Mobsters Can’t Stomach EVIL in “Witness Infection” reviewed! (Freestyle Digital Media / Digital Screener)

Two rival mafia families are moved mistakenly into the same small California city as part of a Witness Protection Agency relocation.  In order to avoid an all-out territory war between the two sides, who are already busting at the seams of confrontation, the two families devise an arranged marriage of peace between one kingpin’s beautiful daughter and another’s withdrawn from the family business son, Carlo, who rather work as a dog groomer with his friend Gina, but when a new sausage food truck starts selling out of their popular menu items with tainted ground meat, the overstuffed and gastrointestinal suffering customers turn into blood hungry zombies running rampant on the streets.  After Carlo and his friends nearly escape the clutches of an angry mob boss after refusing his daughter’s hand in marriage, his troubles didn’t end there as they must now trek through the zombie-infested town and battle hordes of the undead to save his own flesh and blood before they down a family size portion of contaminated Italian sausages and meatballs. 

Mafia families and the undead go together, right?  The two factions clash in a Guido versus zombie horror-comedy “Witness Infection” from a script by Nickelodeon-animation voice actor, Carlos Alazraqui, who had entertained many mid-thirty-something-year-olds in voicing Rocko from “Rocko’s Modern Life” and comedy writer Jill-Michele Melean of the “Zombie Marriage Counseling” shorts and “MADtv”.  At the helm is director Andy Palmer who, in the past, directed generically titled B-horror flicks with familiar names and faces, such as Courtney Gains (“Children of the Corn”), Danielle Harris (“Halloween 4 & 5” franchise), Robert Englund (“Nightmare on Elm Street”), and Clint Howard (“Evilspeak”).  For the pun-driven “Witness Infection,” Palmer finds much of his muses elsewhere in the form of voice actors exposing themselves (in a non-perverted way, you sickos!) for a mezza morta borgata!  Voice talent, ranging from “The Boondocks,” to the “Extreme Ghostbusters,” to the original “Inspector Gadget,” run in unison with an over-the-top bambino in the zombie cache, arranging a small time hit of laughs and gasses with some respectable gore moments submerged in the bloody sauce.  Produced by Alazraqui, Melean, and Warner Davis, co-owner of Petri Entertainment with Andy Palmer that serves as production company alongside Mob Goo Productions. 

Robert Belushi, yes, that iconic and distinct surname is the one and the same of his father Jim Belushi, stars as Carlo, a disinterested mob family son who wants nothing to do with organized crime and wants everything to do with living a normal, loving life.  The narrative plays into Carlo being protected by his mob boss father by shielding him from the unsavory and cutthroat dealings of mafia life, but when his father can no longer protect his dog grooming son, Carlo is thrust into an arranged marriage with the daughter of a rival family.  Belushi isn’t his father and doesn’t have the wily charm that can snap into macho in an instant; instead, the “Devil’s Due” actor enacts a softer side in a story crowded full of uncouth wise guys. Carlo is also a man caught between two worlds as a man who would do anything for family, but also standing up for his convictions and Belushi connects with Carlo’s tug-a-war discord. Jill-Michele Melean writes herself a character in Gina, Carlo’s pet grooming colleague studying to be a veterinarian. Gina’s the insinuated love interest championing Carlo’s fateful decision. Melean mixes chummily stepping into the love interest role who then characteristically goes into a tailspin arc to be in one instance frightened by a severed deer head but then okay with bashing the head’s in of undead acquaintances in the next. Together, the chemistry between Belushi and Melean felt flat with a more of a friendship zone interplay. Granted, “Witness Infection” doesn’t flaunt a range of emotional drives to feed off of in a clearly spaced three act story of assertion in not participating in an arranged marriage, a bar stronghold attack, and a race back home to save his family from deadly digestion and concluding with what’s finally a big spark between Gina and Carlo in their, what once, platonic relationship. Casting also stars an unforgettable comedian lineup beginning with this actress’s voice you know, but who you’ve rarely in Tara Strong (“Extreme Ghostbusters”), the versatile Maurice LaMarche (“Inspector Gadget”), the multitalented Carlos Alazraqui (“Rocko’s Modern Life”), one part comedian and one part break dancer Bret Ernst (“Cobra Kai”), and rounding out with Vince Donvito, Erinn Hayes, and Monique Coleman as the foxy anti-token, anti-trope black woman who won’t be just another unnecessary death in another horror movie.

