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Eaters: Rise Of The Dead DVD review

REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS

Uwe Boll picks a winner with this very promising zombie road-movie...

Eaters: Rise Of The Dead (2010)

The end of the world: Italy. First the women died, then nearly everyone else died - and then, they began to come back...

You know the scene. The dead walk, the survivors are few, and to make things worse, they're all male. In an obscure corner of Italy, zombie hunters Igor (Alex Lucchesi) and Alen (Guglielmo Favilla) provide undead test subjects for the experiments of the rather twitchy research scientist Gyno (Claudio Marmugi). Gyno's main lab-rat, however, is Alen's girlfriend Alexis (Rosella Elmi), the only female not to have been entirely 'zombified' during the Great Epidemic - and perhaps the only chance of a cure and potential future for mankind.

Eaters: Rise Of The Dead (2010)Meantime, more zombie-fodder is needed, and our heroes are sent out to the walker-infested 'Sector F', far from base camp, to retrieve more subjects. It's a long and winding journey through post-apocalypse Italy that will take in a strange mix of communities and eccentric individuals, including a painter who's willing to swap beer for body parts to immortalise and a bizarre Nazi community led by a fascist dwarf.

Trouble lies ahead when the guys discover a healthy living girl who may provide part of the answer as to how the apocalypse came to be - and what exactly the mysterious Gyno is really up to back in the lab...

The arrival of yet another low-budget zombie movie is never going to be a cause for celebration at Shadowlocked, because we've all been burnt too often: this genre of film has gone from famine to glut ever since 2004's Shaun Of The Dead, with ever-diminishing returns. Gems, God knows, are rare. Eaters is such a gem.

The Canon 7D - the camera used to shoot 'Eaters'

This movie is more fun than a barrel of tar-zombies. It was shot with this camera (it's not even a movie camera) for a budget that the directors describe as below that of the average wedding video (and I don't think they are exaggerating). The make-up effects are nonetheless mostly very good, and most of the few CGI effects - with the exception of a couple of particularly ambitious shots - are passable to good.

Eaters: Rise Of The Dead (2010)None of this matters, because, in spite of the degenerate DNA Eaters shares with George Romero's underrated Day Of The Dead, this really is only a 'zombie movie' for marketing purposes. In truth Eaters is a picaresque Italian post-apocalypse road/buddy movie that centres on the very engaging central relationship between the loud-mouthed and wisecracking Igor and his gloomier hunting-buddy Alen.

Alex Lucchesi is compulsive viewing; a splice between Rip Torn and Ron Perlman, Lucchesi has that blend of spaghetti western pragmatism and cynical humour that's a rare find in a movie of any budget, and the chemistry between his braggadocio and Favilla's laconic unrest provides a perfectly-balanced double-act on which to hang some engaging travels and some bizarre characters and sights.

The humour is pitch-black, the gore plentiful enough for the avid zombie-movie collector and the movie proceeds along at a brisk pace with a dark sense of voyeurism borrowed from classics like Escape From New York and Mad Max. To boot, this is one of the rarer zombie movies (can we really count 28 Days Later and I Am Legend?) that not only attempts to explain what caused the zombie apocalypse, but makes it integral to the plot.

You may well have spent more money on your last holiday than went into the entire budget of Eaters - don't expect a Weta Digital-style vision of the future - unless this movie gets a well-deserved higher-budget remake. On the other hand, if you're one of the many who are potentially put off by Uwe Boll's sponsorship of the movie, don't be. Boll is only the distributor, and here he has either shown extraordinarily good judgement in favouring the young film-makers, or he just got lucky.

Yes, Eaters is in Italian, but for better or worse, you're probably not going to have your cultural knowledge much broadened by this blood-spattered, engaging and very promising early work from two film-makers of great promise, who provide more fun with their maxed-out credit cards than most zombie movies can furnish with 10,000 times the budget.

Extras:
A 30-minute documentary which reveals to us both the obvious energy and sense of fun of film-makers Marco Ristori and Germano Tarricone - and the obvious fact that the excellent Alex Lucchesi is pretty much playing himself in the movie!

Besides that, a trailer and a short VFX reel.

4 stars

Eaters: Rise Of The Dead is released on June 13th.


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