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EATERS - RISE OF THE DEAD
DVD region 2. Chelsea Films.

Eaters - Rise of the DeadThere was a time when the appearance of a new Italian zombie film was the cause of much excitement, but those days ended around the time of the Fulci / Mattei atrocity Zombie 3 and Zombie 4: After Death, a couple of films that put a bullet in the head of the spaghetti zombie movie. Since then, we’ve been flooded with low budget, semi (or fully) amateur living dead video disasters that have painfully milked the Romero back catalogue to no great effect, and so a new Italian film – shot on a budget that makes those earlier mentioned movies seem extravagant – is not an automatically appealing prospect. So it’s to Eaters’ credit that the film wasn’t completely awful – though connoisseurs of the genre won’t find anything new here.

The credits sequence detail the collapse of society as the dead rise, and as the story begins, we find ourselves in a remote pseudo-military hideout, where a possibly mad scientist is experimenting on the living dead while a handful of soldiers struggle for survival. In other words, it’s Day of the Dead, not the most action-packed Romero film to imitate. Thankfully, after this unpromising start, things get a little more original.

Two soldiers – Igor (Alex Lucchesi) and Alen (Guglielmo Favilla) hit the road to round up new specimens and score food and beer, and the remainder of the film follows their road trip, where they meet a mad artist, a band of Neo-Nazis (complete with a midget Fuhrer), a would-be cult leader and a teenage girl – the latter most significant, as the infection killed off the women first. As the pair fight off both living and dead threats to rescue the girl, back at the base, mad doctor Gyno (Claudio Marmugi) is experimenting on survivor Alexis (Rosella Elmi), a woman who is infected but somehow still alive, in the hope of creating a new race of breeding zombies.

Eaters - Rise of the DeadLike the film that inspired it, Eaters has some serious pacing issues – too much time is spent with nothing much happening other than lot and lots of dialogue, mostly from Sid Haig lookalike Lucchesi, that hammers home points about hopelessness, despair and fills in back story. That's fine in moderation, but it does tend to go on a bit – you wonder how Favilla’s character can put up with this endless barrage of crap from his partner. It’s bearable only because Lucchesi has quite a presence – he’s the only standout actor here.

The zombie attacks – eschewing CGI in favour of old-school prosthetics, thank goodness – are suitably gory, if a little chaotic (a possible result of the limitations of the Canon 7D used for shooting) and the score by Justin Bennett and Stefano Rossello is a cut above what you’d expect to find in a film of this level. But the story manages to be both derivative and sloppy – for all the attempts to fill in details with dialogue, there’s still a feeling that this is rushing through without bothering to explain important details. And the film’s look has all the feel of a project that is trying too hard to hide its video origins, having an overly washed out appearance.

Zombie fans won’t find anything new or innovative here, but director / producer / writer / everything else team of Luca Boni and Marco Ristori have at least come up with a film that at least avoids becoming too boring - and that alone puts them above most other zombie film producers, though frankly it's faint praise. I hope that having got their zombie film out of their systems, they will try to tackle something more original next time out.

The DVD comes complete with a half-hour behind-the-scenes featurette, which is pretty decent.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

 

 

 

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