Say hello to The Sadness from Taiwan, screening now as part of the Fantasia Fest and which goshdarnit found a way. And then some. And it will maybe make you regret even asking the question! I say that with no small amount of awe -- I was really quite struck dumb by The Sadness, and am not sure how to even write about it. Fantasia slapped a trigger warning on this sucker and it's with plenty good reason -- I don't recommend anybody with a sensitive constitution sit through this gnarly and deeply cruel fiend of a movie. Me, I am not that person, I took this sucker in stride, but man alive (or rather, I suppose, man not alive) did I have to turn away a couple of times.
Yes, you heard me right -- these zombies rape. Is that a spoiler I shouldn't share? I don't know how you don't warn people of that fact going in, ethically speaking. Anyway science makes these zombies subject to their every every worst urge, total cruelty, totally unleashed -- a pandemic of bloody perversions. Sex and violence swirl in a storm of gore and mayhem, each trauma trying to top the one before -- and by "top" yes I do mean "stick its zombie dick into" -- and yet somehow Canadian-Taiwanese writer-director Rob Jabbaz, and I can't believe I am saying this, actually makes it work?
I've seen a lot of go-for-broke gonzo try-too-hard horror flicks anyway -- hell there's probably a Lloyd Kaufman Joint that had Raping Zombies in it 15 years ago -- but The Sadness, as hard as it pushes its in-your-eye-socket offensiveness, well it just comes down to the fact that is well made, well shot, competently acted (by some really gorgeous leads, I might add), and effectively edited most of all. There are some terrifying sequences (one on a subway train is one of my worst nightmares), even ones without sexual violence.
But the thing is the scenes with the sexual violence actually feel justified by the world we live in, and we should be more angry at the world we live in for that then for this film reflecting where we've come as a culture. In the 1970s Romero was able to use the idea of the zombie to mock our Consumer Culture -- well some forty plus years later our culture is less concerned with our right to bear large-screen television sets, and more concerned with our right to be as free as we want to be at the expense of everyone else being damned. And the sexual anxiety of our times -- even just writing about this movie! -- is off the charts. I think The Sadness tapping into that, even in its over-the-top way, is meaningful and necessary -- it's Horror's job to wade into our muck and throw it in our face, and you'll leave The Sadness one hundred percent mucked up.