I should start by telling you this; Zombie Transfusion (aka Automaton Transfusion) is to big budget filmmaking what Adolf Hitler is to world peace. Steven C. Miller’s zombie yarn takes it to the next level. So if you like your horror movies blessed with an all over Bruckheimer tan, chances are you’ll come away feeling like one of the characters in the movie; having had a small chunk of your life ripped away from you. Zombie Transfusion embraces all that we know and love about no budget movie making. There’s even the distinct possibility that you’ll think it was recorded on a camera phone. I half expected the cameraman to stop filming at one point because he’d received a text from his mum. Fortunately for me, and the mood of the piece, that didn’t actually happen.
The point I’m trying to make is this, if you approach this movie expecting anything more than fresh filmmakers testing zombie infested waters, there’s a good chance you’ll come away disappointed. But that’s the beauty of zombie movies, you don’t need a big budget to make a decent horror film, what you do need is a sprinkling of talent behind the camera and an effects wizard who knows what he’s doing. Might be worth grabbing hold of that there chainsaw then and sticking around, because when it comes to low budget horror movies, Zombie Transfusion comes with added bite.
Check out the reviews online and you’ll discover plenty of bad press, so lets get the negative points out of the way first. The camerawork is distracting. At first I thought it was my DVD player struggling to keep up, as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one struggling to get to grips with the shooting style. It’s almost as though key frames have been removed in the editing suite, giving the movie a jittery feel that bewilders. If anything in fact, it succeeds in taking the sheen off some accomplished direction. Next up, the actors. Contemptible performances and low budget filmmaking often walk hand in hand, with Zombie Transfusion however, the end result is more akin to a merry dance.
There are a few notable exceptions, Garrett Jones and William Howard Bowman provide welcome relief from the crimson tide of carcasses, and when I say carcasses, I’m not just talking about the zombies-to-be. I should also point out that the films internal logic doesn’t always ring true. Characters behave in bizarre fashion, zombie hordes appear as if by magic, and the final reveal raises more questions than it could ever hope to answer. One character in particular escapes to a nearby car only to catch her breath and reflect. Not such a tragic turn of events you might think, the girl is clearly having a tough time of it and probably deserves a breather. It’s not until you notice that the car is a convertible, with the hood down no less, that you realise just how stupid these characters are. Fortunately, for every dumb decision made, an inventive comeuppance is just around the corner to make amends.
Steven C. Miller’s direction is solid throughout, despite the occasional wobble here and there, but for the most part he handles proceedings with the grace of a seasoned pro. Then there are the effects, and if ever the movie had a trump card, this is where you’ll find it. Make no mistake about it, the make up and effects are some of the best you’ll see, quite how they managed imagery so striking on such a small budget is beyond me. Body parts are ripped off, blood oozes from every frame, and in one particularly nasty encounter, the term ‘womb with a view’ has never been so precise. Zombie Transfusion is blessed with imagery of the ickiest kind.
The camerawork frustrates, the performances make for good firewood and the screenplay has more holes than one of its victims, but Zombie Transfusion remains a tasty treat all the same. Worthwhile direction and inventive special effects are key, and a sudden ending leaves the door open for a second instalment. Worth a look. AW