What first popped out at me is “Witness Infection” using severe flatulence as a goofy symptom of turning into a boil-laden and baggy-eyed zombie.  An immediate turn off by the fart and poop gags after eating the tainted sausage that pays a disparaging homage to Jersey’s cultural culinary cuts of meat has the viewing pleasure be huffed at at the thought of getting through yet another zombie film using passing gas to get a comedic rise.  Luckily, and to my surprise, the initial buildup of the outbreak happens all at once, like a switch being turned on, and then the conventional chaos of zombie madness ensues and farting is left in the wind.  However, “Witness Infection” only garners a few chortles in a flat and tired banter and slapstick comedy.   Much can be said the same about the rest of the story that has Carlo, Gina, and cousin Vince go through what feels like a redundant motions of survival action against a mass creature attack, such as an assault on a bar stronghold where they encounter a blaxploitation vixen, Rose, in a fully-fledged satirical scene that barely cups the intended result with an unnecessarily pitstop with heavy exposition that brings no motivation to the characters.  Not all fails to impress as the clash with the undead dependably aggressive, especially when James Ojala’s special effects poke through with an eye-catching overly violent money shot.  Ojala, who has worked on “Dead Birds” and “Thor,” delivers a really impressive head-ripping decapitation scene involving a toilet seat and lots of blood.  The only downside to the scene is that most of it hit the cutting room floor, leaving only a milliseconds of material to be left in awe.  Though the zombies snarl asynchronously loud with the action and sound like one of the Tiger King’s famished big cats, the makeup is economically slicked on but does the job nonetheless. 

Strong, eclectic performances and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gore keeps Andy Palmer’s “Witness Infection” as a bat-swinging, deer-eating, head-smashing horror-comedy not to miss, capisce!  Freestyle Digital Media distributes the film come March 30th on Video-on-Demand and on Digital HD platforms, such as iTunes and Google Play, with a runtime of 82 minutes.  A Panasonic EVA 1 camera was used to shoot the film under the cinematic eye of Filip Vandewal’s stabilizing safe mode approach by not being too adventurous with the camera work, but there are some nicely framed scenes that pull together the actors during confrontational and down to the earth moments with a prime example being Carlo and his father running through the stern discussion, for the first time, of arranged marriage with a rival crime boss’s daughter who is dating his brother but because his brother is sterile, he can’t have children, ergo an heir to the mafia family.  Along with the solid acting from Belushi and despite some continuity mistakes in the scene, the backdoor being open and also being closed then back to open again, the blunt pleasantries that captures firm love between the two of them is sincerely present.  As far as bonus scenes go, there were zero bonus scenes during and after the credits.  “Witness Infection” chips away at the zombie genre’s plodding wall with a pin hammer dink by stirring in Mafioso drama and diabolical flashes of gore.   

EVIL is a Giant Cockroach Trying To Bite Your Head Off…Man! “Love and Monsters” reviewed! (Paramount / Blu-ray Review)

For seven years, monsters have ravaged the human race to nearly extinction after nuclear nations destroyed an planet killing meteor in space, but the radioactive debris that fall back to Earth mutated the smallest creatures into monstrous killing machines.  Humans have been divided into colonies forced into underground bunkers.  Joel Dawson has been barely surviving with bunk mates who see him as a liability in his inability to act when faced with a monster situation and has been unable to connect, romantically, with another person.  When Joel discovers his high school sweetheart is 85 miles away in another colony, Joel decides to leave the bunker safe haven and journey across the dangerous surface for seven days for the sole purpose of love.  Forced to face his fears and adapt to survive a perilous land full of giant centipedes, hungry massive toads, and a crusty crab the size of a two story building, Joel must rely on his instincts and the help of rule-following topside survivors to see again the girl he thought he lost.

