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Eclectic DVD presents

Deadly Scavengers (2001)

Dr. Fielding: I'm sorry. You can't come to the lab right now. There's an experiment in progress.
Porter: What's all that noise?
Dr. Fielding: It's part of the experiment. I'll discuss it later.- Dr. Fielding (Stephen Jay Calvert), Porter (Vincent Bilanoo)

Stars: John Fallon, Eva DeSena, Heather Branch
Other Stars: Mark Shady, Melanie McGuire, Joseph Haggerty, Sylvan Moss, Tim Sullivan, Vincent Bilanoo, Stephen Ray Calvert
Director: Ron Ford

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, sexuality, gore)
Run Time: 01h:27m:14s
Release Date: 2002-08-13
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- C+C-C D-


DVD Review

I started looking at the glut of bad horror and sci-fi films that I see on a regular basis differently after watching the brilliant American Movie, the documentary of aspiring filmmaker Mark Borchardt and his attempt to get his low-budget horror film Coven made. I came away with a new respect for struggling directors working on shoestring budgets who are desperately trying to capture a vision that exists only in their mind, and I came to realize that even the most god-awful horror/sci-fi movie probably is someone's labor of love.

Which brings us to Ron Ford's killer bug flick, Deadly Scavengers, a film that is littered with just plain horrible acting and eye-rolling special effects. However, I couldn't help but think of Mark Borchardt and Coven as I watched this disc, and I wondered if Ford had the same kind of intended vision for his film, or if it was really supposed to be as bad as it appears. The disc lacks a commentary track, which either way would have probably been an insight into his intent; instead we're left with a film that is either intentionally funny or just badly made.

An isolated research lab is run by the paranoid Dr. Fielding (Stephen Jay Calvert), who is doing genetic research for a questionable pharmaceutical company. Fielding's research involves cockroaches, and somehow (it's never explained) the experiment results in a few man-sized bugs that have a taste for human flesh. When the lab is overrun, the pharmaceutical company sends in an army of mercenaries to clean up the mess before it can spread. The mercenaries are your usual mixed bag of assorted "specialists" (weapons, pyrotechnics, tracking), including a mysterious guy known as The Doctor, whose main weapon is (I kid you not) a bomb-tipped dart.

The story in Deadly Scavengers (which isn't that bad, in genre terms) would no doubt have been carried off better with a bigger budget, but director/writer Ford has to make do with what must have been very limited resources. He is stuck using the same bug effect shot a number of times, and its general tackiness is more apparent due to the amount of time it's used. When smaller roaches are shown scampering across a bloody corpse, the effect is so bad it makes the 1957 Bert Gordon classic The Beginning of the End look like a real-life nature film. The shaky camera inside the merc's camper, meant to simulate a moving vehicle, looks more like it was shot on the high seas, and may cause nausea in those viewers prone to sea-sickness.

For genre fans of blood, guts and skin, Ford supplies a lot of bug-induced gore in Deadly Scavengers, as well as a couple of sex scenes to try and liven things up a bit. The camp factor (intentional or not) is what might make this worth a look for low-low-budget aficionados.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: As with most self-respecting low-budget sci-fi horror films, Deadly Scavengers was shot on video, and the inconsistencies of that often unforgiving format are abundant here. Outdoor lighting levels are often quite harsh, resulting in colors that come across unnaturally, with fleshtones that occasionally turn bright white. There aren't really any exceptional moments, in terms of image quality, and the entire film just looks cheaply made.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Eclectic has issued Deadly Scavengers with a PCM audio track, which unfortunately puts all of the dialogue into the left channel, and assorted ambient sounds out of the right. This creates a lopsided soundfield, but in all honesty doesn't detract too much from the low-budget wackiness. This isn't the kind of film that would have been helped by a better mix, though a more even distribution of the dialogue would have been nice.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are only 6 chapters on this disc, and they constitute the only "extras" here. Considering the campy tone of Deadly Scavengers, I can only imagine how enjoyable a cast commentary would have been.

Extras Grade: D-

Final Comments

Deadly Scavengers is a campy, low-budget sci-fi film about mutated, flesh-eating roaches and a group of gun-toting mercenaries. The story itself is an interesting enough genre tale, and could have probably become a decent B-movie with a larger budget. The restraints of money unfortunately keep this one from being anything other than silly, laugh-in-your-beer entertainment.

Rich Rosell 2002-08-12