Judge Dylan Charles prefers an exfoliating scrub of ginger mint and werewolf entrails.
Unearthed! Unstoppable! Undead!
Todd Sheets, the director of The Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy, is out there making the kind of movies he wants to see and doing it on a budget that most likely wouldn't pay for my textbooks. He's out there doing what he wants to do, living the dream. And, for that, he has my respect. My hat's off to you Todd Sheets.
Facts of the Case
Zombie Bloodbath: Zombies break out of an underground nuclear power plant that was built on an ancient Indian burial ground. I think. It's only a matter of time before they overrun Kansas City. Our heroes will do what it takes to make sure the dead stay buried.
Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage of the Undead: An evil, Satanic scarecrow brings the dead back to life for some unknown—but assuredly evil—purpose. A group of college students and escaped convicts must join together to survive. Flesh-eating bacteria make a special guest appearance.
Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon: Government-created zombies from the future are inadvertently sent back through time and end up in the cellar of a high school. Meanwhile an actor and his sidekick are giving a martial arts demonstration upstairs and the school trouble makers are serving out their detention. Soon all Hell breaks loose when the zombies are set loose on the school. Think The Breakfast Club meets Dawn of the Dead.
There are one or two things that the Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy does right. There is plenty of gore. In all three movies, men and women are torn asunder. Hearts are torn from chests, intestines are devoured, and zombies melt as flesh-eating bacteria are thrown on them. I don't think I've seen so many shots of intestines being pulled out in my whole life. For flicks done on fairly low budgets, the effects look pretty damn good…Except for the C.G.I…Zombie Armageddon has a few computer generated shots that actually manage to bring down the overall quality of otherwise decent special effects. The opening sequence with a space shuttle zipping merrily through our pixel based solar system is painful in its cheesiness.
With each successive film, Mr. Sheets does a better and better job of pulling together a coherent plot and focusing the action where it needs to be focused. Zombie Bloodbath, the first in the series, is an unholy tangle of plotlines and characters. People disappear and appear with little to no explanation. It's not until about three-quarters through the movie that I was able to figure out just what was going on with the help of Daria (Kasey Raush), who arrived from nowhere and yet managed to give a detailed outline of just what in god's name had happened. Thank you Exposition Girl, the bright beam of light that lanced through the gloom.
Rage of the Undead also fumbles the plot-hole ball in a few places. But the biggest problem is the aforementioned flesh-eating bacteria. Our heroes, after surviving numerous attacks by the zombies, stumble across an abandoned pick-up truck. One woman looks for the keys inside, but instead finds a box filled with vials that contain flesh-eating bacteria (ya know, I never thought there'd be a time where I'd overuse the term "flesh-eating bacteria," but it looks like I've reached that limit). There's no explanation for why these vials are here. No reason given for why someone just left a heapin' helpin' of Bio Level 4 critters lying around. It's only through the director commentary that the mystery is explained, but by then, it's too late. Those of us who don't listen to director commentaries are left feeling saddened, hurt and cheated by a gruesome deus ex machina.
And I'm not even going to mention the Satanic scarecrow.
Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon made sense, more or less, from start to finish. No Satanic scarecrows, no mysterious vials of flesh-eating bacteria, no exposition girls running in from nowhere to explain everything…Just a weird little plot about zombies from the future making life a living hell for some high school students. Oh, and a zombie cyborg.
The funny thing is that I had more fun watching the first movie more than the others. While the second and third films are technically better made, they're also slower and focus on character development. While I'm not exactly against spending more time with characters before they're brutally eaten alive (the Dawn of the Dead remake is a good example of where more well rounded characters helped a great deal), I discovered that I didn't really want to spend that much time with the people in the Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy.
Zombie Armageddon in particular suffers from spending way too much time with fairly unlikable folks. The lengthy scene where the principal berates the upstart ruffian who looks like a goth wannabe, is just a rehash of better principal berating scenes from The Breakfast Club. And no one there is remotely as interesting as Judd Nelson or even Anthony Michael Hall.
The quality of the transfer is twitchy. They've been copied off of video and so sound and picture aren't top notch. Zombie Armageddon even has what looks like tracking errors in several places. There was also a problem with the two commentaries. Both times, the sound wasn't quite synced up with the video and Sheets was commenting on what was going to happen in a few seconds.
In spite of the problems though, I enjoyed hearing Mr. Sheets talk about his movies. Especially since he helped me understand just what was going on at times. If you want to know what goes into making low budget horror, then listening to the commentaries is a good place to start as he seems more than happy to pass on a few tips.
The behind-the-scenes featurettes lack any kind of organization and are a kind of stream-of-consciousness look at what happens on a Todd Sheets' set.
There's also a short film made by Todd Sheets in the late '80's that is…well, pretty bad.
Though it's the most flawed of the three films, Zombie Bloodbath 1 was the most fun to watch. It rolls by quickly and never really lets up on the terrible, terrible action. If you're looking for some awful, gorey, low budget zombie action, The Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy will satiate you. Just, for the love of all that is good and decent, do not watch them back to back to back in a single night. That path leads to madness.
The Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy is guilty of on-screen depictions of dismemberment, disemboweling and a disingenuous use of an abandoned pick-up truck.
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Scales of Justice, Zombie Bloodbath
Perp Profile, Zombie Bloodbath
Studio: Camp Motion Pictures
Distinguishing Marks, Zombie Bloodbath
• Zombie Bloodbath Feature Commentary
Scales of Justice, Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage Of The Undead
Perp Profile, Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage Of The Undead
Studio: Camp Motion Pictures
Distinguishing Marks, Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage Of The Undead
• Zombie Bloodbath 2 Feature Commentary
Scales of Justice, Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon
Perp Profile, Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon
Studio: Camp Motion Pictures
Distinguishing Marks, Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon
• Zombie Bloodbath 3: Behind The Scenes
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