Add “Love and Monsters,” a monstrously romantic creature feature, right up there with “Warm Bodies” as this decade’s version of horror and love dancing the tangled tango in this kill or be eaten comedy-love pursuit directed by Michael Matthews.  The 2020 release is Matthews’ sophomore directorial from a script co-written between Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson off a Duffield’s original “Monster Problems” script.  Duffield is best known for penning last year’s water leviathan success, “Underwater,” starring Kristen Stewart, with “Monster Trucks’” Robinson coming aboard to finesse the grand adventure mechanism that makes “Love and Monsters” a singular trek through heart-thumping terrorland.  The Canadian production filmed in the amalgam terrain of Australia is produced by Dan Cohen and Shawn Levy, who both know a thing or two about doomsday premises in producing Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the Denis Villeneuve sleeper sci-fi first contact film, “Arrival,” under 21 Laps Entertainment in association with Entertainment One and Paramount Pictures distribution in North America.

A singular journey of bushwhacking and survival falls upon the shoulders of a young man who hasn’t yet transitioned to be an adult. From the time he was 16 years old, Joel Dawson knew love, but didn’t know how to fend for himself when life gets tough….really tough, like, full of carnivorous creatures in an end of humanity and heading to extinction tough. Yet, as adults, we thrive on challenges as our brains have learned to adapt with each new level of adversity and obstacle. For Joel, being stuck in the past, reliving a swift romance, has suspended him in nowheresville as he struggles to find love and age-appropriate interaction with of his kind peers. Dylan O’Brian captures Joel’s inability to see the clearly world around him because, literally, he hasn’t seen or experienced the world for about a third of his young life. Portrayed early on in young adult fiction with his feet firm in the heartthrob remake of “Teen Wolf” television series and coming out of adapted for film “The Maze Runner” trilogy, O’Brien discovers that being feeble and lonely can be just as powerful as being a werewolf or a dystopian survivalist; instead, O’Brien up-plays the quirky, quick-witted, outcast with delusions about his solitary and unpopularity as he finds fortitude by trekking seven days through a monster-riddled hell to rekindle his relationship with Amiee, the last person he personally felt a connection to who hasn’t been squished under the foot of a Granddaddy Long Leg. “The Head Hunter” and “Underwater” star, Jessica Henwick, retunes her vocal chords to present her best American English accent in order to be Joel’s live-or-die love interest, if she hasn’t changed in the last seven horrible years. Yet, before Joel and Amiee reunite in what’s a finger-crossable moment of love again at first sight, the meek Joel Dawson needs to go through, what half the monsters outside have already gone through, is a metamorphosis of sorts to be bigger, tougher, and more self-reliant. This is where MCU alums, Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Ariana Greenblatt (“Avengers: Infinity War”) step in. As Clyde, Rooker’s the Bear Grylls of monster land, knowing all the tips and tricks of topside survival all the while sporting a Richard Simmons perm, whereas Greenblatt, as the orphaned Minnow traveling in companion with Clyde, is just rugged despite her pintsize. “Love and Monsters” really focuses on these four individuals that mainly perpetuate only one of them, Joel, to be the best survivor he can be at the bottom of the food chain, but other minor characters do arise and nudge brash action that requires the solidity of an unbroken community chain. Dan Ewing (“Occupation”), Ellen Hollman (“Asylum”), Pacharo Mzembe, Tre Hale, Senie Priti, Amalie Golden, and “The Road Warrior’s” Bruce Spence makes a cameo appearance as Old Pete.

