Something strange is happening in the small town of Downey, Middle America. It all begins in a hospital morgue, where newly recruited porter Charlie (Chris Shepardson) is attacked by a fresh cadaver in an alarmingly gory pre-credits moment.

After that, we cut across to the local high school, where we meet a bunch of mature students who will be our focal points for the next hour or so (the film is refreshingly short at 75 minutes in length).

Principally split into three groups, we have the jocks led by obliviously dumb Lance (Joel Hebner), the popular girls fronted by sassy Jackie (Juliet Reeves), and the ill-fitting grungers - overseen by cucumber-cool Chris (Garrett Jones). Much to the jocks' distaste, Chris is dating their pal Jackie.

One morning in the school, a student goes crazy and takes a large bite out of one of the lecturers. Despite the commotion this causes - nerd Matty (Jason Brague) hurriedly rushing his grunger pals Chris, knuckleduster-brandishing Scott (William Howard Bowman) and Tim (Rowan Bousaid) to the scene of the gore just for the sheer spectacle - the kids soon forget about this hullabaloo and concentrate on more pertinent things: like how to spend their evening.

Jackie desperately wants to go to a house party with her friends and the jocks. But Chris hates that kind of thing, and instead decides to go to a rock concert with his mates.

Meanwhile, Matty goes home and finds that his mother has become infected by the quickly-spreading zombie epidemic. Alas, he can't escape and she tears him apart.

For a while, our teen friends are oblivious to the escalating zombie problem in their neighbourhood. That soon changes when Chris and his posse arrive at the concert venue, only to be chased inside it by a horde of extremely fast-moving flesh-eaters.

Elsewhere, at the house party - "the social event of the year", as Lance describes it - the revellers remain unaware of the growing pandemonium outside ... until Matty turns up feeling very hungry.

Havoc ensues as the kids battle through the night to survive a town filled with increasing numbers of bloodied - and bloody nifty - zombies.

Can Chris keep his closes friends alive and save Jackie in the process? While the answer to this question is perhaps one you can predict without seeing the film, we do at least get plenty of high-octane gory action to enjoy throughout his plight.

ZOMBIE TRANSFUSION (the onscreen title is the original AUTOMATION TRANSFUSION, which is a much better title) is a low budget indie affair - reportedly shot for $30,000.00 on a digital video camera - that doesn't offer much in the way of plot, but instead goes for the throat in terms of pacing and outlandish amounts of gore.

Chain saw violence, various throat-tearings, a bloody eye impalement, numerous dismemberments and - naturally - a whole shed-load of cannibalism are the order of the day in writer-director Steven C Miller's ferocious 2006 feature debut.

Tightly edited and breathlessly paced, the film lacks any real storyline or character development, and as a result is unsatisfying on a dramatic level. Rather, it can be mildly enjoyed as a surprisingly bleak and humour-free exercise in hardcore zombie horror.

With drab colours and frequently shaky handheld camera work, the film looks not unlike Leif Jonkers' DARKNESS. A further comparison can be made by drawing attention to the metal soundtracks that hamper both films.

The FX work in both films is quite similar too, both boasting old-school stage blood and cheap prosthetics to varying effect. Kudos to Rick Gonzales' team for their ample FX work littered liberally throughout ZOMBIE TRANSFUSION.

While the pace is unrelenting and the action ceaselessly noisy (honestly, the constant screaming becomes wearing), Miller's film never truly connects. Yes, it's savage and, yes, it's admirably committed to avoiding the pastiche of many latter-day living dead films. But it's budgetary restrictions and, more so, the limitations of it's carefree script and unreliable performances are it's undoing.

As a gory party film though, it works on a superficial level. I doubt it'll hold up to repeated viewings though.

The film is presented uncut in a full-frame presentation. Picture quality is not great, which is no doubt down to the way the film was shot. Colours are muted while blacks are not particularly strong. Digital noise is present at times, and ghosting is an issue during many of the incessant shaky camera scenes.

English audio is presented in original 2.0 and seems fair in playback. Optional English subtitles are provided. These are well-written and easy to read.

The animated main menu leads into a static scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

The only film-related extra is a 1-minute trailer. This is a fast-paced montage of gore scenes set to noisy metal - in other words, it's perfectly indicative of the main feature.

The disc opens with trailers for the gruesome NECROMENTIA, WHITE LIGHTNIN' and the superb-looking two-part gangster epic MESRINE.

ZOMBIE TRANSFUSION is an action-filled bloodfest that is neither as bad as many reviews make it out to be, or as good as it sounds in theory.

Worth a look, perhaps. And I'm intrigued to see what Miller delivers with the forthcoming sequel AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION: CONTINGENCY.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Momentum Pictures
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review