Thursday, June 23, 2011

DVD Review: ZOMBIE ABOMINATION & ZOMBIE ATROCITY - The Italian Zombie Movie Parts 1&2

Rating: Unrated
Region Code: Region 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 196 mins
Video: 4:3 Letterboxed Widescreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Director: Thomas Berdinski
Cast: Jeff Bromlet, Laurie Beckman, LaShelle Mikesell, Dan Grams, John Mikesell
Tagline: The dead are back - FOR A SNACK!

Film: How to describe Thomas Berdinski's THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE leaves one grasping for words, it's a mondo-backyard zombie epic and it's chock full of flesh comping zombies, a succubus, a psychic, interdimensional beings, military black ops and the Michigan Militia yet this only begins to scratch the surface of the cast of characters and what your in for here.

The set-up here goes that during Operation Desert Storm the US Army funded a diabolical Italian scientist named Dr. Falluci (John Mikesell) to create an "Antitixoin" which would immunize out troops from virtually all chemical and biological weapons. Of course things go horribly wrong  during human testing on US soldiers, and so begins the cover-up. Enter Sgt. Bruno Deodata (Jeffery S. Bromely),  a member the Special Forces who's investigating the death of his twin brother Dario which occurred while on a mission to recover a lost shipment of Antitoxin. His investigation brings him in contact with Dr. Falluci and his sultry psychic assistant Katriona (LaShelle Mikesell) who sends him in search of the Antitoxin armed with a map of ...Italy? Bruno enlists the help of a former Special Forces friend Jeremiah and The Colonel who are both proud member of the Michigan Militia but one of 'em or both may have ulterior motives for assisting Bruno in his search for the Antitoxin.

Also caught up in the madness is an evil succubus named Maria (Laurie Beckerman) and her hysterically funny dumbass boyfriend Ruggero (Dan Grams), Sarrek and Image of Saragon who may or may not be aliens and The General who operates the Facility for Army Resurrection Management (aka "the FARM") - what's his stake in all this mayhem?And let us not foget The Gas Station Attendant It all boils down to a slightly confusing though fantastically gruesome zombie epic loaded with homages to 70's and 80's Italian zombie cinema from the likes of Lucio Fulci and Ruggero Deadoto with some George A. Romero influence thrown in for good measure, of course. Nearly everyone in the film is named after an Italian director or actor. Some might call the storyline bloated and convoluted (and it is) but I call it pure fucking genius, this was a blast to watch.

The special effects work is gloriously low-budget but effective at one moment and preposterously awful the next and about as nasty as you can imagine. There's perhaps more intestines in this film than in Night, Dawn and DAY OF THE DEAD combined. There's discolored urine discharge and a scene wherein someone shits their intestines which my wife saw and immediately walked out on, there's little doubt that if depraved gore is what you crave this film is not a let down in anyway.

The acting is appropriately over-the-top and goofy for such a low-budget production. Everyone is just having a blast camping it up and paying homage to the oftentimes shady acting in the Italian schlockfests of yore, it both pays tribute to and condescends at the same time. The one-liners come fast and furious, it's endlessly quotable, classic low-brow stuff. The film's humor is not only zombie-centric, Berdinski's stuffed the script with enough double entendre and masturbation jokes to appease even those who aren't zombie-nerds.

Now obviously I love this film, it knows what it is and works well within those confines even when it threatens to turn into a three hour sci-fi-zombie clusterfuck, which it definitely does, but I must say that THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE is one awesomely entertaining film. That said, it may not be for you, but if it's not you cup o' tea then we probably couldn't be friends, just saying. For everyone else with a taste for gore and an obnoxious sense of humor grab a sixer on the way over and I'll have nachos ready when you get here.

DVD: THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE is presented in 4:3 letterboxed widescreen with stereo audio. It looks rough, no doubt about it - it's a no-budget feature but is completely watchable and enjoyable despite some low-grade image qaulity with artifacting. This nearly three hour double-feature DVD  eliminates the bonus features that are included on the individual releases, but we do get a brand new cast and crew commentary track not available anywhere else and the short film THE GIANT RUBBER MONSTER MOVIE which will be a true delight for fans of Kaiju films and Japanese giant monster shows from the 70's, fun stuff. The commentary is a bit rambling and probably drunken, too, but like the film itself it's a wonderful ramshackle affair as the cast discuss the film with a steady stream of entertaining behind-the-scene anecdotes. It should be noted that both the ZOMBIE ABOMINATION and ZOMBIE ATROCITY stand alone DVD's contain a wealth of bonus materials and are anamorphic so if you're a supplemental-minded type who really wants a 16x9 enhanced image you may wanna spring for those separately.

Special Features:
- Director and Cast Audio Commentary Track

Verdict: When it comes to gruesome zombie mayhem few films are as epic as THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE MOVIE. Thomas Berdinski is a mad genius of schlocky no-budget zombie cinema and no fan of Italian zombie films, gore or a disturbing horror comedy should deprive themselves of this one. The goriest comedy since Peter Jackson's DEAD ALIVE, for real. Order the double-feature Convention Version of the film for only $5 for a limited time from Kunaki at otherwise head on over to the Amazon links below, now isn't that convenient?

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