As New York becomes heavily hit by the Lazarus Virus - an unexplained plague that resurrects the dead with a thirst for feeding off the living - a group of TV broadcasters work away at Channel 5 studios.

Their task is to sell an image to the masses via their news broadcasts, making the public beleive the situation is under control and that there is no need to panic.

Begrudgingly at the forefront of this operation are anchorwoman Shelly (Rachel Morris), her cameraman Torch (Billy Garberina, THE STINK OF FLESH) and their military escort Roger (Patrick Cohen, RAVING MANIACS).

Their first task is to drive down to the Western Mall and report on the folk who are carrying on with their business as normal.

In a diner, Shelly plasters on a fake smile for her report, while Torch flirts with the waitress, getting her to sex up her part in an on-screen interview.

Meanwhile, Torch's boss Fran is waiting nearby in a van, ready to take our intrepid trio back to the safety of the TV studio once their task has been completed. When Shelly and her boys don't arrive back at the van by their designated time, Fran grows impatient and decides to pursue them on foot. Bad move.

Torch arrives on the scene just in time to film Fran being devoured by a group of ravenous zombies.

Back at the studio, the team are told to keep the footage of Fran's death so it can be screened on the 6 o'clock news.

Our team's next mission is to drive out to the centre of New York and record a pacifying speech from Governor Jamieson, ensuring the public that the panic is over and that people such resume their lives as normal.

But what the team witness on the city streets while recording Jamieson's speech is far from normal - zombies running rampant, while soldiers, punks and rednecks alike roam the streets picking off the undead for sport.

Torch and Shelly realise that they have in their power the ability to tell the public the truth. Roger, meanwhile, seems to have little more on his mind that getting into Shelly's knickers!

FEEDING THE MASSES is brimming with ideas, mostly revolving around the media's manipulation of crises, and showing how people exploit even the most catastrophic circumstances for their own gain - whether it be Torch mugging an ambling zombie to steal their dope, or the cheesy Berman & Berman ad, offering to locate, re-kill (humanely!) and re-bury your loved ones ... for a fee.

The script, by Trent Haaga (HELL ASYLUM; RAVING MANIACS) is intelligent and makes more comments on not only social breakdown but the many facets of death and it's affect on those around it, than any of Romero's DEAD films.

Richard Griffin (TITUS ANDRONICUS) directs, and does so in such a way that allows for quieter, more reflective moments to creep in amongst the gore, quick-fire dialogue and occasional cheap CGI explosions. Griffin is definitely interested in the human side of his characters, allowing them all space to grow and breathe. It works to the film's benefit.

But that said, there's still plenty of shooting, flesh-eating, masturbation, drug-taking and chain saw violence to be savoured along the way!

The film is presented in it's original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been 16x9 enhanced. Picture quality is very nice, with no grain, bleeding or artefacting - no complaints!

The stereo soundtrack comes through loud and clear, free from drop-outs, hisses or any other audio problems.

As always with Shock-O-Rama discs, the extras on offer are plentiful.

An audio commentary track is provided by Griffin and Garberina, and is an engaging listen - filled with enthusiasm and light humour. It's good to hear a track that doesn't suffer from the usual pregnant pauses too - these two have plenty to say!

There's a 30 minute behind-the-scenes featurette that takes great pains to give us on-screen introductions to just about the entire crew. Nothing revelationary here, but a worthwhile watch nevertheless.

Two short films follow - VOLTAGEN, and THE HYPOSTATIC UNION. Both are directed in stark 16mm black and white by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks (HEADCHEESE). Both, rather interestingly, are produced by Kim Henkel (THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE).

VOLTAGEN is the longer of the two shorts at 10 minutes long, and is more linear than the rather pretentious UNION. Both have interesting visual ideas though, and benefit from optional commentary tracks provided by Graves and Meeks.

Then there's a four minute promo reel celebrating Shock-O-Rama's first year, with plenty of gory clips from their best-known product, plus a look to the future with forthcoming retro releases like SLIME CITY and CRIMINALLY INSANE promised.

Last but not least, there's a generous selection of trailers for Shock-O-Rama titles - including MASSES, VAMPS 2, SCREAMING DEAD, SUBURBAN NIGHTMARE ...

An intelligent and well-executed entry into the zombie genre, and possibly the most satisfying Shock-O-Rama production to date. Good disc, too.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Shock-O-Rama
Region 1 NTSC
Not Rated
Extras : see main review