Taeter City: Collector's Edition (DVD)
Starring Monica Muñoz, Riccardo Valentini, Santiago Ortaez, Wilmar Zimosa, Giulio De Santi
Directed by Giulio De Santi
Distributed by Necrostorm
It's the future, and in Taeter City crime is a thing of the past thanks to The Authority's Zeed System. Distributed via antennae placed all over the city, the signals sent by the Zeed System interfere with the brains of those predisposed to criminality, turning their violent urges into uncontrollable suicidal impulses. Cleaning the resulting mess from the streets are The Authority's Biker Division, who will turn up to either remove the self-mutilated corpses of would-be lawbreakers or simply finish them off. On top of this, the eating of animal meat is also outlawed -- rather, the corpses of the deceased criminals are delivered to Authority slaughterhouses where the human meat is prepared and distributed to the population via the many branches of their Taeter Burger fast food franchise.
While being bombarded with cutaways to informational television broadcasts delivered by The Authority's mouthpiece, the deranged-looking (and sounding) Caronte, coupled with plenty of humorous advertisements for the Zeed system, Taeter Burger and "Blood" energy drink, Taeter City takes the audience on a trip alongside Bikers Razor (Muñoz), Shock (Ortaez) and Wank (Zimosa) as they go about their duties. Things soon take a strange turn, however, when they're set on the trail of Trevor Covalsky (De Santi) -- a murderous criminal who appears to have been mutated by the Zeed System rather than destroyed. Stronger than ever, the psychopathic Covalsky now has the ability to emit a scream that causes horrific mutations and extremely violent reactions in those caught by the wave.
Putting the audience on the side of a willingly cannibalistic dictatorship who adorn themselves with various creepy masks to designate their job/standing, complete with Nazi salute-style corporate greeting, seems a risky manoeuvre for writer/director De Santi, but it doesn't take long for the scathing satire at the heart of Taeter City to become apparent. This is a future that, while it appears to be coated in a solid veneer of safety, is well and truly fucked. With little in the way of sympathetic characters to adhere to, the focus of Taeter City becomes that which Necrostorm are very quickly making a name for themselves in -- displays of extremely graphic, and incredibly well realised, violence and gore. Using a mixture of CGI-enhanced prosthetics and editing tricks, the gore effects on display here can be truly mind-blowing. Some of the best involve the weapon employed by Razor: a futuristic set of gloves that with a flick of the hand send an airborne arc of blades that see heads lopped off or chopped in half, and one superbly explosive total bodily bisection. Other violent highlights include the Bikers' summary execution method -- a machine that entangles the victim in chains before restricting to crush the hands and head, and a superlatively splattery sequence involving a gun that fires explosive detonation rounds. There are barely a few minutes that pass in Taeter City without some kind of ultra-violent happenings, and the skill of their delivery would put some much larger profile effects houses to shame.
Backing up the quality of the gore effects is also some sterling work in digital sets and compositing. Obviously working with a low budget, director De Santi manages to pull off some visually impressive set pieces including a truck explosion that, considering the limitations and how it was actually put together, is pretty jaw-dropping, and a similarly impressive first-person shot with an explosive finale that is edited with remarkable finesse. A number of effects sequences are obviously filmed against the same white wall at the studio, though, and edited into the various scenes but this is a fairly minor nitpick. The animated interludes advertising both the Taeter Burger franchise and the Zeed System itself are frequently humourous, even bordering on delightful at times, and offer a kooky slant to the extremity of the violence and gore on display.
There's no denying the ambition on display throughout Taeter City, but it does suffer greatly from narrative fracturing. The frequent interludes from Caronte serve to break up the action, but also inadvertently (one assumes) see the rest of the film essentially reduced to a series of gory vignettes. With little in the way of character development, audience investment in our biking trio is minimal and, at its core, the actual storyline at play here feels sadly restrained by means -- a mere glimpse at a tale that has its sights set much grander than ultimately permitted. The dialogue can be cheesy, but this actually adds somewhat to the "what the hell" attitude flaunted throughout, especially when one Authority member briefing the Bikers quips "Don't ask me how or why, because this is fucking nonsense. FUCKING NONSENSE!" Gorehounds will be over the moon, but those less interested in special effects showmanship and fountains of arterial spray will be less well served than they were with the stronger storyline of Necrostorm's previous knockout, Adam Chaplin.
Mind you, not many will take the ride into Taeter City unaware of just what it's setting out to offer -- a brief glimpse at the trailer is enough to tell if it'll be up your street. In that sense, then, it's a definite hit. When the folks at Necrostorm promise during said trailer to deliver blood, blood, blood... and again, blood, they sure as hell make good on their word.
The Collector's Edition DVD set of Taeter City is an impressive package, all told, with multiple physical items awaiting you. To show your allegiance to The Authority, you get yourself a Taeter Burger baseball cap as seen worn by the restaurant's employees in the film, along with a couple of Biker ID cards and Taeter Burger coupons -- one advertising All You Can Eat day, and another the all new "Guts Wrap" and "Two Fingers, One Eye" meals. You'll also get a Taeter City poster personally signed on the rear by director Giulio De Santi. He appears to have a penchant for also scribbling a random picture next to his signature (we had a skull, others posting their sets around the web have had others such as severed heads) which gives the whole thing a nice personal touch.
On the disc we have the complete film soundtrack which, with its fusion of synth, techno and metal makes a great listen (and serves the film very well indeed), followed by a short cartoon named Gastric Combat which sees two 2D rivals go head to head in a Mortal Kombat-inspired fight to the death inside a weird tentacled creature's stomach. Next up is what appears to be an early animation for one of the Zeed/Taeter Burger advertisements from the film, considering the Zeed System is instead named the Borg System. A quick "Making of" featurette reveals the inner workings of a number of the film's effects, including the aforementioned truck explosion, and serves to highlight the thought and skill that goes into what these guys create.
Finally, and best of the on-disc special features, is a selection of premiere episodes of Giulio De Santi's new animated series Dhondolone. As with the Gastric Combat short, 2D animation is the name of the game here as we're treated to the many horrible demises of what appears to be the world's most clueless samurai. Set amongst various backdrops such as the sea, the jungle, the dojo and even in space, Dhondolone is a riot from beginning to end. Along the lines of Happy Tree Friends but perhaps even more gruesome, the hapless little man is exploded, eaten, squashed, beaten to a pulp and rendered a casualty of his own stupidity time and time again. It's a heck of a lot of fun.
NOTE: This edition of Taeter City is only available for purchase directly from the Necrostorm website.
3 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5