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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DVD Review: ZOMBIES BY DESIGN (2006)

Welcome to the first review by our new contributing writer, Scott Baker! His first assignment was to review the Troubled Moon Films feature, ZOMBIES BY DESIGN, which was written and directed by Dave Wascavage. Lets see what Scott thought about the film:



It probably goes without saying that making a film is not an easy task to undertake. Not only do you need a top-notch idea and solid script-writing, but you need good, talented actors, a hard-working production team, access to credible special-effects tools, and, of course, money. Good films can and have been made with only some of these attributes, but they are certainly few and far between. Unfortunately, Zombies by Design is not one of these rarities.
For those of you not familiar with the plot of ZOMBIES BY DESIGN, here is a synopsis:

Evil scientist Lex Blackheart has developed a way to remotely control zombie subjects to do his bidding. But when the military decides not to buy into his project, Blackheart takes matters into his own hands and unleashes a plan of revenge on those who have wronged him. Unfortunately, the rest of the world will be involved as well. A rag-tag group of people must band together to stop Blackheart and his zombies from taking over the world.

I did not want my first review on 4H to be a negative one, but regrettably I have no choice. This movie is terrible overall and an epic fail on many individual levels. I am chagrined to say that this one won’t even go in the So-Bad-It’s-Good category. It’s just plain awful.

Take, for example, the acting. I can handle bad acting to a certain degree, but wow…the actors and actresses in Zombies by Design were so bad that I almost couldn’t finish watching the film. Certain characters in this film made me want to reach into the screen and choke them. The foremost of these was Lex Blackheart himself, played by David M. Sitbon. The evil laugh he used that was supposed to personify the Blackheart persona was enough to make you beg for earplugs. And the over-dramatic emphasis on all of his lines made me cringe. Holy cow. It was too much.

The special effects started off promising, with bursting blood-spurts and sickening gore, but they quickly dropped into lazy, 1980’s-circa Nintendo-style computer graphics instead. I seriously thought at one point that I had started watching a different movie half-way through Zombies by Design. The real-fake blood was replaced with sorry CG spurting gushers that looked utterly cartoonish on film (not to mention the fact that many times they didn’t match up with the action). And there were several scenes cut into the action that were supposed to show gory, blood-drenched bodies…but instead showed boxy graphics of bodies that, no kidding, looked pixilated, just like they had come out of a Super Mario Bros. game from an ORIGINAL back-in-the-day Nintendo.

Don’t get me wrong: I can certainly understand working with a low budget. But to me, there’s no excuse for incorporating decent-looking ‘real’ special effects with cheap late-80’s knock-offs that my six year-old son who has minimal computer skills could do better. Maybe the effects team ran out of money, or maybe they found themselves in a time-crunch. I don’t know. But glopping a bunch of chocolate syrup onto the actors would have looked much better (and believable) than the CG that was used.

The ONLY saving grace I found with this film was that it was shot very well. Many of the camera angles used were unique and therefore gave a minuscule spark to the lackluster writing and acting. I found myself more interested in how they put the camera into position for specific shots instead of the story itself or the action. I would definitely like to see more of this Director of Photography’s work, but only inside of a decent movie.

I do not enjoy hammering an independent filmmaker’s work, as I am aspiring to be one myself. But more effort should have been put forth on this film to ensure it was the type of quality that movie audiences want to see. Good acting can sometimes make up for a poor script, and a good script can sometimes make up for lacking special effects. But when all aspects of the film fall short, nothing remains but a travesty.

In this reviewer’s opinion, Zombies by Design should certainly not go on your Watch List.

SB


CLICK HERE to visit the official website of Troubled Moon Films and purchase the DVD
CLICK HERE to watch the trailer

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