What I find interesting about “Love and Monsters,” that’s more prevalent in most post-apocalypse themed plots, is the lack of dog-eat-dog between humans.  While the story mainly skirts around the concept with a running gag that the real reason Joel left his colony is because he’s a no-good food stealer, Joel’s interactions with his and Amiee’s colonies, plus in his travels with Clyde and Minnow, showed no sign of deception or greed, a rare and humbling dynamic when starved, weary, and scared people are backed against a wall and cutthroat advantages are at arm’s length; instead, a real sense of community and compassion is committed that brings a sense of hope, not for just Joel in a world conquered by monsters, but for also audiences with pessimistic views about the volatility of man.  Even with all the fears of A.I hostile takeover, tender moments of man face-to-face with machine seals that threat into inexistence as Joel comes across a damaged MAV1S unit, an anatomical automaton built for servicing humanity, borders that plane of complex human emotions with all the right things to say and able to read what Joel needs to here to keep him moving in a sacrificial scene of the androids’ last hurrah before complete battery drain.  “Love and Monsters” doesn’t do a complete withdrawal from the hypodermic needle of inhuman poison, but the concept is certainly not the emphasis.  With a title like “Love and Monsters,” you want the monsters to be, at the very least, half of the story, as promised, and we’re treated to a slew of different monsters with different personalities and with different innate weapons. Not all the monsters are blood thirsty. Some are gentle, but judged for their immense size and scary physical attributes and Matthews points this important theme out in a trope about-face, signifying that just because this is a monster movie, doesn’t mean all monsters have been unjustly deemed vicious and terrorizing. In a way, these monsters parallel in being judged just as inaccurately as Joel is by his survivalist peers without so much as the benefit of the doubt and only when a trust evolves from out of being scared is when judgements wash away with sheltered conventional thinking. Diminutive inside a fantasyland of behemoth horrors, “Love and Monsters” has a tremendous heart with an interpersonal message about understanding connections with people inside the mixed-messaged confines of coming into adulthood.

If we don’t nuke ourselves out of existence first, the lifeforms underneath the soles of our shoes will gladly seize dominance for an easy, human-sized, snack in Michael Matthews’ “Love and Monsters” now released on Blu-ray plus digital, as well as 4K Ultra HD and DVD, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. The PG-13 action-adventure creature feature is presented in high definition, 1080p, widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Australia is already a futuristic land of gorgeous overgrowth and untouched wonder, Lachlan Milne trades in the practical (zombie horde) aesthetics of “Little Monsters” to a transcending larger types of monsters to scale an open world environment to eventually be combined with post-production visual effects of Kaiju-sized myriapods, crustaceans, and amphibians to just name a few. Award winning VFX company, The Mill, has seamless and organic creations that blend truth and deception with the scariest of ease as creatures explode out of the ground or lumber above head with no angle left uncovered or underdeveloped in giving audiences unmistakable visuals of our nightmares. The English language 7.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is the epitome of well balanced with clear dialogue, a complimentary soundtrack, and a long range and diverse depth of sound engineered monsters being monsters from low, sonorous gutturals to the high cracks and pops of creature movements. Inside a cardboard slipcover, The Paramount Pictures Blu-ray comes with a digital movie code to add to your digital movie collection to watch anywhere, but the release also comes with deleted scenes, a “Bottom of the Food Chain” featurette feature snippet interviews with the cast and crew, and “It’s a Monster World: Creating a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape” that dives into the natural preserve combined with production design to create the apocalypse illusion. Adventurously invigorating and outside the norm of telling story patterns, “Love and Monsters” romanticizes the post-apocalypse with a self love theme in a hope-inspiring and fun creature-crammed monster movie.

Blu-ray of “Love and Monsters.” Click poster to purchase at Amazon.com!

Pass or Fail Weekend is Evil’s Playground. “Camp Twilight” reviewed! (DarkCoast / Digital Screener)

On the verge of failing and having to repeat a grade, six students are given the opportunity to spend one technology free weekend at Camp Twilight with their homeroom teacher, Ms. Bloom, and principal, Mr. Warner, as chaperones.    Planned with a series of outdoorsy, bonding activities, the weekend will serve to boost their grades to the cutoff line for graduating and, for some, maintaining their spot on the high school sports teams.  A local urban myth has haunted the camp’s reputation based off a grisly scene of murders a few years back, but the revamped park now serves as a community safe zone overseen by three dedicated, and also quirky, park rangers:  Art, Bob, and Chief Tom.  On a weekend where none of the students wanted to attend, forced by the threat of academic failure, an ominous figure revives the camp’s notorious past as one-by-one campers, teachers, and park rangers fall victim to a hooded killer’s impulse for blood.

