E1 Entertainment // 2009 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard // August 26th, 2011
12 Million Fatalities In The Zone. Those Were The Lucky Ones.
They were the lucky ones alright-they didn't have to sit through Bio-Dead.
Following a biological attack, which has left twelve million people dead, a whole section of California has been rendered uninhabitable. Known as "The Zone," this wasteland is free of all life...or is it? A team of scientists is sent inside the zone to check on contamination levels and search for possible survivors, but something inside is searching for them.
Looking for a way to break up with your partner, but don't quite have the guts to do it? Simple. Buy your soon to be ex a copy of Bio-Dead, they'll soon get the hint, as nobody would knowingly let a loved one endure this tripe. In fact, even taking into account hardcore horror junkies, it's debatable whether many viewers will have the patience to sit through the opening half hour of Bio-Dead, which sees four members of a hazmat team search through a supposedly abandoned building in "The Zone." Apart from goofing around, disobeying direct orders, and ignoring protocol, absolutely nothing happens. Considering the movie only has a running time of 87 minutes, that's a whole lot of waste -- and that's just the first problem I have with the movie. That's right, folks, if you weren't already sure, this is going to be a negative review.
Clearly George A. Romero is a key influence on writer/director Stephen J. Hadden, as his 1973 film The Crazies informs both the movie's plot and tone -- but sadly not its quality. Make no mistake, Bio-Dead is poor. The dialogue-heavy screenplay sees characters utter nothing but f-bombs and gibberish, at least when they're not bringing up vital pieces of information at times that conveniently suit the plot. At one point, we learn there have been rumors of people going crazy on the borders of "the zone," just as the plot decides to finally introduce the feral humans that stalk the dark hallways. It wouldn't be so bad if the film didn't insult the viewer's intelligence at every turn. Early on a character is told not to use an elevator, so guess what they go and do anyway, and guess what's lurking inside it. Add to this standard horror rules being broken with gay abandon -- Who in the hell walks backwards into a darkened hallway or splits up to search an abandoned building? -- and the result is a tiring, predictable bore. Even when the film finally reveals the zombie-like creatures stalking the group, Bio-Dead insists upon using fast cuts and shoddy effects work, possibly in an attempt to distract the viewer from realizing just how uninspired it really is. When the movie shifts into more gory content during the final act, it does so not to serve the story, but rather -- one assumes -- to shock the viewer. Well, I've seen plenty of dismemberments in the movies, and though the effects work in Bio-Dead is actually quite impressive, it really adds nothing to the film overall. It feels like it has been shoehorned in as a way to conclude the lifeless narrative.
Hadden's direction lacks poise, but still shows signs of ability. Sadly some suspect shots, not to mention a complete lack of tension, ultimately prove fatal. The cast does little to raise itself above the rest of the DTV crowd, and struggle with the, admittedly poor, dialogue.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer has solid black levels but, due in part to the blue tinge the picture has, occasionally produces a rather muddy image that is on the soft side. Detail levels are generally okay though. The 5.1 soundtrack is rather flat, but dialogue at least remains clear throughout. Along with a commentary track, the DVD includes casting footage and interviews.
I've no interest in knocking the hard work of a young filmmaker, but likewise I can't possibly recommend anyone spend his or her hard-earned money on this DVD. Bio-Dead is a film lacking point or purpose. Avoid like the plague.
Do you really need to ask?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R