Media Blasters // 2005 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 24th, 2006
If I were a bloodthirsty zombie, I suppose I'd head for the nearest women's prison as well.
Tony Todd, the dude from Candyman stars as Shadow, a supernaturally evil criminal who comes back to life and menaces a pile of half-naked female prisoners with his zombie friends.
When Solitaire (Carla Greene) walks into the rehabilitation women's prison, she knows not what awaits her. Choosing to keep to herself, and living up to her name, she tries to make it through the daily shower-times as unscathed as possible. Too bad, Mondo, the big kahuna in gen pop is protective of her turf. She sees Solitaire as a threat, and continually tries to mess with her, despite Solitaire's mad skills with the kung fu.
The beatdowns catch the attention of the warden and her pissy chief guard, and Solitaire is often sent to solitary confinement to cool her heels. But clashes with fellow inmates and the occasional slap across her face will prove to be the least of Solitaire's worries. She senses a big bad evil stirring within the prison, and fears that whatever it is may be coming back to do some serious damage.
Here instincts serve her well. The prison is indeed cursed. Years ago, an evil hombre named Shadow was about to be executed, when he started working some Hellish mojo. Whatever he had going on, it affected the prisoners, who immediately flipped out and started rioting. The guards were forced to shotgun them all to death and toss the bodies into a mass grave (is that consistent with state regs?).
Now, two decades later, Shadow is poised to return, and bring with him an army of undead prisoners to terrorize the current occupants. But for Solitaire, there is an even more sinister link and she will find herself the personal mission of Shadow himself. It will take all of her martial arts prowess, as well as some hideous special effects, to take down the zombie horde.
Here's what Shadow: Dead Riot is: a really crappy, tongue-in-cheek zombie splatterfest women-in-prison film with some stilted martial arts sequences jammed in there too. If that description doesn't murder your brain cells, I'll wager you won't be terribly disappointed by what's here.
Let's unpack this flick, and see how it measures up with our desired excesses, shall we?
Look, this flick is tiny-budgeted and sports some really cheesy effects. There's a demonic baby that plays a pivotal role in the film (see more about this below), which is obviously just an unmoving plastic prop. Director Derek Wan doesn't even try to bring that thing to life! The acting is poop-laden across the board, with Carla Greene delivering her lines with the charisma of a cord of firewood and Tony Todd hamming it up like a crazy man. Finally, the story is dispensable, a variation on pretty much every other zombie film -- but to be fair, the narrative serves only as a way to bring on the zombies and the blood and guts. And the less said about the special effects, the better.
This is not a serious horror film, and that right there is one of the flick's saving graces. When that baby hits the screen (channeling the demon kiddo from Dead Alive), Shadow kisses it hard horror credibility bye-bye. From the bizarre moment when the baby's mom "Preggers" gives birth in the middle of the prison field (conveniently right over Shadow's grave who soaks up the after-birth and reaches through the ground and grabs the kid), to scene after scene of this baby flying through the hair chomping throats, this little bastard brings welcome levity to what could have been a tedious ninety minutes.
While there is a fair amount of goop in the run up to the zombie assault (most notably a blood-vomiting scene and the aforementioned birthing sequence), the first hour largely sets the stage for the decomposing marauders and their sinew-soaked final third. When they do run loose, the filmmakers unleash the Karo syrup and apparently every prosthetic device they could get their hands on. Gorehounds should enjoy these proceedings, despite the relatively low quality of the effects.
There are many not-quite-attractive women who walk around topless and take showers together.
"stilted martial arts sequences"
A big deal is made of how the film's fight scenes were done by Leung Siu-Hung, who worked on Enter the Dragon and Legend of Drunken Master. While I won't deny this guy's skills, there's only so much one can do with actors who aren't up to snuff. Seeing two uncoordinated women swinging rakes at each other does not wow me.
Shadow: Dead Riot enjoys a 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with some weird color saturation. Colors alternated between super-bright and washed-out, especially with respect to skin tones. But that blood sure was red! A quiet 5.1 surround mix is outshined by a louder 2.0 stereo track. A decent 16 minute behind-the-scenes feature joins a photo gallery and some trailers in the extras department.
This movie is ridiculous and corny, but soaked in fluid and goofy, over-the-top gore sequences. Is it worth tracking down? Maybe. I think it can provide a night of fun for the right audience (read: teenage boys suffering from the effects of lead paint).
The movie sucks, but the court is willing to look the other way on account of that crazy baby.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Making-of Feature
* Photo Gallery