Summer camps and masked serial killers are as synonymous as the vast ocean is with the dreadful thought of man-eating sharks.  “Friday the 13th, “Camp Blood,” and “Sleepaway Camp” have made a fortune and a franchise off the backs of the hapless summer campers, hacking and slashing away at the pre-martial sex crazed, the love struck wimps, and the overconfident jocks to build a flawless, ultimate killing machine series.  Will director Brandon Amelotte’s debut slasher, a horror-comedy entitled “Camp Twilight,” claim stake in the genre being the next persevering serial killer franchise?  For starters, the USA-made, indie feature releasing later this month has a leg up with “Sleepaway Camp” scream queen Felissa Rose headlining a cast that also includes a few other genre favorites as well as co-written the script with Amelotte.  Shot on the grounds of the palm tree lined Markham Park, “Camp Twilight” trades in mountain bike trails, disc golf, and it’s outdoor weapons range for machetes, lots of machetes, and is a product of Rick Finkelstein and Brandon Amelotte’s Florida based Entertainment Factory productions and, also Amelotte’s, Pelican Films.

As mentioned, genre icon Felissa Rose ditches the awkward teenage camper from the finale traumatizing “Sleepaway Camp” for a hyped-up, goody two shoes high school teacher in Ms. Bloom.  The top billed Rose brings the energetic know-how of her fully present, larger than life, broad range persona who audiences will never know exactly where her character stands until it’s lethally too late!  Rose is joined by more fresh faced, incredibly automaton co-stars in the roles of the six students and principal, played by the executive producer Barry Jay Minoff.  Minoff and Rose are supposed to be a couple concealing an affair, hiding their lustful courtship very poorly around the students, but both roles are completely under written, unexplored, and unfulfilling in the grand scheme of their pivotal plot point.  Little can be said differently about the students with a range of interrelationship intricacies that tried to be fleshed out as psychological terror triggers in lieu of their already conventional teenage sensitivity struggles.  There are other cult genre vets alongside Rose but in minor, more cameo-esque roles.  Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”), Camille Keaton (“I Spit On Your Grave”), and Vernon Wells (“Innerspace”) add more or less star power to the fold, supplementing virtually nothing to the narrative but campy slasher fodder for fans to gobble up.  More impressively is Dave Sheridan bringing forth a version of “Scary Movie’s” loveable dimwitted cop, Doofus, with Ranger Bob, adding a great deal of the substantiated comedy toward “Camp Twilight’s” campy ebb and flow.  Cougar MacDowall, Thomas Haley, Hayleigh Hopkins, Harris Sebastian, Dondre Tuck, Brooklyn Haley, and Steven Chase, with “Truth or Dare’s” Jessica Cameron and Sport’s Illustrated model-turned-film producer, Tracy Lear, filling out the troupe lineup.

I wish I could say that “Camp Twilight” is a campsite of entertainment, a paradisal slasher of genius design, offering up a new breed of deranged psychopathy to the likes we’ve never seen.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of Brandon Amelotte’s derivative and tired trope-laden slasher rippled with loose and forgotten subplots and characters while at the same time being a heap of longwinded exposition that still way after viewing can’t fully explain the turbulent core of the story.  I hate to knock anything Felissa Rose touches, but I would be doing an injustice and a disservice if I tried to play up a slack script that starts off picturizing a campy horror-comedy but plays out the third act with critical revelations without a hint of funny bone material. The kills follow the trend of a lighthearted horror comedy, albeit the pelting of F-bombs, with “Camp Twilight’s” holdall of off screen deaths, barely scratching the surface with on screen kills rendered only by closeups, and not particularly bloody, intense, or nearly as menacing by a black hooded killer in jeans creeping up on prey in a well-lit campground with lots of room to run. The same company, Entertainment Factory, behind the horror icon drenched disappointment, “Death House,” should have been a clue into “Camp Twilight” critical success, but much like the “Death House,” both films are a totality of mess.

