Writer and director Mathias Dinter’s Night of the Living Dorks may be a German flick, but it may have more familiarity with American audiences than its native youth. In an international boom of horror genre parodies since the success of the U.K.’s Shaun of the Dead, this just feels more like a teen sex comedy than an offbeat zombie flick.
Phillip (Tino Mewes) and his two friends, Wurst and Konrad (Samuel Cortez and Thomas Schmieder), are the unpopular kids in their school, constantly picked on by the elite, upper-class students. After witnessing a voodoo ritual in a cemetery performed by Phillip’s next-door neighbor Rebecca (Collien Fernandes), the trio crashes their car while under the influence of marijuana. This, of course, turns them into zombies, and they have to figure out a way to fix their condition while at the same time taking revenge on those that have wronged them.
While Night of the Living Dorks is a self-proclaimed zombie spoof, it plays as more of an American sex teen comedy than anything. The conventional characters of the teen flick are there: the girl next door, the popular girl that the protagonist pines after, the upper-class jock nemesis, the wise-cracking sidekick, the parents leaving the house in their son’s care, etc. A Revenge of the Nerds-type influence on the plot is more than obvious. Besides being an essentially bloodless movie, it does little to poke fun at zombie films. In fact, the “zombie” as we know it actually very skewed here, as there is apparently an antidote to reverse it, and those unlucky ones turned into zombies can live among humans. All they have to do is eat a lot of raw meat, raid a blood bank, and learn to suppress the urge to bite an ass or two.
Night of the Living Dorks isn’t all that bad, however. Even though it’s just like every other National Lampoon teen sex romp we’ve seen before, it’s actually funny. Instead of focusing on making as many references to teen culture as possible, it’s just flat-out silly and entertaining, with the dialogue being consistently perverted and goofy. The biggest flaw is the fact that Night of the Living Dorks seems too American. A German flick that makes references to Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Casablanca really doesn’t come off as too German to me.
If you’re looking for a formulaic yet goofy and entertaining time, then Night of the Living Dorks is for you. But if you enjoy foreign films and/or horror genre spoofs, this most likely won’t be your cup of tea.
Jose is an English major at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In January 2009, he will begin writing film reviews for the campus newspaper, the Student Voice.
Read A.J. Hakari’s Night of the Living Dorks review here.