Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Another hunk of Akron-lensed hooey from director J.R. Bookwalter, 1993's OZONE isn't quite as bad as some of his other shot-on-video work (sort of like how a broken finger isn't as bad as a severed hand), but it's still a far cry from THE DEAD NEXT DOOR. A mishmash of the cop and horror genres, OZONE displays a little ambition, though its low budget and shaky craftsmanship prevent it from really taking off.

James Black--who almost has the chops to be above dreck like this--stars as a police detective on the trail of a dealer pushing a new drug called Ozone that turns its users into zombies. When his partner is abducted by Ozone addicts, Black picks up the search, a journey that takes some strange--but not strange enough--turns once he becomes injected with the drug himself.

Though it boasts some fairly solid production values (considering its budget and year of its release), OZONE suffers from so many avoidable pitfalls. Poor performances from the supporting cast don't help, particularly the unconvincing bad guys, but the biggest flaw lies in its plot. Dream sequences exist solely to showcase gratuitous effects (including the then-prevalent use of morphing technology), an overabundance of cop-movie cliches such as the maverick detective getting bawled out by the chief (some of these scenes feel intentional, but regardless they make watching the movie a chore), and some oddball subplots (such as the underground fighting ring where combatants fight each other with oversized pizza cutters). Throw in a drug kingpin that resembles one of Jabba the Hutt's Gammorrhean guards, and you've got a flick that tries too hard and delivers too little.

Filled with continuity errors--a half-naked Black escapes the fight club, only to round a corner fully dressed or zombies with makeup that never goes past their jawline--and other amateurish hallmarks, OZONE is a slow-paced, unintentionally humorous mess. I'm sure there are bad-movie completists who'll want to add this to their must-see lists, but I'd advise them to steer clear.

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