Wednesday, April 10

Some quick thoughts on Eaters (Eaters: Rise of the Dead) (2011)

A plague has devastated the world's female population dropping the birth rate to zero and turning them into literal manhunters. Now, tiny bands of unbitten men struggle as one small group headed up by a scientist looks for an antidote. A slowly zombifying female captive might hold the answer, but more live dead specimens are required. Alen (Guglielmo Favilla) and Igor (Alex Lucchesi), are sent far into an area thick with dead. But while they're out hunting, much like our old friend Dr. Logan of Romero's Day, the good doctor has other, slightly psychotic plans...

Presented by Uwe Boll, you say? DO NOT WANT. Hold your horses, we'll get to that in a minute. Eaters is the long gestating debut of Italian filmmakers Marco Ristori and Luca Boni. Over the course of ten screenplay drafts and a few teaser trailers spanning several years, the pair finally gathered enough money to shoot their first feature. The infamous Boll entered at ground level with a promise to distribute the film if ever completed. His word was kept and here we are with Boll World Sales handling the film worldwide.

Shot using a Canon EOS 7D for just 100k, you'll probably find that you'll have to adjust to some realities. That means despite a world-crippling pandemic, Eaters mostly sticks local with its two leads engaging in small skirmishes in the countryside with a few CG overlays of burning cities in the distance. This might disappoint those expecting a barrage of zombie action and I was initially let down when stretches of dialogue heavy sequences began to creep in. Accepting this early on helps in finding plenty to like in this bread and butter effort.

Ristori and Boni have done an excellent job hashing out Alen and Igor with so much time spent with the two bantering back-and-forth. Alen is more level-headed and contemplative, feeling the urgency of finding a cure since their captive is actually his dying wife. Igor is gung-ho and brash, also looking for answers, but quick to provide his own from his sidearm. Favilla and Lucchesi play off each other well, making their characters likable all the while kicking zombie ass, delivering body parts to an esoteric painter for food, and using beer as barter with a cabal of Neo-Nazis scum.  

As stated, the doughy-skinned zombies are sparse, attacking suddenly in-between chats as Alen and Igor run afoul of living foes and mysterious transmissions from "The Plague Spreader". The cheap gore is a mix of practical and even cheaper CG. And this is where the most nagging aspect of the movie becomes apparent and it's surprisingly not the CG.

The post digital color correction is what quickly becomes the eyesore here. The color is so desaturated that it might as well have been shot in either gray or brown monochrome. This sounds like a nitpick, but it genuinely makes Eaters look even cheaper and darkens much of the gore to a black raspberry hue. Yes, it's a bleak apocalyptic scenario but the very nature of the premise should convey that. There's no need to tarnish natural color and make the movie ugly to spell out that shit's like, real bad, man...

However, for such a low budget debut Marco Ristori and Luca Boni display a fervent love for the subgenre and you'll want to follow the surviving characters by the conclusion. Not to mention it's an Italian zombie movie and who would have ever thought we'd see another? Maybe there's hope in a continued Italian horror revival?

Entertainment One's DVD features a half hour making-of with lengthy discussion from the filmmakers and cast that only bolsters the notion that the pair have the passion to go places with higher budgets (their new Zombie Massacre has a one million budget, trailer here). They also address the hatred many throw toward Uwe Boll saying it's unjustified and he came through on his word at a time when everyone else was disinterested in their aspirations for Eaters. And without Boll, I probably wouldn't have been able to buy this DVD at Wal Mart, the largest retailer in the world. So that arrogant director of shit from Germany must be doing something right.

As for the other aspects of the DVD, the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks solid in all its dull-colored glory. There's a throaty unadvertised Italian DTS 5.1 track included along with Italian and English dub Dolby 5.1. The large white subtitles are wordy and judging by HorrorTalk's review, share the same English translation found on the UK DVD (every "ass" is instead "arse").


Jayson Kennedy said...

BTW, the transfer on the DVD is noticeably more drawn in its color than the trailer. So maybe it's the DVD? Unsure...

David A. Zuzelo said...

SOLD!!! Thanks, Jayson!

Jayson Kennedy said...

Haha, it was worth the ten bucks! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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