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The Andrew Parkinson Trilogy

 

I, Zombie (1998)        Dead Creatures (2001)     Venus Drowning (2006)

 


 

Billed by its American distributor as "The Andrew Parkinson Trilogy" - although only tenuously related and only sold separately - the first two films I, ZOMBIE: THE CHRONICLES OF PAIN and DEAD CREATURES are considered zombie films, but they're more the "talking dead" than the "walking dead"; and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I, ZOMBIE appropriately focuses on the experiences of a thinking man taken over by baser instincts, while DEAD CREATURES looks at the ways in which these sentient undead subsist in groups and alone. There are no sexy or badass zombies; they all feel revulsion for what they must do yet they want to survive. They rely on memories and sensory experiences to feel human, even as their subconscious reshapes those experiences into nightmares. The protagonist of I, ZOMBIE is PhD student Mark (Giles Aspen), disorganized, forgetful, and unreliable; particularly when it comes to his relationship with working girlfriend Sarah (Ellen Softley). His life unexpectedly gains structure and focus, however, when he is bitten by a diseased stranger while he is collecting samples in the countryside. Discovering an insatiable taste for human flesh – and painful withdrawal symptoms when he goes without – Mark goes into hiding, taking a rundown flat near the train station and preying on pedestrians for food and the cash to pay the rent and both medically and cosmetically treat the growing sores and lesions on his necrotizing body. He finds himself longing for Sarah – who has finally moved on in the eight months that he has been missing (the consensus seems to be that his disappearance was voluntary) – but is his hunger stronger than his desires? But for a few concessions to the splatterpunk audience, I, ZOMBIE is appropriately somber as it also depicts a thinking man mourning for a procrastinated life ultimately not lived. The titular DEAD CREATURES are those that survived attacks from others like themselves with only a bite or two rather than the total evisceration, dismemberment, and disposal of their communal meals. Cousins Zoe (Fiona Carr) and Ann (Antonia Beamish, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE) move from one rundown tenement to another with invalid Allison (Lindsay Clarke) – who is deteriorating physically and mentally at a rapid rate – in order to dodge zombie hunter Reece (Brendan Gregory, LITTLE DEATHS) who is not above using torture and even more gruesome methods of dispatching the undead while trying to track down a missing girl. New to the group is Sian (Anna Swift) – a student courted and then bitten by charming Christian (Bart Ruspoli, DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND) – and her revulsion at her new cravings and desire to return to her old life may expose the entire network of the undead Reece and others who would harm them. More so than I, ZOMBIE, one could read into DEAD CREATURES the existential anxieties of the AIDS age as some of the infected try to support one another in groups while others find it easier (or at least they say so) to contend with their existence without friends. The most recent film VENUS DROWNING is a departure from his undead films towards surreal psychodrama. Having attempted suicide after her miscarriage and the death of her fiancÚ from cancer, Dawn (Jodie Jameson, TAINTED LOVE) travels to her parents' closed seaside hotel for peace and quiet. Recent trauma and childhood memories run together in her dreams leaving Dawn in a daze during which she finds an amorphous, vaguely fetal lifeform on the beach with which she forms a dependent quasi-parental/sexual bond as it feeds off of her sexual encounters and she feeds off its endorphin-boosting secretions until one of them starts to tip the balance. DEAD CREATURE'sBart Ruspoli plays the normal guy Dawn falls for while Brendan Gregory appears as Dawn's psychiatrist, and I, ZOMBIE's Ellen Softley has a small role as Dawn's boss. Not particularly Lovecraftian or as Cronenbergian or Zulawskian (circa POSSESSION) as the scenario suggests, Parkinson's most stylistically and technically assured film VENUS DROWNINGcould charitably be called a mood-piece but it feels like an overlong short with provocative ideas. Since Parkinson has thus far only directed three features, it's not exactly fare to judge the three films as a thematic "trilogy"; but those who have seen at least one of these films (I, ZOMBIE and DEAD CREATURES have been released before stateside on VHS and DVD) can be assured of a certain continuity of style and tone.

