Thursday, March 27, 2008


Todd Sheets has been pumping out shot-on-video features since 1985, usually mind-numbing fare with titles like PREHISTORIC BIMBOS IN ARMAGEDDON CITY, though I've managed to avoid his work until now, when I got stuck watching his 1991 opus ZOMBIE RAMPAGE. (A quick check of my movies-to-be-reviewed list shows that I've got his ZOMBIE BLOODBATH trilogy coming up--Lord help me.) If there was a Wikipedia entry for wretched homemade videos--and there probably is--this turdburger should serve as the perfect template.

Between the shitty photography (a harsh reminder of the advances home video technology has made in the last fifteen years), the atrocious sound quality, and hacksaw editing, it was pretty damned difficult to figure out just what the hell this movie was supposed to be about, but what I was able to figure out--that is, when the actors weren't mumbling their lines or the wind wasn't blowing into the boom mike--is that the rampage is initiated when two rival gangs raise the dead as part of their ongoing war. Or they may have been avenging/paying tribute to a fallen member; it wasn't clear, and I really, really didn't care enough to go back to make sure. (Sheets also throws in a serial killer who stabs hookers with the elan of a minimum wage-slave and has absolutely no purpose in the story.)

I don't know where Sheets grew up, or what kind of upbringing he had, but I can safely assume that it was far, far away from the gang-ravaged inner city. Just about every aspect of this production is laughable, but this group of supposed badasses with their howl-inducing dialogue and thrift-shop wardrobe wouldn't stand a chance against the Jets and the Sharks, much less the living dead. There should, however, be some sort of prize for most miscast actor awarded to the leader of one of the gangs, a whiny little bitch in a suit and tie (?) who couldn't run a Taco Bell efficiently, let alone a street gang. Too bad this motley crew of losers doesn't provide enough lulz to make them watchable.

The zombie action is your typical Romero-inspired hijinx, shot with the same short-winded anti-intensity as the rest of the picture. (I'm not sure, but at one point I thought I saw a zombie mime--now there's a movie I'd like to review!) Sheets adds a "shocking" sequence in which a mother and her baby are accosted by the undead, who devour the infant in its carriage; when will filmmakers learn that killing a baby is probably the most desperate plea for notoriety possible, and you might as well wear a bright red cape that says I REALLY WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AS A TABOO-BREAKING AUTEUR. (For the record, that I know of, only J.F. Gonzalez has pulled off this conceit, in his novel SURVIVOR, and I pity the director who attempts to adapt it to film.) It's a cheap, easy ploy to get an extreme reaction from the audience without earning it, is what I'm taking forever to say.

ZOMBIE RAMPAGE announces its shittiness literally within its first few frames, which at least will save viewers the trouble of wasting their time with this crap, but even cine-masochists will find little here to have fun with.

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