m not sure why the lack of those things turns people off so much, because what is there is so gloriously weird and interesting.
Here’s a couple of great things in this movie I’ll just rattle off the top of my head:
- The zombies have their own theme song, and it isn’t like a Jaws-esque horror theme to let you know trouble is coming before you’ve even seen the monster. It’s more like circus clown music or an absurd march
- The first kill in the movie is a little kid eaten by zombies while looking for his Dad
- The Chopper Chicks, well, in the movie their gangs name is actually the “Cycle Sluts” wind up protecting a busload of blind orphans from the zombie threat. At one point in the beginning of the movie, one of the orphans refers to the group as, “bump-reading bastards”
- The main villain in the movie reveals he didn’t reanimate the dead to work as slaves for the money, he did it because he’s just a mean guy. He’s also played by Earl Bowen, who you probably know best as the guy in T2 whose cigarette drops out of his mouth in this gif:
The main reason folks don’t enjoy this movie as much as they ought to is most likely to do with the expectations of genre. It isn’t unreasonable to assume from the title and the Troma name attached to expect a schlocky horror gore-fest with boobs. The movie isn’t that at all, I’d say it’s a straight ahead comedy set in the world of a trashy horror film. There’s an earnest quality to it that’s shared by all the best cult movies.
Mark Englert is an American artist living in Poland with his wife and kids. You can find his prints on his site, Taco Belvedere.