Todd Sheets' ultra-gory zombie films, shot on a mix of video and Super-8, get a 2-disc DVD release courtesy of Camp Motion Pictures.

The first film is arguably the best. A prologue shows a meltdown at a nuclear plant, that within minutes causes people to vomit, bleed goo from their craniums and ultimately turn into flesh-eating zombies.

After some stylish homemade credits, a female newscaster tells us that plans have been announced to build a new luxury housing project on a former government testing area - not the same area that suffered the meltdown and subsequent zombie infestation?! Surely not ...

The story focuses closer on a few characters - friends Mike (Auggi Alvarez) and Joey (Chris Harris), their parents and Melissa (Jody Rovick), leader of a mean all-female street gang.

For a while we follow their not-so dull lives (getting trapped in a local cave; fighting on the streets) until before long the zombies turn up and eventually everyone comes together for an extended bloody showdown.

Numerous exterior locations, hundreds of zombie extras and some truly gruesome FX work gives BLOODBATH a sense of being bigger than it is. The SOV origins are never too distracting, and much of the film looks akin visually to THE DEAD NEXT DOOR. It's speedy pace and infectious energy will win you over.

The sequel, sub-titled RAGE OF THE UNDEAD, is too ambitious for it's own good. Displaying more confidence as a filmmaker, Sheets fills the film with unnecessary and annoying slow-motion action sequences, unexplained forays into black-and-white and off-putting skewered camera angles.

The premise is that of a group of teens who make their way to an old farmhouse when their van breaks down, only to find it's been besieged by three escaped convicts. Bound and gagged by the overacting fugitives, the teens can't believe their luck can get any worse - but what they don't know (but we discover in the prologue - the best bit of the movie) is that many moons ago two thieves were killed by zombies on the very same farmhouse after trying to steal the farmer's gold ... and now a curse stands over the farm, meaning the undead are never far away!

This one outstays it's welcome and feels far too long at 89 minutes in length, although it does offer an initially inventive storyline, some decent gore and a couple of surprisingly mean-spirited moments of violence.

BLOODBATH 3 is sub-titled ZOMBIE ARMAGEDDON and is the worst of the trilogy.

Ever wondered what a cross between THE BREAKFAST CLUB and DAY OF THE DEAD would look like, were it shot on video and filled with awful thrash metal tunes on the soundtrack? No, nor had I. And I'll never have to now, because I've seen this. And it's shit.

A bunch of teens who are on detention discover - along with a couple of foulmouthed nerds staying late at school to run a radio show - that there are zombies in the basement. That's it, cue the gore ... only the gore takes a long time to come in this one. And when it does, chances are you'll have already stopped laughing and will be asleep.

Honestly, how bad is this film? It ends with bloopers beneath the credits, and has characters with names like Raimi, Romero, Mattei, Fulci and Deodato - it's THAT bad!! (yes I know THE DEAD NEXT DOOR did the latter too ...)

Ah well, at least all three films are uncut and presented in their original ratios (full-frame for the first two and non-enhanced 1.66:1 for the third). Mono audio tracks grace each film and despite some hiss here and there are clearly audible and loud throughout.

Static menus give access to some interesting extras.

First, there's commentary tracks for parts 1 and 2 from Sheets (no commentary track for part 3 - surprise!). Both tracks are informative fluent affairs, although they do tend to cover some of the ground. Sheets is joined by his 14-year-old son Joey on the first commentary track.

All three films have Behind-The-Scenes featurettes. The best of these is for the first film, with new interviews and some interesting making-of footage. At 35 minutes in length, it's also the most substantial.

The second featurette is 11 minutes long, while part 3's manages all of 6 minutes (and offers no behind-the-scenes footage whatsoever).

There's also a 21-minute early short film from Sheets called DEAD THINGS, which is shot on video and plays like a gory DELIVERANCE-type hillbilly thriller. It's primitive, but not bad for it's kind.

Finally, we get trailers for BLOODBATH parts 2 and 3.

For the more indiscriminate gorehound.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Camp Motion Pictures
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review