Another Hole In the Head 2011 Film Festival runs June 2nd through the 16th at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. Check out the Festival Genius site for film schedules and tickets.
Directed by Luca Boni and Marco Ristori
Fri, June 3rd @ 1130pm
Tues, June 14th @ 920pm
Americans may have started the zombie craze by way of George Romero’s Living Dead series, but we no longer corner the market. Germany, Norway, and France are just some of the countries that have released zombie films in recent years, but there’s one other nation that has been at it for years. Italy’s been dabbling in the shambling dead for almost as long as the US has, and thanks to the likes of Lucio Fulci and Michele Soavi they’ve actually churned out some some stellar entries. It’s been a while since they’ve made an effort to return Italian flesh-eaters to the big screen, but apparently they were just waiting for the right producer to come along and lower their standards.
And before your soon to be devoured tongue can even begin to utter ‘dannato non Uwe Boll!’… it’s time for a zombie apocalypse!
“The Pope committed suicide this morning at 9 o’clock shooting himself in the head. He left a note saying ‘I do not want to come back.’”
A plague has swept around the world turning the living into the hungry dead. The number of survivors shrinks every day, but a handful of men have holed up in a gated factory where they lead a mundane daily existence. Well, as mundane as it can get in a world filled with zombies. Alen (Guglielmo Favilla) and Igor (Alex Lucchesi) are hunters who head out each morning to look for other survivors and gather live undead specimens for the good doctor back at camp. Dr. Gyno… yes, Gyno… is running experiments in the hopes of curing the epidemic. Did somebody say zombified vulvas?
Throw in some competitively obsessed neo-Nazis, a pair of rednecks who play with zombies before killing them, an artist named Warhol who gets off on painting detached body parts, and a voice on the radio who calls himself the Plague Spreader and takes responsibility for this new hell on earth and you pretty much have the rest of the cast. Well, except for the woman that Alen keeps in a cage.
There are pretty much two core ingredients in any worthwhile zombie film, and if you can do those well your film may just earn itself a pass in other areas. Viewers want scenes (preferably in the mayhem of a bloody third act) of grotesque shamblers or runners chasing down the living… and when they catch them we want to see some serious flesh munching. Zombies eat people, so it should be shown as wet, sloppy, and disgusting as possible.
Eaters pretty much fails on both counts unfortunately. Tons of zombies are shot resulting in CGI blood splashes that splat in mid-air. It’s like they hit a sheet of clear plexiglass between the action and the camera (or maybe it’s supposed to be the camera lens?), and it looks pretty silly. But there’s no climactic scene with masses of zombies overrunning our protagonists. Hell, there aren’t really even protagonists here as the two leads are fairly unlikable. (Although Ivan comes close when he belts out some Wham! lyrics followed by “Fuck, that was a real band man! I’m not a gay…”)
And don’t get me started on the twenty plus minutes of screen-time spent “driving” in front of terribly obvious green-screen.
The bits that do work here are frustratingly brief teases that get dropped as fast as they appear. Zombies that talk? Zombies that can conceive? A midget Hitler impersonator? These are ideas that deserved to be explored further, but instead we get bad jokes, an action set-piece that moves from exciting to belabored in the blink of a lidless eye, and two leads who get surprised by zombies and other bad guys repeatedly.
Eaters takes a far different tact than the Italian zombie classics of decades past, and it suffers in the process. It’s more of an action movie than zombie opus, but sadly, it’s a pretty unexciting action movie.
The Upside: The line about the Pope is funny and fairly genius; plot is more detailed than typical zombie flick; midget Hitler
The Downside: Green-screen driving scenes look terrible and take up roughly twenty minutes; CGI blood and splashes on invisible walls; one bloody zombie bite in entire movie; underwhelming ending; characters are weak; hints at some potentially cool developments but does nothing with them
Check out all of our Another Hole In the Head Film Fest coverage here.