Israel’s First Zombie Movie
Anytime an Israel Defense Force special unit goes on a special mission to Lebanon, the people in it expect trouble. However, no one could have expected this. Since you have read the title of this review, you know that there will be zombies. However there is a bit more. Director Eitan Gafny also gives us a political commentary. I also learned that 40 gallons of fake blood was used in the making of this film.
Once in Lebanon, the special forces form an alliance with the daughter of a leader of Hezbollah to dispose of the zombies in the country. Doron Geva, one of the operatives, claims that this will be his last mission but he also discovers that Hezbollah is not Israel’s only enemy. This is to be an extensive attack with an enemy that is bloodthirsty. He realizes that the enemy has changed its face and now he and his men must fight a new war and also to find an antidote and get back to Israel before the entire Middle East is covered with blood.
The film criticizes the Israeli military and blames it for creating the chemical weapon that has turned Arabs into zombies. The film shows that the military and the country itself are responsible for the mistreatment of Arabs. There is a lot of satire and poking fun at Israeli machismo. It also looks at the tensions between the religious and secular Jews; it exposes racism in the treatment of Ethiopian Jews and shows economic discrimination against Russian Jews. It even goes so far as to say that past sins that are responsible for the current zombie plague.
Director Gafny was obviously inspired by George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” but he goes a step further and combines science fiction with action. The idea of introducing an exclusive army unit with a new enemy is the concept of the film. The zombies are not a metaphor for either side—they represent something much bigger than ideology. “They represent hope in a way, and the story is constructed in a way that helps that idea. Cannon Fodder is not just about people fighting zombies. It’s about people from different sides of the conflict having to work together and put aside their political differences to ensure a better tomorrow. Other than that, I’ll leave interpretation to the viewers, but I can tell you that from what we’ve seen so far, every viewer takes the meaning of the zombies in our film to his direction, and that’s what I love about the film. It’s open to any interpretation, if that’s your cup of blood. If you choose to analyze the metaphor, you can go either way with it.”
Zombie films are durable and they always get viewers but I never thought about a zombie film from Israel. An elite military team is lied to by superiors, sent on a phony mission that promises to be a cake walk, only to discover an unexpected zombie outbreak. This is quite the way to start a film.
The zombies represent people who have lived with generations of war, terrorism, and failed political policies. This not about people fighting zombies. It’s about people from different sides of the conflict having to work together and put aside their political differences, to insure a better tomorrow.
There is a lot of social comment in the film because Gafney says, “All good zombie films have a social commentary in them, and I really wanted this to be more than just another zombie film – otherwise, what’s the point, right? In addition, it was important to me that if I’m making a zombie film, it should be rooted in contemporary Israel, and the characters should represent different aspects of Israeli society – again, like in Romero’s films, for instance. So yes, it was a conscious effort.
There is even a bit of camp—“one of the brave Israeli he-men looks at the creature’s exposed entrails and says, “Looks like kishke. Cholent for Shabbat.”