It is no secret that I am a fan of Zombie movies, so when this particular submission to the Latino Film Festival came across my desk I chomped at the bit and volunteered to review it. I have an ongoing theory that you can tell a lot about what’s going on in a certain culture based on their zombie films. For example, George Romero’s classic undeads Night of the Living Dead & Dawn of the Dead were scathing analyses of American race relations and Hyper-Consumerism. The 2009 French flick La Horde was a brutally violent insight into the state of how immigrants and foreigners are seen and treated in France. 2010’s Rammbock, Berlin Undead was a loose allegory and argument for German financial isolationism, and 2002’s 28 Days Later was a graphic warning of the rise of the political right in England. This film was my first experience with a Latino Zombie Movie. Before this, the closest I had gotten to one was watching a horribly dubbed version of Shawn of The Dead while living in Mexico.
Porto do Mortos starts in post zombie-apocalypse Brazil, with our gritty anti-hero, known simply as The Officer, on the search for a serial killer. No reason is given, but it is apparent that he is on the hunt for clues like a duty bound soldier who hasn’t been informed that the war was over and his side has lost.
In the opening scene, our hero enters a den of bad guys and simply kills everyone in the room, in order to retrieve a manila folder. Unlike most zombie films, the characters in this film seem to ignore the scattered groups of the walking dead unless they are provoked by them. The next scene finds our hero en route to a supply shed where he encounters two young people who have managed to survive and find love. The Officer takes them under his wing and teaches them how to shoot effectively, but not before stopping in an abandoned warehouse to gather more evidence of this serial killer. We find our group of survivors stumbling upon a bigger group of survivors living in an abandoned school. At the school they encounter the typical zombie movie survivors: the paternal figure, the recluse, and the pregnant woman. While venturing out, the officer and his two protégés encounter The Serial Killer aka The Dark Rider, a demonically possessed woman in a duster jacket with a gas mask, and her two devious henchmen.
In a twist, one of the most brutal scenes that I have ever seen involving a bow and arrow occurs. Flashbacks, serial killers, demons within, the undead, hunting, infections, torture, the world coming to an end, survivors, suicide, and crossbows. This zombie film is the real deal.
Porto dos Mortos was possibly the most brutally violent film that I have ever seen. An ominous post-apocalyptic undertone of hopelessness and dread is ever present, which is highlighted by the cinematography and color saturation of the entire film. This is not your typical zombie movie, or gore porn, or detective movie, it stands alone as a uniquely Brazilian twist on a handful of genres that we are all so familiar with. With a rich plot, brilliant cinematography, and a main character who somewhat resembles me after a long bender, I highly recommend that you see this film for yourself.