Ultimate Zombie Feast

Ultimate Zombie Feast

*

Reviewed by: Neil Mitchell

I'd love to be able to say that Ultimate Zombie Feast – a collection of 18 zombie-themed shorts from around the world – was an absolute blast, a thrilling rollercoaster ride of exciting, bloody mayhem packed with wit, invention and surprises. Unfortunately, I can't. Melbourne-based Monster Pictures have taken it upon themselves to put together this offering, released on two-disc DVD, and be warned, if you part with your cash for this you'll more than likely feel short changed even with a five hour plus running time. The movies, running from anything between six minutes to an hour, act more like a nail in the coffin of, rather than a life giving elixir to, the zombie genre.

Maybe after 30 years of watching zombie movies, and having gone through my teenage years convinced that George A Romero was the greatest filmmaker who ever lived, my palate has become somewhat dulled to the undead? Maybe the genre has gone as far as it can? Zombies have always been my favourite 'monster', you can keep your vampires, werewolves and ghosts. I want my central characters to be perpetually in fear of being torn limb from limb by rotting, shuffling (or indeed running) corpses.

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Watching the disparate groups of survivors as seen in Romero's Day Of The Dead or in the long-running comic book, and now hugely popular TV series, The Walking Dead, battling each other as often as they do the swarms of always hungry 'dumbfucks' or 'walkers', is my default setting for horror genre based fun. What isn't fun, however, is wading through over five hours of tired, sometimes amateurish, often badly acted shorts that offer nothing but lazy homages, fanboy pastiches and dull retreads of the far superior movies they endlessly reference.

I can't help but be dismayed that the evident enthusiasm for making movies on display in all of the shorts featured on this mammoth package isn't matched by the writing or acting, much of which doesn't appear to be much higher than 'enthusiastic amateur' level. I accept that in some cases, such as David M Reynolds' Zomblies – a 47-minute mash up of 28 Days Later and Doomsday that's not without its merits – budgetary constraints mean that many of the roles are undertaken by the crew as opposed to professional actors, but stilted, untrained delivery of dialogue gets pretty painful to watch after a while. Especially when that dialogue isn't first rate to begin with.

Despite being a real endurance test, Ultimate Zombie Feast isn't a total write off; Spanish entry Zombies And Cigarettes (Rafa Martinez, Inaki San Roman) and Bren Lynne's Kidz, from Canada, both prove to be diverting, amusing fare, while the pick of the bunch, It Came From The West (Tor Fruegaard), is a memorable oddity from Denmark that combines hand drawn animation and puppetry to tell its zombie-Western tale. It says a lot about the paucity of acting skills on show that the most expressive characterisations and believable emotions displayed in all the shorts comes from the puppets in Fruegaard's entry. It's an excessively gory romp that references any number of Spaghetti Westerns, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Evil Dead and Braindead, while still being a highly distinctive effort.

Apart from the above mentioned movies, Ultimate Zombie Feast fails to deliver on practically every front; the comedy shorts aren't funny, the storylines all too predictable and the cumulative effect is to make one running back to the classics of the genre, whether that be The Return of the Living Dead or Dawn and Shaun of the Dead. Even hardened horror fans with a high tolerance threshold for below par entertainment will do well to get through the dispiritingly mundane offerings on show here.

Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2012
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A compilation of 18 zombie themed short films from around the world

Year: 2012

Runtime: 300 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/USA/Denmark/France/India/Spain

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