Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm a big fan of anthology films, so I was really looking forward to Brian Clement's EXHUMED, a three-part feature released in 2003 that deals with the resurrection of the dead. Thematically ambitious, it nonetheless disappoints not only by being a mediocre picture, but it also never dares to fulfill the challenge it sets for itself.

After a brief, and needless, introduction by a cadaverous Serling surrogate we get into the first story, "The Forest of Death." Set during feudal Japan, it's a novel backdrop for a zombie tale, but the segment is hamstrung by poor acting and a thin plot with a weak resolution. Still, it's well-photographed, and it's nice to see a domestic DIY film shot in another language.

Faring about as well is the next installment, "Shadow of Tomorrow," a 1940's-set science fiction/detective mash-up that creates a great film-noir atmosphere but has an equally flimsy cast to go with it (especially its lead, a would-be hardboiled dame that delivers an awful performance). It too is a lightweight, disposable story, featuring one of the worst nightclub scenes in recent memory; it also has very little to do with the living dead, and capped with an abrupt ending, leading into . . .

"Last Rumble," the final segment, a post-apocalyptic juvenile delinquent tale that chronicles a war between vampires and werewolves, orchestrated for the government's enjoyment. Besides having absolutely nothing to do with zombies, it's easily the weakest portion of the film. Brimming with oodles of cut-rate gore, it plays like every other micro-budget action/splatter flick, with lame fight sequences and desperate, crass scenes of lesbian sex. It's also the least interesting of the three visually, looking cheap and tawdry instead of end-of-the-world bleak and gritty.

Clement ends EXHUMED with a weird epilogue that ties all three stories together, saddled with exposition as if were going out of style, but it adds nothing to the overall movie. If anything, it makes it even more confusing.

EXHUMED would've been more successful if it hadn't used its structure and various settings as window dressing, and actually explored them with some manner of depth. Hell, any one of these could've justified their own feature-length treatment. But by being as superficial as possible, Clement sabotages his chance of creating something unique.

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