Monday, December 24, 2007

Exhumed – review

DVDDirector: Brian Clement

Release date: 2003

Contains spoilers

When I looked at the Brian Clement’s films Meat Market (1 and 2) I said that whilst Clement throws in everything bar the kitchen sink in concepts there was little in the way of actual plot. This three episode film actually has a large amount of plot (as well as bunging in the proverbial kitchen sink of concepts) but perhaps it has a little too much. Sometimes it never rains but it pours.

Ostensibly three short films, they are not so much connected by portmanteau but by an over-riding story that – involving passage through time as it does – means all three are interconnected. All three are also very different films. Only part three actually contains vampires but I will look briefly at the over two parts.

zombies in feudal JapanPart one is called “Forest of Death” and is, on the surface, a zombie film shot in feudal Japan. Clement claims that these are not zombies, however, and he is correct – we’ll look at that later but you’d be forgiven, on a first view for thinking me mad. We have a samurai Zenatro (Hiroaki Itaya) and a monk Ryuzo (Masahiro Oyake) travelling through a forest to find an artefact that can raise the dead. As the film begins Zentaro wants to retrieve it and Ryuzo wants to destroy it, as things progress Ryuzo is corrupted by power and Zentaro sees the error of his ways. All in all, despite some poor fight choreography, it is a satisfying little piece. During a vision we get a glimpse of a General (Chuck Depape) from another time zone.

torch songs in noirThe second part is called “Shadow of Tomorrow” and is a film noir shot in black and white and sees private eye Jane Decarlo (Claire Westby) trailing a dame, Vivian (Moira Thomas), with a back drop of body snatching. The entire piece dissolves into a mad scientist movie, with the artefact again and has no real ending (until we go back to the story at the very end of the film). The big problem with this section is that the dialogue stinks. Clement tried, it is clear, but in my opinion failed to make a decent go of a film noir.

a mod vampThe final part is called “Last Rumble” and shoots into the future. The world is ravaged by war but there is a second war between vampires and werewolves going on. They only care about their battle and do not care for the human’s conflict. For some reason vampires have become Mods and werewolves Rockers. It is an affectation that is, perhaps, a little over the top but I can see why they did it.

a rocker werewolfThere is about to be a rumble between the two species when they are attacked by human soldiers in biohazard suits. They kill off most of the wolves and capture a female called Zura (Chantelle Adamache). Later they raid the vampire’s lair and kill them all bar Cherry (Chelsey Arentsen) whom they place in the same cell as Zura. They are to be placed in the pit.

Zura and CherryThe pit turns out to be a fighting pit and Cherry is placed in it first and forced to battle zombies. Following this the two women decide they have to escape together. Their escape is short lived, but does include knocking someone’s face clean off and they are electrocuted and placed back in the cell where they decide to put behind them the centuries of hatred between their races and have lesbian sex – as you do.

Chuck Depape is General DeusSo why have they been captured. The General – who goes by the name Deus – found the artefact when their war effort was failing. Throw in a large slice of Lovecraft here as he found it on the Leng plateau. Its power turned his eyes funky and he likes to eat people – but that isn’t really explained in any great detail.

He had his scientists send the artefact back in time – they can only send inanimate objects – in order to experiment with sending consciousnesses back in time to take over dead bodies. This way they will win the war by changing history. The first experiments involved animals – hence the dead in Japan not really being zombies but animal consciousness in dead bodies – why then they walked on two legs is beyond me.

Chelsey Arentsen as CherryCherry and Zura are the next phase of experiment before human testing as these mutants (as Deus terms them) are close to human. Okay, things are getting a little convoluted (which is probably the biggest understatement I have written) and throw in aliens stopping this in the noir segment (when we return to it) and we have almost every concept Clement could think of thrown into the mix…

El Diablo Azul appears for no good reasonWait, I missed one. For no adequately explored reason we get footage of the Mexican wrestler El Diablo Azul (Dustan Roberts) in the pit, fighting a faceless, cleaver wielding zombie. I like Mexican wrestlers, as regular readers will know, and, as this is the third Clement movie I have reviewed that stars this character in one way or another, he obviously likes them too. But enough is enough – it made zero sense. I would almost suggest that Clement make a pure Mexican Wrestling movie and get it out of his system.

Too ambitious for its own good there are some fine ideas that get lost in the slough of concepts. The middle section is poorly done but section 1 and 3 have definite merits. I could not see the logic of having the vampires and werewolves involved (except for some blood mixing, hybrid concept mentioned at the end, being a total Underworld rip off and being fatally under-explored). Clement has ideas, that much is true, and is quite adept of making something out of very little budget. He really needs to find focus, however, cut the concepts (and the Mexican wrestlers) down and create the film he is clearly capable of.

The acting is a mixed bag and clearly poorest in the Noir section. The acting in the future section can be below average but some of the cast do rather well. Strongest is in the Japanese section, with the two leads doing well. It isn’t Oscar winning but it is good enough for this budget of film.

This is more satisfying than the Meat Market films due to having plot but it is still nowhere near what Clement could be capable of with a little more budget, better cast and dialogue and a lot more focus. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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