Not a fan of the outdoors? Hate bugs, snakes, and all things that go bump in the night? Does your fear of an unclear, inaccessible toilet seize you up? DarkCoast has you covered with their digital release of “Camp Twilight,” arriving onto digital platforms come November 1st, 2020 – Day of the Dead. The release platforms will include InDemand, DirecTV, FlixFling, Vudu & Fandango. The A/V qualities will not be reviewed due to the digital screener provided for this new film release, but I will say much of the soundtrack sounds stock file-ish (and there is no composer listed which would be a dead giveaway) and the Adam Beck cinematography is too well-lit, benumbing any kind of intense emotions that would correlate with the action. There were no bonus features included with the release nor were there any bonus scenes during or after the credits. “Camp Twilight” plays into it’s own title as a dim denticulated slasher that’s far too breathy and far less spirited and so the question stands, will “Camp Twilight” be the next slasher hit to spawn a lengthy, decade spanning franchise? The answer is no.

When Life Hands You EVIL, You Make EVIL-ade! “American Zombeland” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


In Corsicana, Texas, Sam’s a zero-budget horror filmmaker whose trying to make it big in Hollywood, submitting every garbage zombie movie he can muster. When he receives a letter back from a film festival, he immediately calls for a party with all his friends and family in attendance, but the letter is actually a rejection letter, proving once again, that Sam’s still a filmmaking loser. In a stroke of turnaround events, an actual zombie apocalypse breaks out and the undead are knocking at his door. Jumping at the opportunity of top-notch, free special effects and a horde of zombie “actors,” Sam delegates his friends as the production crew, going out into a zombie infested Corsicana, Texas to shoot his legacy, non-Hollywood zombie epic.

If there was ever an American political and cultural lampooning zombie film, “American Zombieland” is it. Originally titled “Fat Ass Zombies,” the George Bennett written and directed horror-comedy nixes the original title, albeit keeping the rubric for Sam’s movie, and seemingly goes hot off the coattails of the Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg crowd-pleasing and long awaited sequel, “Zombieland 2: Double Tap.” As Bennett’s freshman directorial, he co-writes the feature with Christopher De Maria and Brave Matthews that’s has little to do with the loveably gory Ruben Fleischer riot. Instead, “American Zombieland” is a none-politically correct satirical farce that’s sticking a hard poker at red state, gun-toting conservatives and the morbidly obese American subsociety lifestyle, sporting the red, white, and blue as if being patriotically proud being 300+ pounds. Brother and sister, George and Karina Bennett, co-founded company, MagicBullet Media, and Summertown productions fund and serve as the production company.

As a running joke, the story continues to deface one of Sam’s zero-budget films, “Dead Beat Zombie Dad.” In reality, “Dead Beat Zombie Dad” is a zero-dollar budget short comedy by David Slayter who wore multiple hats in the cast and crew of “American Zombie” and was not, in fact, a film directed by MagicBullett Media executive product and lead actor of the film, Dave Mussen in his first horror-comedy performance as the downtrodden, piss-poor director Sam. Mussen’s resembles the average joe; he bares no chisel chin, he’s balding, and does a good enough job being a mediocre individual so pretending a hectored filmmaker for his obscene and schlocky small horror ventures didn’t perceive challenging. One of the more memorable characters is the flagrantly perverse, yet harmless Poppers, played by FX’s “The Bridge’s” Johnny Dowers. Dowers dons a Joe Exotic-like green dyed hairstyle, handlebar mustache, and a slippery slope into unfashionable redneck garb with a more than less-Tiger King pizazz. Dowers steals much of Dave Mussen’s scenes as an unforgettable caricature a grease monkey yokel. On the opposite spectrum is A.D. Johnson as Horatio, a tragic character not exactly from the same vain as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but deride a proper Englishman’s snide accent to be the ever condescending and stanch critic of Sam’s projects. “American Zombieland” cast and extras are vast, including Kristen Renton (“Xenophobia”), Samantha Walker (“Ghost Story Chronicles”), Bryan Handy, Stephen Archer, Sondra Currie, and Benjamin Chamberlain.

