Friday, June 26, 2009

Low, Low Budgets For Low, Low Times

In honor of George A. Romero and his low budget success, I'm going to do a capsule review of a few films, shot on video for no money, that tackle zombies head-on. They're all dreadful and their creators seem to have no idea why they're terrible. They're painfully average in the preparation and just risible in the execution, but they're independent and there's a lesson to be learned in all this mediocrity. So let's meet the Roger Cormans of this generation, shall we?

Dead Moon Rising
by Mark E. Poole
The only difference between this and your average student zombie film is ther's a snarky narrator telling us things we could care less about. The economy, the weather, a bunch of other shit no one cares about, least of all in a movie that was a total misuse of funds. There's a scene at the end where a lot of extras, most of them bikers, and a lot of zombie extras clash on some Californian street or other. If you had the money to get those people together and close a street down, you had the money for a better camera or a decent idea.

by Julián Lara

There's a tendency in a lot of Spanish and/or Latin American pop culture to base stories around guys in black trench coats shooting enormous guns. That's not really all that interesting. Now add a lame sense of humour, subtract continuity, add some dime budget zombies, and shoot it all in video and you have Deadhunter. I wish there was more to say, but there isn't. No one involved has apparently fired one of those giant guns they're carrying because they misuse them left and right.

Dead Summer
by Eddie Benevich
This and Deadhunter were actually on the same DVD so that should have been a big enough clue, but, when have I ever put 2 and 2 together before? This is actually a step up from most of the Troma films I've seen in that though there wasn't any money or talent behind it, it wasn't a terrible idea. That gag with the bondage was pretty lame, even for a film like this. Ultimately no better or worse than the rest of the zombie films that get made today and go straight to DVD, I just happened to have this in front of me and it bugged me that people keep going completely hackneyed routes so I felt the need to vent.

by J.R. Bookwalter
I had high hopes for Bookwalter after his misguided but grimy low-budget The Dead Next Door. That wasn't a great film, but it had some pretty decent gore effects and a pretty unique idea so I don't think I was the only one who maybe thought Bookwalter would make something of himself. Ozone was his last zombie movie before becoming a part of Full Moon Pictures and Tempe Video's stable of terrible directors dedicated to straight-to-video horror films that cost less than most weddings. Anyway, back to Ozone. Ozone is supposed to a police procedural/zombie film crossover, but unless you really like being bored out of your fucking mind, you'd never know it. Anyway, the zombies are in service to a big, fat drug-fueled zombie. None of it makes any sense and the zombies are just kinda there and do whatever suits the scene; continuity was not Bookwalter's specialty.

The lesson I told you that we were gonna learn is that because you have enough money to make a film, doesn't mean you should rush out and shoot something. Write a script, a good one. Watch a lot of movies and figure out what's been done before and what works. Don't just film everything you can and slap it together and call it a day. Actors are important, a story is important, a good idea of what directing means is important, money enough to afford real cameras and sound equipment and locations not just the thing you shot your brother's wedding on and your buddy's bar. Take your time, talk to friends, do rewrites. Don't just make shit because then nobody wins.

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