 


 

(aka "I Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain" )

 

directed by Andrew Parkinson
UK 1998

Theatrical Release: 18 February 2014 (USA)

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DVD Review: Jinga Films/MVD Visual - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Jinga Films/MVD Visual

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:22:51
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.16 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Jinga Films/MVD Visual

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Andrew Parkinson, actor Giles Aspen, and sound recordist Tudor Davies
• Making-of (4:3; 7:11)
• Deleted Scenes (4:3; 1:27 + 3:56 + 2:45)
• Trailer (4:3; 1:11)

DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2014
Amaray

Chapters 10
 

 

 

 

Comments

Previously released by MTI Home Video (HERE) - as part of their short-lived collaboration with Fangoria magazine - I, ZOMBIE is presented here in an anamorphic widescreen transfer; the cropping of which does not impede the original 16mm gauge cinematography (we do not have specs for the Fangoria edition). The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is not strong on sound design (apart from the nightmare scenes), but the balance of the music and dialogue (including voiceovers) is fine.

The commentary features director Andrew Parkinson, actor Giles Aspen, and sound recordist Tudor Davies discussing the particulars of the four year shoot. There are some self-deprecating laughs and some of discomfort, but it's a generally sober track that covers all the bases and might be quite informative for indie filmmakers now (even if they don't have to worry about filmstock limitations and camera noise). A brief making-of segment focuses on the effects and the shooting of a nightmare sequence as well as discussing the film's guerilla shooting, including grabbing shots in favorite Hammer location Black Park without the knowledge of the police (most interesting is Parkinson's remark about how you tell when a non-professional you're trying to recruit to work on the film is the right choice). Three deleted scenes are uninteresting extensions and slight variations on scenes present in the film. A trailer for the film rounds out the extras. The disc is billed as the first of the "Andrew Parkinson Trilogy" which also includes DEAD CREATURES and VENUS RISING also available from Jinga Films (but only sold separately).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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Distribution

Jinga Films/MVD Visual

Region 0 - NTSC

 


 

 

directed by Andrew Parkinson
USA 2001

Theatrical Release: 25 September 2001 (USA)

Reviews                                               More Reviews                                             DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Jinga Films / MVD Visual - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Jinga Films / MVD Visual

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:32:09
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.2 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Jinga Films / MVD Visual

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by writer/director Andrew Parkinson, dubbing mixer Tudor Davies, and director of photography Jason Shepherd
• Making-of (4:3; 20:48)
• World Premiere (4:3; 14:29)
• Outtakes (4:3; 8:31)
• Trailer (4:3; 1:14)

DVD Release Date: 18 February 2014
Amaray

Chapters 10
 

 

 

 

Comments

Shot principally on Aaton and Arri 35mm cameras - with only the first day's scenes shot on 16mm - DEAD CREATURES sports good detail in this anamorphic widescreen transfer (converted from PAL to progressive NTSC with the telltale second field top and bottom half-lines visible on monitors without overscan) even if the cinematography itself is sometimes flatly-lit. The film was previously released on DVD by MTI Home Video (HERE) in 2003, but we do not have specs for that edition.

The film is accompanied by an audio commentary in which the filmmakers are in a punchier mood than in I, ZOMBIE, proud of their 35mm feature and the greater resources and ingenuity (they also reveal that the veggie burgers were used for the flesh-eating scenes and have some laughs at the effects that didn't work because the grue looked more like vegetable soup on film). Parkinson provides additional audio commentary on a short collection of outtakes, stating that very little did not make it into the film because they were shooting on more expensive 35mm film. The scenes that did not make it into the final cut were mainly because the shots didn't cut together (and they didn't have the time or resources for pickup shots), slowed the pacing (he comments on the number of scenes with the cast member sitting around on the floor in the various apartments), as well as heat damage to some of the shooting stock that left an unattractive color cast on the image.

The making-of segment focuses mostly on the construction of the film's special effects creations but also has some talking head remarks by the main cast members on the realism of the film's approach to the zombie genre. Also included is video footage from the film's world premiere at the Fantasia film festival (possibly the only time film was projected theatrically from a film print). A trailer rounds out the extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Jinga Films / MVD Visual

Region 0 - NTSC

 


 

directed by Andrew Parkinson
USA 2006

Theatrical Release: 18 February 2014 (USA)

Reviews                                    More Reviews                                   DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Jinga Films / MVD Visual - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Jinga Films / MVD Visual

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:18:48
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Jinga Films / MVD Visual

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Trailers (16:9; 0:54 + 0:52)

DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2014
Amaray

Chapters 10

 

 

 

Comments

Jinga Films' single-layer disc features an attractive progressive, anamorphic widescreen transfer of this low-budget film, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack nicely represents the sound mix's favoring of dialogue and atmospheric effects over musical scoring. There are no extras apart from two trailers for the film itself.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Jinga Films / MVD Visual

Region 0 - NTSC

 



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