Monday 15 June 2020

Zombie Toxin

d. Tom J Moose; w./p. Robert Taylor, Adrian Ottiwell, Tom J Moose; cast: Robert Taylor, Adrian Ottiwell, Tom J Moose, Lee Simpson, Nestus Forsythe, Russell Ottiwell

This Troma-influenced, shot-on-VHS epic has a strong claim as one of the first ever British zombie features. When a farmer drinks from a stream polluted by a dead horse he becomes a diarrhoea zombie (lots of gross-ups of a prosthetic bumhole!). The Satanist mad scientist who chopped up the horse is also now a zombie; in a unique scene they take turns biting bits off each other. The main plot has two Hitler-moustached Nazis plot to destroy humanity by selling bottles of wine brewed using yeast fertilised by zombie shit (the film-makers apparently thought yeast was a crop...). The wine bottles become sentient and fly through the air attacking people. Highlights include a version of Sinatra classic 'New York, New York' rewritten as 'Oop North, Oop North', the mad scientist’s assistant using a passing train to remove an arm (the wrong one), and one Nazi blowing the other up with a bazooka. Extraordinarily ambitious for the era, this is packed with blood, vomit, dismemberment and bad wigs, with three actors playing almost everyone on screen. Music by Aura director Steve Lawson. Made in 1992, this was released on VHS in the States by EI Independent Cinema in 1998 and also saw UK release (as Homebrew) through the legendary Screen Edge label. It bypassed DVD entirely to eventually surface on YouTube in 2019.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Dead Again

d./w. Steven M Smith; p. Steven M Smith, Tal Edgar; cast: Tony Fadil, Elliot Cable, Mark Wingett, Sonera Angel, Kit Pascoe, Chris Monk, Anastasia Cane, Will Pryor

Steven M Smith’s take on the zomcom subgenre is not entirely successful but is at least watchable, largely due to a likeable cast. Given how desperately awful so many low-budget horror comedies are, this can be considered a qualified success. Two rural coppers – one out of condition, experienced and cynical; one young, enthusiastic and na├»ve – face a zombie apocalypse in their tiny village. They hole up in a derelict manor house (the same location as Smith’s Scare Attraction) with a grizzled gamekeeper and three other random people whose characters aren’t explained. There’s no real plot here: of 75 minutes, four are titles/prologue, eight are credits and twelve are basically just the cops shooting zombies. Some giant alien spaceships are thrown in for no obvious reason and there is cheeky footage of Trump and Boris discussing COVID-19 as if it’s a zombie plague, Although the film is noticeably light on actual gags (the funniest moment is a fart), Smith gets the comic tone spot-on, with eccentric characters playing it straight in extraordinary circumstances, and good chemistry between the leads.