George Bennett and crew attempt a horror-comedy aimed at desensitizing and making light of beliefs and lifestyles. What results is a crude, rude, and painfully stale fly by the seem of the pants zombie ruckus on an average entertainment scale that relies heavily on poop and fart jokes, missing the mark of sarcastic repartee targeting misrepresentative patriotism embodied by big corps, big bodies, and big racism. “American Zombieland” ultimately is a big mess of a narrative with characters coming and going without a visual diagram, segues are muddled beyond the power of understanding, and, again, the ill-approached poop and fart jokes. “American Zombieland” is also a big F.U. to the uppity and disheartening inner workings of Hollywood and, in my opinion, this is where Bennett and “American Zombieland” excels, casting caution to the wind with an unorthodox, zomedy to be frank as possible and not really giving a care of what others think – my self more than likely included. Not everything in the film is unfunny or uninteresting, such as with a pothead’s vivid visual quest of an animated interjection of seemingly random bits of American identifiers, consumerism, and, again, poop and fart jokes; a scene that reminded me of the dessert hallucination/Rob Zombie music video segment from “Beavis and Butt-head Do America.”

“American Zombieland” is the anti-Hollywood, independent zombie-comedy brought to DVD home video by ITN Distribution and Millcreek Entertainment. The DVD is presented in an anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and features a steady natural lighting for much of the 1 hour and 28 minute runtime, not focusing on creative mattes or visual tweaks to up the ante. There are some impressively seamless drone ariel shots that exhibit little lag from the compression. Amongst a lot of the foreground focusing, skin tones look correct despite a minor softness in the detail and the night scenes are balanced out properly. Lastly, the visual effects are above par quality, the ariel shots of smoke and fire coming out of houses, the lawnmower death, and other visual sfx renders out nicely. The English Dolby Digital dual channel audio output has limitations, especially for a zombie film that powers it’s fear by the moans of the undead, but for what it is, the audiophiles are better than expected with a robust two channel mix. Dialogue is clear, soundtrack has range, and ambience is a bit overzealous…again, with the poop and fart jokes. Bonus features only include the trailer. Scatterbrained undead folly, “American Zombieland” is a rash whack of cultural farce without literally scattering brains, falling short of the intended meaning, and becoming tousled in it’s own jumbled message.

Only on DVD! “American Zombieland” at Amazon!

EVIL Waited 30 Years. Now It’s Unleashed! “Zombie Rampage II” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / DVD)


A zombie ravaged world divides survivors into gangs. In this case, two warring rivals, a group of decent folk versus cannibalistic savages, spar over little territory left untouched by the undead. Seeking tactical advantage, the contentious factions either scheme a plan for appropriating the land while the other recruits and trains an inexpert survivalist to better their odds against one another. Leave it to humanity to still be the most dangerous animal on Earth during a zombie apocalypse when an armed showdown opens the doors for death and the undead to wreak havoc on the best and worst parts of being human.

Full disclosure. I have never seen or even sought out Todd Sheets’ renown direct-to-video, zombie epic, “Zombie Rampage,” from 1989. So, when the opportunity came around to check out the sequel, “Zombie Rampage II,” presented on a Wild Eye Releasing DVD, I jumped at the chance to witness the anticipated follow-up despite the sequel not being steered by Sheets himself. The “Bonehill Road” director’s involvement extends to the credit of producer and co-writer of the aborted 1990 sequel, which had unearthed VHS footage repurposed for the 2019 release, while Alexander Brotherton makes his directorial and script debut the new material and Mike Hellman and Charles Gooseman, who were a heavily involved duo of the original discovered footage, are credited as co-directors. In the last few years, Brotherton’s been a staple of Sheets’ films in some skeleton cast and crew capacity from the satirically bonkers “Clownado” to the narcotically world toppling chaos of “Dreaming Purple Neon” and with full confidence in Brotherton, therein lies sanctions for the filmmaker to pay homage to the 1989 original with its own shot-on-video rendition that maintains that gritty VHS integrity, continuing to be a financial churned out by Todd Sheets’ production company, Extreme Entertainment, which has been goring out content since 1988 and that makes “Zombie Rampage” and “Zombie Rampage II” larger than life, honorary bookends to Sheets’ continued indie success.

