Tuesday, September 9, 2008


When George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD became an international success it quickly became one of the most imitated films of its time, copied by filmmakers the world over (in fact, most of the fun of watching something like, say, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is seeing how shamelessly it "borrows" from DAWN). Now, as the new millennium brings us a new DAWN OF THE DEAD it also brings us a new barrage of DAWN rip-offs; and if director Stephen C. Miller's 2008 offering AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION is any indication, the movies replicating Zack Snyder's film won't be quite as entertaining.

Shot on digital video, TRANSFUSION plays like a student film that inexplicably got picked up by Dimension's Extreme label. Derivative and hollow, it's primary concern is superficial gore and nominal thrills--a dumbed-down, splattery redux of Snyder's DAWN, moving the action from the mall to a college keg party--and even with such lowly goals it fails. Miller sticks with the fast zombies and rapid-fire editing, though in keeping with Snyder's style his end result is washed-out and cheap-looking, belying its amateur origins.

And while the film's visuals are lacking, they've got nothing on TRANSFUSION's screenplay, which trots out cliches from both zombie and teen films without a care for their staleness. Populated with stock characters you either want to see die or could care less if they do, it's a falsely kinetic slog through 75 minutes' worth of commonplace tropes, capped with a climax that consists of tired, trite exposition (and a return to the ol' undead super-soldier concept--you guys will never learn, will you?).

Oh, and if AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION wasn't punishing enough, it ends on a bullshit cliffhanger complete with a "To be continued . . ." title card. Yeah, I'll be waiting with bated breath for that one.

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