When a malfunctioning artificial snow machine unleashes a plague of zombies on a mountaintop ski resort in the Alps, it's up to a professional snowboarder, his frustrated girlfriend, and an ageing barmaid to exterminate the ravenous flesh-eaters, and stop the scourge from spreading.
First thing first: There are no "lederhosen zombies" in Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies. Rather, most of them simply wear sensible cold-climate clothes such as thick sweaters and hearty coats. So if you're coming into this one expecting hordes of gut-munchers on Bavarian leather breeches, you're bound for disappointment.
Now that we've got that out of the way...
The second feature from Austrian director Dominik Hartl, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies eschews the romantic drama of his 2015 debut Beautiful Girl to deliver this upbeat horror comedy that's neither frightening nor particularly funny. Even so, it's hard to dismiss this gruesome little romp outright; despite the obvious budgetary limitations and awkward results of having a multi-national cast deliver their dialogue primarily in English, Hartl does manage to keep the energy high while impressing with some colorful production design, comic-book style, and over-the top gore.
Trouble is… well, basically everything else. Despite the obvious influence of post-Romero zombie films that succeeded by tweaking and updating the formula established back in 1968 (Dead Alive and Shaun of the Dead in particular), Hartl and co-screenwriter Armin Prediger play things decidedly safe by essentially plugging that tried-and-true that template into their snowbound setting. As a result, Attack of the Lederhosen zombies feels too familiar to feel like anything other than a tired retread of virtually everything that's come before it.
From the survivors' initial attempts at barricading themselves in the lodge, to their desperate search for an escape vehicle, and the antagonist whose instinct for self-preservation only manages to make things worse, the familiar tropes and archetypes are all in full effect here. In fairness, Hartl and Prediger take just enough liberties with the rules of the zombies themselves to keep us wondering exactly how these blistery ghouls can be dispatched. Add some snowboard slaughter into the mix and Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies at least becomes a passable distraction for zombie completists -- especially considering its modest 77-minute running time.
The performances, however, are a decidedly mixed bag. Though her line delivery early on borders on laughable, leading lady Gabriela Marcinkova eventually comes into her own as kick-ass heroine Branka, who's hair trigger temper gives her a distinct advantage over barroom creepers and chemical-infected zombies alike. Like her, English appears to be a second language to much of the cast, resulting in some seriously stilted dialogue from virtually everyone involved. Still, leading man Laurie Calvert remains largely convincing as the snowboarder who could learn to take things a bit more seriously, and Margarete Tiesel approaches her role as the besieged barmaid with genuine gusto.
|Pardon me, where's the set of Dead Snow 3?|
If only the same could be said for the filmmakers, whose limp third-act attempts to echo the over-the-top gore that helped launch Peter Jackson to the Shire and beyond feel hampered and half-hearted. So while die-hard horror geeks may appreciate such stylistic flourishes as composer Paul Gallister's retro-minded use of synths and some colorful cinematography courtesy of Xiaosu Han and Andreas Thalhammer, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies simply lacks the bite needed to surpass its predecessors, or advance the sub-genre.
Pass on the lederhosen.