Image Entertainment presents
Die You Zombie Bastards! (2005)
"This movie you're about to see is really strange."- Hasil Adkins
Stars: Tim Gertsmar, Pippi Zornoza, Geoff Mosher
Other Stars: Hasil Adkins, Jamie Gillis, Jennifer K. Beal, Sadie Blades, Sandra Kennedy, Doug Williams
Director: Caleb Emerson
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, language, gore, violence)
Run Time: 01h:39m:56s
Release Date: 2007-01-16
DVD ReviewCarnival barkers are the guys with the steady stream of come-ons, the big chatter (known as "the pitch") that is supposed to pique your curiosity and pull you into that tent no matter what. Usually what's inside that tent bears only a shadow of resemblance to the barker's spew, but by that point you've paid your money and all you feel is duped. Die You Zombie Bastards! calls itself—right there on the front cover—"the world's first ever serial killer superhero rock'n'roll road movie romance", and if that's not the kind of high-concept hyperbole that would lure a guy like me to sit down with it, then nothing probably could.
That's a pretty grand statement to throw out there, and while this one tries to be Troma-like with its abundant shock-value and dark humor, the result is a film that doesn't know what to do with itself. Mixing elements like serial killers and superheroes and rock'n'roll all looks great on paper, but the execution is the real slippery spot, and writer/director Caleb Emerson (a Troma vet) seems to mistake bizarre excess with implied brilliance, as if all the gags in his head (or that of co-writer Haig Demarjian) just don't end up as funny once actually filmed.
Take a serial killer with a flesh cape, his cannibal wife, three perpetually nude sisters, a lizard man, an evil genius, zombies, a real-life rockabilly legend and a soundtrack with music by Butthole Surfer's Paul Leary. Somewhere in there is a plot—or at least something that is supposed to resemble one—as Emerson ladles up an exploding head or two and frequent bare breasts, using the time-tested Troma approach to filmmaking. The only problem here is that the whole thing feels very disjointed, with far more dead spots than salvageable bits.
And damn if it isn't all too bad the way it came out, because Die You Zombie Bastards! does indeed have a kind of reckless, balls out approach to telling what plainly wants to be a very demented story, crammed as it is full of weirdos, killers, and zombies. And of course, nude women. Strictly graded as a concept, this is a grand effort that just miscues more often than not when it comes to realization, where apparently most of those good conceptual intentions get lost or mishandled.
On the checklist of required components, all of the ingredients get screen time, but the little pieces never connect well enough. The moments of potentially inspired goodness—the Swedish bar scene, where our dark hero encounters a bevy of blondes—run up against far too many scenes that just run on too long, belaboring low-budget gore or overly hammy acting that isn't as fun to watch as I think the actors think it will be.
Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: You'd expect a low-budget title shot over a few years to possibly look a hinky in spots, and that's pretty much what happens with the 1.33:1 fullframe transfer on this one. Heavy grain, poor black levels and colors that waffle back and forth between almost natural and slightly anemic
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 stereo, and like the video side of things it's a little rough in spots. Dialogue is typically discernible without being especially noteworthy, though louder segments do tend to distort somewhat.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Caleb Emerson, Haig Demarjian
Extras Review: There's a decent amount of extras, though the quality is just so-so. Things kick off with a commentary track from writer/director Caleb Emerson and writer Haig Demarjian, and the two spill the beans on making a film on the cheap—and over a long period of time. It's interesting to hear how quasi-serious Emerson and Demarjian about the project, and their comments reveal quite a bit about their seat-of-the-pants filmmaking style.
Then come a pair of rambling Hasil Adkins interviews, entitled The Old Days (10m:21s) and Hasil's Favorite Movies (02m:54s). Adkins revelations are simultaneously bizarre, meandering and coherent, and one of the things I learned was that he likes just about every movie genre. I think.
The Behind The Scenes (40m:29s) chunk is split into 11 separate segments, viewable independently or via the Play All option, with the clips spanning August 2001 to November 2002. Also included is a thankfully brief ADR Sessions Fall 2003 (08m:09s) that showcases the rerecording of dialogue (over and over again), as well as Dark New England: An Interview With Caleb Emerson (10m:02s) allows the director another opportunity to expound on how this all came about
A couple of live musical numbers conclude the extras, with Sawzail performing Kill Kill at Redrum in Providence, RI July 2002 (04m:51s) and Demon Seeds uncorking Voodoo Spell at Ralph's Diner, Worcester, MA December 2005 (02m:50s). The Sawzail performance is the most intriguing of the two, what with all its crazy sax wailing and flaming bass guitar action.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsIt may have one of the greatest movie titles ever, but the flick itself is a grungy ball of bad acting, silly gore and minimalist production values that becomes tiring very quickly. Even with the frequent nudity.
Rich Rosell 2007-02-22