Thursday, December 6, 2007


Professional fighters know that when they step into the ring they're going to experience a considerable amount of pain; it's an unavoidable part of what they do and they accept it. Similarly, I knew going into this blog experiment that I'd be sitting through more than my share of painfully bad movies I'd never watch otherwise. Case in point, the 2000 Canadian release FLESH FREAKS, which will soften the ol' gray matter better than 12 rounds with Sonny Liston.

Written and directed by Conall Pendergast, this student film masquerading as a feature starts off with Barry (Pendergast, hiding behind the alias Ronny Varno), a college student from the Great White North returning from a traumatic experience in Belize (though thanks to his abominable acting, Barry hardly seems perturbed, much less traumatized). Barry was part of an archaeological expedition of a Mayan ruin and it seems Barry has somehow brought back . . . well, Pendergast never tells us, but it's causing zombies to pour out of the woodwork. (So I guess it doesn't matter that a university professor is experimenting with the effects of radiatiation on cadavers, since the undead were going to be crawling around campus anyway; seriously, pick a catalyst for your little zombie attack and stick with it.)

Watching this movie I got the impression that Pendergast's mother was the type of parent that would gush over every tiny thing li'l Conall did, like displaying his childhood doodles on the refrigerator as if they were works of art, leading him to believe that the film-going public will be just an enthused about his cinematic endeavor. The movie creeps along at an interminable pace, with very little action or interesting characters to hold any interest (Pendergast also falls prey to the belief that meaningless small talk constitutes realistic dialogue--did he go to the same film school as the ZOMBIE CAMPOUT people?). The "traumatic" Belize expedition looks more like an overgrown bike trail than a forbidding jungle--though sadly, it was actually filmed in Belize, as if Pendergast thought what the movie needed to work was stock footage of lizards and turkeys--yes, that's right, wild jungle turkeys--and not a genuine story or a cast with an iota of talent.

Hell, the movie can't even supply any decent gore, going for either a red fadeout or liberally-splattered food coloring during the zombie attack scenes (oh, and another thing: a cheap plastic fan won't shred someone's face, even if they are a zombie). The climactic assault is just as boring as the preceeding hour, with laughably bad puppets and extras in godawful make-up limping after the remaining actors. The plot also tries to throw in a last-ditch twist, explaining the undead as part of some kind of alien invasion, but this desperate contrivance is just as stupid and uninspiring as the rest of the film.

Not even bad enough to make fun of (at one point it tries to be clever by giving a character some modified dialogue from PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, which doesn't sound any worse than any other line in this movie), FLESH FREAKS is a horrible non-movie that's simply not worth sitting through.

But I betcha Mrs. Pendergast loved it.

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