Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies gets us into the heart of the matter almost immediately, creating successful moments of suspense, alternating with deliberately demential scenes. A humour, this one, that is good for the spirit, never excessive or unnecessary and that also reveals a great love for the seventh art.
Young director Dominik Hartl has never hidden his wild passion for horror films. And if, in fact, in 2015, the filmmaker finally decided to make films with his debut feature, Beautiful Girl, dealing with the coming-of-age genre, then the following year he finally began to follow his true vocation with the making of Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (original title: “Angriff der Llederhosenzombies”), an enjoyable zombie-movie entirely made in Austria, as citationist as it gets, but also very personal for the director, who, in turn, did not hesitate to also include a welcome touch of (black) humour.
So we find ourselves in the mountains of Tyrol. Following global warming, businessman Franz Steiner (Karl Fischer) has experimented with a new way of creating artificial snow using a mysterious yellow-green substance. During a demonstration, however, this substance accidentally leaks from the machinery and ends up on a potential investor. The man immediately begins to feel ill, to the point of turning into a zombie during an end-of-season party held that evening. Between drunk young people and dancing guests in typical Tyrolean costumes – including, precisely, Lederhosen – the zombie epidemic soon becomes unmanageable. It will be the task of three youngsters who have come to the place for a snowboarding competition and an energetic local innkeeper (a particularly good Margarethe Tiesel) to deal with the enormous host of living dead. Will our heroes make it?
This, until the end, we cannot know. The fact is that Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies almost immediately gets us into the heart of the matter, creating successful moments of suspense, alternating with deliberately demential scenes. A humour, this one, that is good for the spirit, never excessive or unnecessary and that also reveals a great love for the seventh art and for one of the most popular genres among young people (and not only).
If, in fact, a mysterious cousin of one of the athletes involved in the ‘war’ swears on the phone that he knows perfectly well how to exterminate his enemies, even though their deaths vary, in reality, according to the films in which they are featured, we immediately find ourselves involved in a dance that is reminiscent of the Ländler danced by Maria and Captain von Trapp in the unforgettable The Sound of Music.
Yes, because, in fact, the notes of Austrian folk dances accompany us for almost the entire film. And if a simple mobile phone ringtone intoning Strauss’s The Blue Danube makes the young protagonists realise that, in reality, the much-feared zombies are able to quieten themselves simply by listening to music, then the same theme serves as an excellent counterpoint to an enjoyable and bloody splatter scene, with severed heads and guts slipping out of tortured bodies.
And Dominik Hartl, for his part, proved to be more than amused in shooting this first, successful horror film. Although the director has always been fascinated by a mise-en-scène that often recalls a mainstream, US-style directorial approach, in this Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies he has managed to give everything a personal touch. And not only because of the settings in Austria or the numerous references to local folk traditions.
The end result is a precious little gem for fans of the genre, making for a good hour and a half (or a little less) of hearty laughter and splatter scenes. And we like it. And even – going back in our minds to Party hard die young, Dominik Hartl’s newest feature, made in 2018 – we think that perhaps the young director is even more at ease with nice zombies than with the slasher genre. Especially if the aforementioned zombies suddenly surprise us by dancing dangling to the notes of a Strauss waltz.
Original title: Angriff der Lederhosenzombies
Directed by: Dominik Hartl
Country/year: Austria / 2016
Running time: 78’
Genre: horror, comedy
Cast: Laurie Calvert, Gabriela Marcinkova, Oscar Dyekjaer Giese, Margarete Tiesel, Karl Fischer, Kari Rakkola, Martin Loos, Patricia Aulitzky, Martina Schölzhorn, Julia Stipsits, Christian Roupec, Christian Schiesser, Walter Spanny
Screenplay: Armin Prediger, Dominik Hartl
Cinematography: Xiaosu Han, Andreas Thalhammer
Produced by: FilmVergnuegen, Fischer Film