Night of the Living Dorks

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 03/09/07 19:57:23

"The jokes are as dead as the characters."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

So there’s this movie, and it’s a German teen sex comedy/zombie horror spoof, and you’re absolutely right, those seven words together in that order are bound to make with the not funny.

The film in question is being released Stateside as “Night of the Living Dorks,” which seems like a lame lost-in-translation title until you discover that the original German name works out to pretty much the same thing. Those dorks are stoner Wurst (Manuel Cortez), four-eyed Konrad (Thomas Schmieder), and Philip (Tino Mewes), our everyday hero of sorts. Philip pines for the hottest girl in school, while ignoring his former best friend-turned-goth chick Rebecca (Collien Fernandes). The geeks team up with Rebecca’s goth freak pals to try a voodoo ritual; nothing happens, until the nerds die in a car crash, only to pop back to life as indestructible zombies.

Ignoring for a moment any comparisons to the mildly amusing 1993 teen zombie comedy “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Living Dorks” gets by for a while on a decent amount of originality and charm - the leads all make likable losers, and their jokey foray into the occult has some delightfully silly moments (instead of a live chicken, a frozen one from the supermarket will suffice).

But then it becomes depressingly clear that writer/director Mathias Dinter has no intentions of satirizing either the teen sex or zombie horror genres. By combining the two, Dinter has nothing of interest to say - he merely smushes them together clumsily, resulting in a pale retread of both, hoping that the dick and fart jokes will be enough.

They are not. The idea has potential, especially as the trio begin using their zombie powers to fight back against school bullies, or as side characters make reference to the boys’ new “heroin look,” or as the goth kids accidentally draw a Star of David instead of a pentagram. Then the script loses focus: Konrad develops x-ray vision (?), Philip throws a super-cool party, tired drug jokes land left and right. Philip gets stuck in that age-old plot device, that of the uncool kid scoring with the popular chick to the dismay of the nice girl he’ll wind up with by the closing credits. And then, oh my, we get tossed one too many montages of things happening at high speed (cleaning the house before the parents come home montage!) while a hip punk-pop tune blares on the soundtrack.

Worse, oh my again, the comedy goes for the gross-out all too quickly. Taking a cue from the disturbingly unfunny Jake Busey clunker “Tomcats,” we get to watch as one character’s testicle rolls across the room in supposed hilarity. Later, as a buddy tries to reattach the genitals (with staples - the first staple-on-a-body-part gag was clever; the seventeenth was weak), the whole affair is mistaken by others as gay oral sex, which the boys frantically attempt to deny, and let’s face it, this is the final sign that the screenwriter has completely run out of ideas.

“Living Dorks” disappoints because for a while, there’s so much potential and manic charm to the proceedings that we overlook the faults. But then the charm falls off and the faults stack up, and soon we’re left with an obnoxious sex romp that knows just enough about the teen comedy genre to mimic it but not enough to make it worth revisiting, even with this zombie twist.

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