(A.k.a. EATERS)

"Uwe Boll presents ..."

As the film begins, we see via a montage of TV news clips that the world has been devastated by a man-made plague. First it attacked women, rendering them infertile. Then, it spread further, turning people everywhere into ravenous zombies. Many believe the disease to be attributable to a mysterious, genius terrorist known only as the Plague Spreader.

We’re told that the military have set up international extermination camps in an attempt to deal with this ever-growing concern. But, as one newscaster asks, how do you kill that which is already dead? Even the Pope is said to have committed suicide, his last words being "I don’t want to come back".

In the midst of this post-Apocalyptic milieu are Igor (Alex Lucchesi) and Alen (Guglielmo Flavilla). Friends from a military background, they are among the few survivors apparently left. They hide out in a huge warehouse, where Alen spends his time watching TV for the latest news, and Igor dreams of experiencing the touch of a woman one last time.

Igor is the hothead compared to Alen’s more easygoing persona. Igor is particularly unhappy that they share their hideout with scientist Gyno (Claudio Marmugi), who believes the epidemic may be a sign of the human race evolving. All he needs are more zombie specimens to experiment upon.

Despite Igor’s protestations, Alen agrees that they will look for fresh specimens on their next venture outdoors. And so, the pair of squabbling buddies embark on a 2-day journey into the forbidding outdoors.

Once on the outside (bearing witness to some strikingly empty streets, a’la 28 DAYS LATER and ZOMBIELAND), Igor and Alen soon learn that the only people more deranged than their undead aggressors are the fellow survivors they come across. These include a demented painter, a group of cartoonish Neo-Nazis led by the barmy Fuhrer (Fabiano Loi) and Cristina (Elisa Ferretti), who may be able to help them get one step closer to the fabled Plague Spreader ...

Filmed in Tuscany on a budget that co-director Marco Ristori reckons is less than the cost of the average wedding video, EATERS quite often looks fantastic. The HD photography has been processed to give it a more film-like look, and this works wonders in terms of atmosphere and visual sheen.

It helps that Paco Ferrari’s cinematography and the co-directors’ (the other director is Luca Boni) editing are excellent throughout. Visually, EATERS is a highly accomplished stab at low-budget horror.

This pace is quick and the gore FX, courtesy of David Bracci and Carlo Diamantini, are satisfyingly splashy throughout. The Boni-supervised CGI aside, fans of old-school zombie bloodbaths will find plenty to float their boat here.

Likeable protagonists help, and we’re not disappointed by the amusingly surly Lucchesi and easily identifiable Flavilla. Fans of Italian erotica will be amused to learn that porn star Francesco Malcom (Joe D’Amato’s CALIGULA THE DEVIANT EMPEROR etc) turns up in a small role. Elsewhere, look out for punk icon Steve Sylvester in a brief but essential part.

Even the soundtrack, a mixture of stirring rock music and original score, works well.

On the down side, the script earns no points for originality – it’s essentially a mish-mash of DAWN OF THE DEAD and RESIDENT EVIL – and, despite the fun to be had, a running time of 90 minutes is stretching it when the script is so devoid of ideas outside of zombie attacks.

EATERS looks superb in a glossy anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation. Colours are strong, blacks are stable and there is a remarkable depth to many scenes. Filters and optical effects have been employed by the filmmakers to lend their effort a deliberately dark feel, and this is accurately conveyed in what is an excellent transfer.

Italian audio comes in two sterling mixes: 2.0 and an especially rousing, well-balanced 5.1 option. Removable English subtitles are well-written and easy to read.

An animated main menu page boasts almost as much energy as the film itself. From there, a static scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

Bonus features are led by a superb 34-minute Making Of featurette. This showcases the filmmakers as bright young sparks who overcame their lack of budget by virtue of imagination and sheer enthusiasm. Refreshingly well-humoured (Ristori berates those who dismiss the film merely because Uwe Boll’s name is attached to it; Favilla insists he was cast because he has a "dickface"), this is an engaging and insightful behind-the-scenes package. It’s just a shame that the original short film and teaser trailers that help convince Boll to finance this film aren’t included on the disc.

However, we do also get a 4-minute featurette on the film’s FX. This uses a split-screen method to demonstrate the evolution of the film’s effects. Set to thumping techno music, this would have played better with some kind of commentary track attached to it.

Finally, the film’s theatrical trailer runs for just over 2 minutes and does a good job of emphasising the happy mix of style, gore and humour present in the main feature.

EATERS is a fun, if wilfully plagiaristic, zombie film that should sate anyone looking for a film with lashings of really well-executed gore. It has wit, and plenty of muscle. The leads are amiable, and the action is unrelenting.

It comes on a solid DVD from Chelsea Cinema.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Chelsea Cinema
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review