Ahh…anthology horror films, don't you just love them - short vignette slices of horrific fun to keep even the most restless viewers sated. Ever since the good old days of the classic Amicus and Tigon flicks the anthology movie has been a welcome (if somewhat underused) sub genre for the horror fan. As a big fan of the anthology horror film I was thrilled when writer/director Brian Clement's 'Exhumed' arrived.

As the film opens we meet Mr Grey, a mumbling dapper dressed corpse (who looks to have strayed off the set of an Ed Wood movie) whom explains that our triple bill of terror tales are all linked by the theme of bringing the dead back to life. Zombies eh? Now we know how much I love those guys!

The first tale (Shi No Mori aka Forest of Death) sees wandering samurai Zentaro reluctantly team up with a battling monk to enter the titled Forest of Death to try find an ancient artifact that seemingly has the power to revive the dead. The problem here being that said forest is also home to legions of the undead who protect the sought artifact. As short stories go 'Shi No Mori' is quite entertaining, moving along at a good pace with plenty of undead battling and arterial blood spraying. On the down side though genre fans that are familiar with the superior Japanese splatter gem 'Versus' will inevitably make comparison which is a shame and wont help 'Shi No Mori's cause. But if you put any comparison aside then you'll gain a lot of pleasure from this first segment - a fine way to begin.

Next up we are transported back to the good old days of the 1940's pulp film noir with 'Shadow Of Tomorrow' where we meet Jane De Carlo, a sassy private detective who whilst on the trail of a wayward wife for a client haplessly gets caught up in a misadventure involving grave robbing, corrupt cops, mad doctors and of course the undead! Filmed in black and white 'Shadow of Tomorrow' is a great tip of the hat to those beloved pulp movies of old, sure some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired (and check out Six Gun Annie's hilarious awkward dance routine) but in the main director Clement has captured delightfully the essence of the 50's B movie - in fact all that is missing is an appearance by the late great Bela Lugosi who would have been perfectly cast as the mad doctor here.

The final story 'Last Rumble' takes us into a weird apocalyptic future where in the midst of a destructive global war gangs of vampire mods and werewolf rockers (ahem, yeah you read that right) are slugging it out as they have always traditionally done. But even though between the war and the gang fights you'd think these somewhat misguided creatures had enough to contend with, they also have to try steer clear of the Naziesque military oppressors who regularly capture said vamps and wolfies for experimentation and their own deranged pleasures (forcing them to battle zombies and fight to the death between themselves). It is with two of these said captives (a particularly hairy browed blonde wolf chick and a gorgeous chainsaw welding vampette) that we follow this gory adventure. Even with the borderline absurd set piece (vamp mods and wolf rockers!?) 'Last Rumble' is without doubt the diamond in this trio of terror tales. The action moves along a lightning pace and the blood, brains and occasional sexual action is first rate with both Clements direction and the cast leads performances shining throughout. Top stuff!

As is often the case with any good anthology movie the final wrap up makes some attempt to link the mini yarns together, writer/director Clements was obviously three steps ahead of the game here with an excellent all encompassing finale that truly weaves all three stories closely together giving us a very gratifying conclusion. Admittedly in parts, 'Exhumed' is an often a hit and miss affair but as a whole 'Exhumed' is another winner for writer/director Brian Clements. Frustratingly two things that hold back movies like this are the restraints of budget and on occasion the standard of acting, thankfully though Clements does his best to try not let this detract from his vision when making his movies, they always have key moments that shine and with each movie you can palpably see his talent growing. All we need though is for the industry to give him support so he can bring his dreams to the screen without the financial constraints; I reckon this guy has the potential to make a classic…

But how about this independently produced DVD? Well like the main feature it certainly doesn't disappoint. As you would expect from any new production, the film looks and sounds great with a nice sharp image and clear stereo sound but there are also some nice extras here too. First off there are a couple of nice teaser trailers, then we get a selection of stills galleries for each segment (along with a 'pin up' gallery showcasing some of the foxy ladies who played dancers in the 'Shadow of Tomorrow' segment) but best of all is the short bonus behind the scenes featurette which dips its toes into (as they say) micro-budget horror filmmaking and makes for insightful fun viewing.

'Exhumed' isn't Brian Clements masterpiece horror calling card but with each poverty row budget feature he defies any restraint and takes a small step closer to making his classic genre movie. Until then we you can do no wrong by taking the time to check this baby out. Nice one!

For ordering details visit the Frontline Films site by clicking here .

Review by Alan Simpson