Directed by Kevin King
Distributed by WellGo USA
If there’s one thing marginally worse than settling in to watch what you rightly assume will be a terrible movie, it’s being duped into having a sliver of hope for that movie because it stars someone you enjoy. Then, you start the film and that person has what amounts to a glorified cameo. Good ol’ misdirection and false advertising. That was exactly the case with this year’s latest DTV zombie offering, Zombie Hunter (2013). The front cover art is dominated by Danny Trejo’s cratered visage, complete with him holding a massive axe. This, to me, promises that at the very least we’re going to see him operating in his wheelhouse, chopping zombies up and generally being the sexagenarian badass we all love. Actually, at the very least it seems to make clear that Trejo is the star of this picture. Regardless of how you interpret it, the lame fact is he isn’t the star, and he gets exactly one scene to display his physical prowess. The actual star of the film is a typical wannabe hardass who has about the same level of on-screen charisma as Charlie Hunnam did in Pacific Rim (2013), which hovers right around zero. I guess in some ways this harkens back to the days of VHS, when you almost knew full well that half the films on the shelf could never live up to their impossibly amazing cover art, yet you’d still rent it anyway in hopes of being proven wrong. This time, you will not.
Hunter (Martin Copping) is a tough dude. He drives a badass sports car, he bludgeons “eaters” to death, and he talks like Snake Plissken. After escaping a street side zombie attack, Hunter gets shot and his car is totaled when some moron mistakes him for a zombie. A zombie that can drive cars. He winds up back at a compound run by Father Jesus (Danny Trejo), where a small group of survivors have holed up to escape the undead masses. When the compound is (very easily) overtaken by shuffling corpses, the group is forced back on to open terrain, where they have to outrun things like a clown with a chainsaw, and a giant beast that looks like rejected concept art from Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil (2002).
Let’s cut to the chase: there is nothing enjoyable about this film. The act of watching it feels like an interminable chore. The only minor saving grace – Danny Trejo – says a few lines and chops a few zombies down before literally losing his head. And even his presence leading up to that demise wasn’t compelling enough to make this film worth wasting your time. Everything is so contrived. I’d say the group is comprised of typical characters, but most of them barely get any time to allow a personality to come through. They’re about as two-dimensional as they come, our lead included. Hunter is as generic as his name, and when the film decides to reveal something… unique about him that could have been a complete game changer had it been known at the onset, we might’ve had a better film. But just after the big reveal, they stupidly negate it, and then the credits roll – which isn’t all that bad since I did not want to see a sequel materialize. The only crutch the film continually leans on is style. When an “eater” is killed, blood splatters across the screen and remains there just long enough to make a vain attempt at hiding the incredibly bad CGI that permeates every single action scene.
Speaking of that bad CGI, who decided what this film needed was a boss from Resident Evil for the PS1? And I’m not just talking design; this thing looks like it was literally copied and pasted here from that game. There are no other creatures that look like this dude anywhere else in the film, nor is there an explanation as to why a drug that makes people zombies also somehow produced an eight-foot-tall muscle-bound beast with a severe overbite. The funniest part is that it has that stiff arm-and-leg movement that is reminiscent of every creature ever shown in a SyFy Channel original movie. The best part of the film is a mysterious chainsaw-wielding clown that shows up in the final act, but the time it takes to get there isn’t worth it for a minor payoff. Zombie Hunter is a horrible film that never tries to do anything outside of the norm for a cheapie zombie flick. This review should serve as a warning to anyone whose interest is spurred due to Trejo’s mug gracing the cover. I only wish I could’ve spent as little time watching the movie as he does acting in it.
The HD image here is very proficient, sporting a pleasing 2.35:1 1080p picture that at least makes it an attractive viewing. This film relies heavily on style and flash, but the flair-less scenes look just as impressive as those that are all dressed up. The digital image is clean and grain-free, though it does have the disadvantage if making bad CGI look even more apparent. Colors range from de-saturated to blown-out and bleeding, all due to the stylistic flourishes that occur throughout. For what a cheap, DTV film shot on digital, credit should be given for trying to help it look a cut above normal. Much of the palette takes on steely blue hues, and there is a strong push toward red for the flashback sequences. Details look strong in close-ups, but background elements are sketchy. The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound track is the best thing this disc has to offer. The fidelity here is very good, providing a good range to seamlessly deliver all of the film’s constant gunfire and moans of the zombie hordes. Dialogue registers high in the mix, managing to always remain discernible even during heavy action. The most frustrating aspect of the soundtrack is the score itself. I’d sampled some tracks online and they sounded like modern interpretations of something John Carpenter and Alan Howarth might’ve crafted, which made me more excited to see this film than I expected. Those tracks, however, only appear during the film’s menu screen and the end credits. Otherwise, it’s all dubstep (why, god, why??) and generic rock that would be the backing track to the Grammy’s. Such a shame, because the closing credits music would’ve greatly helped the picture had it been present more often.
The only extra feature here is a trailer, presented in HD.
1 out of 5
1/2 out of 5