Zombie culture – and, of course, zombie movies – are an international phenomenon, but sometimes we’re still surprised at just how international. Korea, Japan, France, Australia – yeah, yeah sure sure. But now – and not for the first time – we see New Zealand weighing in (almost literally) with a hefty new film, The Last Samoan Zombie, written and produced in New Zealand with a strong emphasis on a Polynesian story and cast.
We don’t know much about it beyond a press release and a few random TikTok videos. Except that it involved a rugby team that runs up against what looks like classic slow zombies (and becomes them? Maybe?), and that it doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously – always a good sign. It will premiere December 20, it says here, though we’re not sure where.
But it did bring to mind another often overlooked TV series from New Zealand, The Dead Lands. It snuck in under the radar in 2020, and it’s thankfully still available for $1.99 an episode on Amazon Prime. The series – beautiful to look at, intense, exuberant, and gory as hell – is set in ancient New Zealand and the indigenous tribe that is struggling with a sudden and deadly incursion of the risen dead – leaders and warriors of their own tribe – who have returned to destroy them. There’s tribal and family politics, a forbidden love story, and some of the most sweaty and muscular action you’ll see in zombie films this side of a good wrestling match, but sadly it never got past one season and is widely unnoticed even now.
It’s good to see another entry from the Kiwis, but you could do far worse than spend a day binge-watching The Dead Lands before The Last Samoan Zombie shows up