Cast is comprised of Sheets’ entourage of actors and actresses, starting off with Antwoine Steele whose reprising the afro-sporting, smooth talking, lady loving, ass-kicking Durville Sweet from “Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon.” Steele steals the show with his indifferently foul mouth Sam Jackson approach that somehow manages to spin into a favorable personality trait. Another show stealer is Dilynn Fawn Harvey serving a plate of scantily-cladded roughness with the sexually suggestive Hot Stuff. Harvey jumps at the opportunity to show off her chest again while being the sultry lass who never has to be the dame in distress. Both Steele and Harvey are bigger than life on screen and that trend continues with other key players in Jack Mccord as the cross-dressed Mr. Hyde, leader of the cannibal gang, Eve Smith as an androgynous warrior for the good side, Jay Perkaple as the inept survivor recruit, and Skyler Roberts as a psychotic cannibal with a severed finger partner in crime. The supporting cast is made up of Daniell Bell, Carol Word, and Jenny McCarty.

“Zombie Rampage II” is a rough, SOV mix of black-to-satirical humor and a healthy amount of zombie carnage that isn’t a direct sequel. Don’t expect the carnage to be overwhelming complete and gory as the low budget bullet flatlines the realism of any kind of flesh-eating horde violence, but that lack of zombie realism is to be expected from the kitschy quality that seals in air tight the stank of the 30-year-old VHS predecessor. Yes, mistakes and miscues will be a natural condition of a penny-pinched film, such as a conspicuous train passing by in the background during a supposed zombie desolated world, fight sequences that will be hilariously and horrendously overstated, and the gore would be nothing more than quick explosive flashes of red matted paint and be about as Wharferin thin to the point of being limpid clear. Yet, what bothers me the most out of everything is the drifting flimsy and anorexic plot that initially emphases on finding Stewart and his assimilation into the gang of well-versed survivalist, but then grossly upends more for a battle of territory between gang one and gang two with a final showdown involving Durville swinging a colossally fluorescent, two-sided dildo as a num-chuk and the bashing of heads in with foam covered kids’ toy bat that you can purchase offline for $10. There’s a crude and abnormal sense of poetry in that scene involving an adult’s orifice stuffing sex toy with a children’s athletic plaything being combative instruments in the same scene, but for the sake of not going off on a tangent, “Zombie Rampage II” bares little plot growth that flaunts more tasteless humor than rampaging a zombie chorus and the destruction that leaves in it’s wake.

For fans sworn to be loyal acolytes of Todd Sheets, take a long, hard gander at “Zombie Rampage II” on DVD home video from Wild Eye Releasing on their Raw and Extreme banner. Those who’ve waited for a sequel will be pleasantly surprised in how the video presentation and quality are comprised of two similar but distinct formats with a letterbox 16:9 in the recently shot video that bookends the letterbox 4:3 footage from 1990. Both formats are heavily lossy in providing a detailed presentation and express vapid color that comes to not surprise inside a production value cost little-to-nothing at all. “Zombie Rampage II” definitely harks back to the demeanor of a shot on video film where quality is but an intangible illusion compared to the unfathomable gore that fills the quality caliber void, but to my shock, there is just not enough fake blood in the sequel to justify a purchase of a subpar quality pardon. The English language single channel stereo output caters to the same lossy conditions of a low bitrate amplitude with a stiffened dialogue track and poorly edited stock foley inserts. Again, all telltale attributes of an indie video recorded classic that’ll certainly get SOV and Todd Sheets’ fans rocks off. The only special feature amongst a model static menu available is the film’s trailer, but the visceral DVD cover, distributed by MVDVisual, has a milky eyed zombie grotesquely chowing down viscera that’s very poignant of a Raw and Extreme title and very welcoming, eye-catching package feature. There are bonus features before and after the feature with a fake trailer for “Durville Sweet and the Lost Temple of Ass Pirates” and bloopers during the rolling credits. “Zombie Rampage II” covers 30-years of ground, breaking the laws of time, and giving retrograde VHS and Todd Sheets aficionados what they want – blood, boobs, and butchery.

“Zombie Rampage II” on DVD!