A double-bill of B-movie sci-fi horror madness sounds fun?!

FEEDERS is a simple tale of two men - Derek (Jon McBride) and Bennett (John Polonia) - who, whilst making their way to the East Coast have their vacation interrupted when they spot a UFO in the skies.

Moving their fishing trip along, the two friends decide to leave the little town they've stopped at while passing through, but their plans are thwarted when they run a pedestrian over and are obliged to take him to the nearest doctor for urgent medical attention.

So Derek and Bennett stick around a little longer, waiting for their girlfriends to come and meet them at the agreed rendezvous spot (a local forest). Unbeknownst to our male leads, the alien craft has landed not so far from them and strange, skinny little monsters have embarked on a flesh-eating rampage throughout the woodlands and neighbouring town

I expected something akin to BAD TASTE when I popped FEEDERS into my DVD player. The first five minutes, at least, showed the promise of some wit and invention (a brief narrative on the belief of life on other planets; the nifty space scenes) but no.

FEEDERS does have decent editing, above-par acting (when considering the other shot-on-video horror films of recent years) and some nice splashy FX from Bill Morrison (THE DEAD NEXT DOOR; THE OZONE). The monsters are puppet-like (as opposed to a man in a suit), so a little ambition on the filmmakers' part must not go by unsung no matter how cheesy the creature FX actually are!!

On the down side, the film is unimaginative - a shame, when the greatest asset a zero-budget trashfest like this could have is fresh ideas. The scenes where we get to see the world from the aliens' POV have been done a million times before; the twist ending is predictable; every character is wooden and uninvolving

But this is Z-grade movie-making at it's most enjoyable, I guess, because despite it's short-comings (or perhaps due to them) FEEDERS does hold it's viewer's attention and delivers the goods in a clock-pleasing 70 minutes. The pace is brisk, and you're left with the impression that directors McBride and Polonia , along with the latter's brother Mark, don't really give a fuck about their film's problems - they're happy enough to make a 'so bad it's good' piece of entertaining, gory trash. And they've succeeded!

Before I move on, I should give a special nod to the hilarious fight scene between Bennett and his clone. Very funny - whether it was meant to be or not. Oh, and the early daylight scenes of the UFO skimming above the trees. So ineptly orchestrated that you can't help but be impressed

FEEDERS 2: SLAY BELLS. If I could get away with offering a one word review, it would be: Terrible. However, I have a modicum of conscientiousness when it comes to writing these reviews, and I feel that the least number of words I could use to accurately summarise this film are four: Absolutely, terribly fucking abysmal.

Opening with Derek being interviewed in a mental asylum, he briefly recaps the events of the first film through a series of sepia-tainted flashbacks.

The action then shifts to the Polonia family decorating a Christmas tree in their living room, the father (Mark Polonia) declaring "I think this is going to be the best Christmas yet". Cue a quick cut to aliens approaching Earth

The FX are marginally more ambitious this time around, but that isn't really saying much. In fact, the budget as a whole seems slightly bigger here (better gore; we see inside the UFOs ). But bigger is not always better.

The acting and script are pitiful. The pace seems slower this time around, and the attempts at comedy are so lame I am struggling to think of an adjective fitting of their awfulness.

Many of the same tricks (the aliens' psychedelic POV shots etc) are repeated from the first film, and all that I can say about FEEDERS 2 is that it does offers a leftfield plot as Santa Claus is ambushed by the aliens while preparing to make his traditional Xmas Eve drop-offs. So, along with the Polonia family, Santa vows to get revenge on this gang of "Christmas saboteurs"

Santa's disposal of an alien intruder in the Polonia household (with a toy 'laser' gun) has to be seen to be disbelieved.

The original FEEDERS was dreadful in many ways, but I found it got by as an attempt at good old-fashioned sci-fi horror on a shoestring budget, and found it's inadequacies strangely charming.

FEEDERS 2 on the other hand, veers between bad comedy and feeble attempts at dark horror, covering too much ground in it's flimsy plot and yet never really going anywhere at the same time. It did raise an unintentional chuckle on occasion, but it's predecessor even wins on this respect: FEEDERS 2 is not 'so bad it's good'. It's just plain bad - and it's 72 minutes of my life that I'll never get back!

Yet again, it gets to that stage where I feel really guilty for slagging off the films they offer, because when it comes to providing value-for-money discs Sub Rosa are among the best.

Picture quality on both films is fine. The image is full-frame and for a couple of shot-on-video productions, the digital mastering has been handled well. There's some softness and occasional colour-bleeding, but nothing to weep openly about. Grain is minimal, and night scenes fare well.

Audio-wise, the 2.0 mono soundtracks are excellent.

Both films have static menu pages allowing access to the extra features.

Two feature films on one disc is one thing. To afford them both their own director's commentary tracks is just great. Why you'd want to hear the filmmakers' side after watching FEEDERS and FEEDERS 2 is anyone's guess but at least you have that choice. As an aside, I must say I find it highly bemusing when someone like Steven Speilberg declines all invitations to comment upon his films - and yet here we have the Polonia brothers waxing lyrical about the difficulty of shooting a scene when you're strapped to the bonnet of a car, or the pitfalls involved in hiring family members to flesh out your cast! Surprisingly, the Polonia brothers discuss their filmmaking techniques without the slightest hint of irony

There's a featurette on the making of FEEDERS, which includes onscreen interviews with Jon McBride and the Polonia brothers. Interviewed separately, the three interviews are intercut together, explaining how the filmmakers met, how their mutual love of 50s sci-fi/horror flicks inspired the idea for FEEDERS. Again, the whole thing is discussed in quite a serious manner - which contradicts my notion while watching FEEDERS that these people KNEW they were making a bad film. I don't think they did!! This footage lasts a whopping 45 minutes.

Five minutes worth of Special effects screen tests follow. These are specific to the shots of UFOs flying through the sky, both by day and by night. They're terrible.

A stills gallery is more like a photo album, and just shows how much these films were family affairs. It also includes excerpts from the original FEEDERS screenplay, and a bizarrely good review for FEEDERS taken from some misguided magazine!

The 'Jon McBride Database' had me gasping in embarrassment for the poor fella. It's a gallery of 10 black-and-white photographs from the guy's portfolio - hideously cringe-worthy.

And all of the above refers to FEEDERS alone! FEEDERS 2 has a whole array of extras all to itself

There's another featurette of interviews with the Polonia brothers and McBride, shot at the same locations as before but talking specifically about the sequel this time around. There's talk of the original film's success, working with kids and animals, ambitious location shoots a good 20 minutes or so.

XMAS ALIENS follows. This sees the Polonia brothers giving away the secrets of how the aliens were created, and giving us a peek into the props from FEEDERS 2 that they proudly keep in the basement of their house, including the Santa costume. "Fans might be interested in seeing this" says John (or was it Mark?)

A photo gallery from the set of FEEDERS 2 is, again, basically a collection 0f 9 cheery family photographs.

BOX ART GALLERY is a 19 page compilation of video cover artwork for FEEDERS and other Polonia brothers triumphs such as CANNIBAL CAMPOUT, WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE and BLOOD RED PLANET. Some nice artwork, actually.

Finally, there are a few pages of text giving a basic history of Sub Rosa studios.

FEEDERS is certainly worth a look if you have a tolerance for cheesy bad films that entertain on a trashy, gory level. FEEDERS 2 is just bloody awful, and not in an amusing way. The disc is reasonably priced and crams a decent wealth of extras onto it alongside the two feature presentations. And you can't complain about that!

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Sub Rosa
Region All NTSC
Not Rated
Extras : see main review