It all started when I heard from Jade Castro himself in a screening of the film. According to him, he was inspired by the film AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (by John Landis, 1981) where a “man is being transformed into something he’s not”. Remington is indeed a young man “cursed” into homosexuality (from a mental illness, now a curse!) and only the power of a straight father who has not bed a single twink can save him. I get the picture, but when you realize he’s likening a live human being (a label gay activists have been fighting for decades to be treated as) to a monster is something else. Well I get it - monsters and gays are both considered “other” in a clean-cut patriarchal society. FRANKENSTEIN, Ricky Lee’s AMAPOLA... it’s all over popular culture. But do we really have to repeat that notion and translate it into a film that is very unsubtle yet also problematic about the whole gay issue?
Enter the case of camp. As he said so in interviews, Castro intended ZOMBADINGS to be camp. There was Roland Tolentino’s review of the film that questioned this. He says here
Hindi pwedeng magsimula ang isang proyekto na maging camp. Kailangan itong maging resulta o in hindsight na persepsyon. Hindi ako lalabas ng bahay bilang stereotipong parloristang bading dahil hindi ito magreresulta sa “dobleng camp.” Mananamit ako, at dahil labis ang pabalat na ukay-ukay o high fashion, halimbawa, maari akong maging camp.
Ang Zombadings ay mulat na camp, ito ay campy pero hindi camp. Ang nangyari sa pagpapatingkad ng proyektong maging camp ay negation ng camp. Walang irony o disjuncture sa dalawang pinagtatapat na mundo dahil naglapat ang pagpapatawa (intensyonalidad at resultang primaryo sa box-office) sa object ng pagpapatawa (ang kabadingan). (2011)
He ends the review by stating that ZOMBADINGS only reinforced stereotypes. Remington was a mere reinforcement of the “screaming faggot” stereotype that must be abolished in the straight man’s way. “Nag-kwento lang, at nag-reaffirm ng kwento”. It has pandered to a serious issue for some beef and ended up laughing at it.
From what I know, the best camp films didn’t initially intend themselves to be camp, because the label’s supposed to be what a film is avoiding – to become a joke. Yet the praise the previous camp films had influenced the Aughts in a way. It made a new generation of filmmakers go for the lessons of the past and imitate a trend, try to recreate an effect that would score an audience. Yes of course, it had its moments of pure gay eye and ear candy. Yet upon having all these bloated ideas exploding, the advocacy turned out to be lip service. You can ask the film itself – are you or aren’t you?
ZOMBADINGS is at times celebratory yet at times still brutally homophobic, and it ends up where it started – gays are still sissies looked at as a joke. It’s very problematic and unaware of what it stands for. The kid in the last scene says it all. He sees a golden gay walking on the street. The kid stops and points at him, telling his mom “Bakla, oh”. Just when you thought a negative remark would be blurted out, he immediately praises him with a face utterly forced to say “Ang gandaaa”. Would that be a sign of change? As Tolentino said, it is indeed still a big box of a film entrapping homosexuals into traits and keeping them there. The makers of ZOMBADINGS only made it taste so sweet. - Gio Potes, September 2012
Tolentino, R. (2011). Mulat na camp at kawalan ng irony. Retrieved July 11, 2012 from http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2011/10/mulat-na-camp-at-kawalan-ng-irony/