Way to open a jaded reviewer’s eyes in your opening scene:

A semi-naked girl runs panicked through the woods, a madman chasing her in broad daylight with a huge knife. She falls, he catches her up and begins hacking at her helpless body. Meanwhile, her nude twin sister is elsewhere in the woods, listening in horror to the screams. Suddenly the killer Pollux (Brandon Salkil) catches up with her and, following a battle of wills with his own bespectacled twin brother Castor, he slashes her throat – the camera closing in on the blood as it gushes over her ample breasts.

Yes. You have my attention.

The story begins proper when we meet Franco (Joshua Earl), a bible-spouting cowboy complete with Southern drawl and match-chewing sneer. He’s on an unstoppable mission to wipe out the titular creature; something he promised his mother he’d do while she was on her death bed.

Our first glimpse of Franco is as he hones in on a small church in the middle of the desert, enters it and blows several zombies away in captivating slow-motion. Alas, the one zombie he’s truly seeking is not there.

And so, Franco pays a visit to his old pal, Voodoo Bob (Duncan Mills). Bob deals in charms and talismans, and sold one to Franco that was supposed to lead him direct to his quarry. After much bartering, Bob sells Franco a new system of locating the zombie in question, on the condition that he can keep its head once he’s killed it.

Franco resumes his journey and soon bumps into Castor. It’s here that we learn Franco is actually looking for Pollux, a notorious serial killer of twin girls who has since been transformed into a zombie. Eventually believing that Castor is not Pollux but his innocent twin, Franco offers him a lift and the pair of them join forces on a mission of vengeance against the doctor-turned-zombie killer.

Not so far away, Mercy (Jessica Daniels) is a wronged woman who also wants to claim revenge against Pollux. So she removes her gimp hand and replaces it with a shit-kicking mechanical one, and then sets off on her own road trip – destined to cross paths with Franco and Castor, for certain.

Meanwhile, twin females are meeting their demise in gory – and often naked – ways. Which, of course, makes it that little bit easier for our mismatched trio of protagonists to find the sharp-suited, grinning killer …

ZOMBIE A-HOLE certainly looks the part right from the start, utilising that distressed look that many grindhouse-echoing films these days do to good effect. Aesthetically, the film falls somewhere between THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and an upper tier Andy Milligan film.

But what really impresses is the scope of director Duncan Mills’ screenplay. He takes the plot into daring supernatural territory, necessitating set-pieces and FX that many a filmmaker working on such a meagre budget would never attempt. So, we get ET-like creatures popping up to give Franco advice, and animated flashbacks as Castor regales his lift with the tale of how his brother become an evil monster.

Elsewhere, the gore set-pieces are lengthy and punctuated by satisfyingly splashy punch-lines. Despite skid-row production values, Mills pushes the boat out regularly and succeeds in making a film that is ultimately stylish beyond its means.

Camerawork, editing, lighting, FX … it’s all impressive.

The script is a little more iffy, but still quite strong for its ilk. Performances are so-so, as you’d expect. Perhaps the film’s biggest crime is that, at 108 minutes in length, it’s too long.

But, stick with it: it’s well-made, it’s good fun and it offers a fresh slant on a very tired sub-genre.

From MVD Visual, this region free DVD presents ZOMBIE A-HOLE fully uncut in a reasonable 16x9 transfer. I say ‘reasonable’, as the film is clearly made on a very low budget and shot on digital but doctored to look like a damaged grindhouse film of the 1970s. Any specks and vertical lines are therefore intentional, a’la DEATH PROOF, while some night scenes look a tad washed out.

Having said that, detail is impressive as are the natural-looking flesh tones (and, believe me, there’s a lot of flesh on offer). Colours are strong, blacks are solid … despite its limitations, I thought this was a reliable transfer.

English 2.0 audio is also highly consistent.

The disc opens with a static main menu page. There is no scene-selection menu, but the film can be travelled through by way of 23 remote chapters.

Extras kick off with a sterling commentary track from Mills and Salkil. This really is one of the best, most candid and comprehensive low-budget tracks I’ve heard in ages. These guys are fun, sincere and very open about techniques they used – and about how they were forced to leave stuff in that didn’t work so well. It’s a great listen, and I’m not a fan of commentary tracks.

The film’s original 91-second trailer is decent but doesn’t really do it full justice.

A 3-minute deleted scene entitled "The Nurse" offers more footage of a character who, unsurprisingly, gets naked before getting offed.

ZOMBIE A-HOLE has an unfortunately naff title but, if you’re prepared to look beyond that, it’s actually a very enjoyable and creative film. I look forward to Mills’ next effort.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by MVD
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review