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(aka "Ultimate Zombie Feast" )

 

directed by 
USA/UK/Canada/Spain/France/Denmark/Netherlands/India 2010

 

Monster Pictures' ULTIMATE ZOMBIE FEAST is an uneven but interesting collection of international zombie shorts that most of us would probably not get to see otherwise.

The collection kicks off with Barend de Voogd and Rob van der Velden's ZOMBEER (2008) from the Netherlands. When tipsy brewmaster Herman topples into a vat of beer, he contaminates it and sets loose a zombie rampage. The short isn't as amusing as it would like to be, but it surprises by starting out modestly in boxed in locations with a handful of actors and extras before giving way under the ending credits to full-scale zombie siege (albeit captured on shaky cam). This indirectly gives a segue to the Rafa Martínez and Inaki San Román's Spanish ZOMBIES & CIGARETTES (2009) in which awkward teenage hero must work up the courage to tell a girl he likes her while they dodge fast-moving zombies that have invaded the mall where they work. Well-mounted with a lot of enthusiasm (and the badass character is nicely parodied here and gets just what he deserves for all of the posturing). From the UK comes Joseph Avery and Matt Simpson's more somber PLAGUE (2009) in which an Eastern European gun runner flees to the UK to start a new life only to arrive in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Not really as deeply philosophical as it would like to be, but good film festival fodder. Also from the UK comes Duncan Laing's BITTEN (2008), a brief but grim story of a woman slowly undergoing a zombie transformation. Is she paying for her sins?

Decidedly different in tone from the others thus far is the American ARISE (2010) from Jay Reiter, an unoriginal head-banging tale of a shop worker killing zombies (including his jerk of a boss). Also from America is Monica Winter Vigil's brief but moving NOT EVEN DEATH (2009) in which a husband holds his zombified wife prisoner in the basement and tries to get her to remember her human life while the outside world searches for a cure for the epidemic. Randy Smith and Craig Peach's FEAR OF THE LIVING DEAD (2009) - also American - starts off nice as we follow the ax-wielding seemingly lone female survivor of a zombie outbreak as she searches abandoned houses for food and supplies, but it stumbles when she meets another survivor. Once the editing and the camerawork settles down for exposition, the acting is awkward and the camera wobbles distractingly (not sure if this is for lack of a tripod or a half-hearted stab at the shakycam aesthetic). The zombie attacks are quaintly charming with what looks like zombiefied extras recruited from the suburban neighborhood setting, giving it the feel of a video rental-era regional horror flick.

The Canadian KIDZ (2010) from Bren Lynne features a band of child survivors of a zombie outbreak. It's played for laughs and seems like the kind of thing you'd find in the extras section of a Troma DVD (although the climactic bit with kids killing zombie kids probably would not go over well on this side of the border). Scott Kragelund, Paul Cranefield, and Erik Van Sant's THE BOOK OF ZOMBIE (2007) is the longest short on disc one at just over an hour. Also hailing from the states, it pits non-believers against Mormon hordes ("Don't apologize to Jesus, apologize to Darwin!"). It's not the most ambitious of the films on disc one, but the most entertaining.

Disc 2 kicks off with the Sat Johal, Tony Jopia, and John Payne's British ZOMBIE HARVEST (2003), in which an infected doctor on the run from the military "stumbles" onto a country farm. The tone veers from corny, scatological comedy to apocalyptic horror so jarringly that it could be two different shorts stuck together (see BLACK SHEEP instead). We're back to the states for Dan Gingold's THE SKIN OF YOUR TEETH (2009). This one's also set on a farm where survivors of yet another zombie epidemic are holding up while trying to arguing over whether to stick it out or move on. It starts out nicely, with some stark photography of atmospheric locations, but it too soon veers off into running zombie territory when it might have explored (possibly at feature length) the characters' feelings of isolation.

David M Reynolds' ZOMBLIES (2009) from the UK is the longest short on the second disc. A unit of DOG SOLDIERS/OUTPOST/DEATHWATCH-esque soldiers travels into the walled off portion of the UK overrun by zombies to rescue another unit that has disappeared while collecting samples and discover that the virus has mutated. Well-shot and edited, but sometimes amateurishly-acted, the film is a series of tiresome action setpieces (heavily relying on CGI gore) that plays more like a video game - including the scoring - or a demo reel than story. Tor Fruergaard's Danish IT CAME FROM THE WEST (2007) is not only a zombie western, it's acted by puppets. Tired of the Dark Butcher carving up their numbers, the Indians call up the dead to wreak vengeance. Meanwhile, bullied Virgil lives in his cowboy father Jack's shadow, but gets his chance to prove his manhood when zombies invade the local saloon. Not exactly a Sergio Leone hommage - despite the scope framing and the scoring - but funny, entertaining, and gory (and surprisingly not politically incorrect).

Gregory Morinhas' PARIS BY NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (2009) is another short that is more demo reel than narrative. A bride and groom get married and spend their honeymoon killing zombies (and blowing up Paris monuments). From India, we have Tarunabh Dutta's SAVAGES (2009), another of the longer shorts that is just as much EVIL DEAD and BLAIR WITCH PROJECT rip-off as it is a zombie film. Four teenagers travel up a mountain into a dead zone (ignoring the biohazard signs and the still-steaming canisters of toxic waste) and are never heard from again. Cheaply-made with gauzy digital video photography, the short's chief asset is its setting. The collection closes out with the British DEAD HUNGRY (2009) by William Bridges, an amusing short focusing on the romantic antics of two brain-hungry zombies (the few terrorized humans take shelter and can be overheard bickering and mucking up their siege situation offscreen). Not great, but a nice capper.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release:

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DVD Review: Monster Pictures/Eureka Video - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Monster Pictures/Eureka Video

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 5:16:41 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: ~7.0 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio English/French/Spanish/Dutch/Danish/Hindi Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English for foreign episodes (burnt-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Monster Pictures/Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• ZOMBEER (11:55), ZOMBIES & CIGARETTES (17:22), PLAGUE (16:46), BITTEN (6:10), ARISE (18:25),
• NOT EVEN DEATH (5:55), FEAR OF THE LIVING DEAD (16:26), KIDZ (9:31), and THE BOOK OF ZOMBIE (1:03:53)
• DISC TWO:
• ZOMBIE HARVEST (11:42), THE SKIN OF YOUR TEETH (14:32), ZOMBLIES (47:06), IT CAME FROM THE WEST
• (16:28), PARIS BY NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (12:03), SAVAGES (39:32), and DEAD HUNGRY (9:55)

DVD Release Date: 8 October 2012
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

Most of the shorts seem to have been shot in various digital video formats (a couple of the American ones have interlacing, softness, and motion artifacts suggesting NTSC-PAL conversions), so quality depends more on the individual productions' lighting, color grading, and other post-work. All audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (and I wonder if some are downmixed from 5.1 because some bits of dialogue in various shorts get drowned out by music, but that may just be the individual mixes). The English subtitles for the foreign shorts seem to have been part of their original source tapes, so spelling and grammatical errors that pop up are likely not the fault of the Monster Pictures (a sub-label of the dependable Eureka Video). There are absolutely no extras, but a third disc probably would have been required to contain any making-of material (and shorts should really stand on their own).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Monster Pictures/Eureka Video

Region 0 - PAL

 




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