Biohazardous DVD Review
Written by Eric Strauss
Released by Eclectic DVD Distribution
Written and directed by Michael J. Hein
2003, Region 0 (NTSC), 93 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on February 18th, 2003
Sprague Grayden as Laura Forman
David Garver as Steve Greenwood
Al Thompson as Mike Walker
Thomas A. Cahill as Mr. Stine
Will Dunham as Father Morris
Even with a priest playing a prominent role in Biohazardous, this zombie movie still manages to commit a cardinal sin.
It starts slow and ugly.
For more than half an hour, this Resident Evil/Romero wannabe relies on its acting and writing as it builds to its first real kills. But the acting and writing are so questionable, it’s amazing if any viewers last until the red stuff.
Sure, it’s entertaining to watch Thomas A. Cahill and Jon Avner (Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV) chew the scenery as a genetic-research executive and nosy local cop, respectively. And Al Thompson (The Royal Tenenbaums), as Avner’s partner, offers a decent center to the latter, more action-oriented part of the film.
But while partying teens Sprague Grayden (TV’s “Over There”), David Garver (The Missing) and Katheryn Winnick (Hellraiser: Hellworld) aren’t that bad, they’re done in by characters that are unbearably whiny and clueless. The fourth member of their group, Matt Markey, is better after he’s been electrocuted, when all he has to do is twitch. And poor Will Dunham (A Beautiful Mind), as Father Morris, has the dubious honor of the worst lines of all, with the expected results.
As for the rest of the cast, let’s just say one of the bit players can’t even say “Holy fucking shit!” with convincing emphasis. It’s amazing how many of the actors have a string of credits on the Internet Movie Database.
The one thing Biohazardous does have is an enthusiastic amount of gore, but by the time the guns start firing and the blood starts flying, it’s too late. This tale of four groups of people trapped in the Gentech labs after an experiment goes wrong is already a lost cause.
Low-budget films often have people wearing multiple hats, but writer and director Michael J. Hein might have benefited from someone else looking over his script. On the other hand, his scene direction isn’t bad, and Anthony Pepe and Daniel Jouet put together some good-looking effects.
But even the most basic consistency eludes Biohazardous. There are too many moments like the one when a character injured so badly he’s been dragged for several scenes suddenly is on his feet, running and whining. That without the benefit of the medical attention his friends entered the building specifically to get him.
Just one more flaw the movie can’t overcome.
A stronger film with a stronger cast might have held its audience, but this one is plagued with mediocre acting and dialogue that no real human being ever has, ever would or ever will say.
Video and Audio:
The anamorphic widescreen picture is solid, and to Hein’s credit, most of the scenes are very clear and well-lit, even the bane of low-budget, the night shots. Sure, there are weak spots and some grain here and there, but generally speaking, this is a very good performance from a low-budget film.
The quality of the Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is a lot lower than the image. Much of that is clearly the fault of the source sound, as voices get louder the closer the speakers get to the camera, wreaking havoc on the overall volume. There is a shallow, tinny quality to the audio in places, and that, too, appears to be a source issue.
And when more than one actor is speaking — or worse, shouting — the dialogue degenerates into an incomprehensible noise.
The main extra is that staple of low-budget filmmaking, the audio commentary. Hein, Cahill, effects man Pepe and assistant director Todd Broder clearly use one microphone, so as with the feature, volume level and clarity are issues at times. Otherwise, though, it’s a typical group commentary with some humor and some interesting information on the low-budget filmmaking process.
(At one point in the commentary, Hein mentions how grateful he is for all the positive reviews of the film. Sorry, Michael.)
There is also a trailer, which is appealing but shows the film’s budgetary limitations and lacks the crisp image of the feature itself, plus a short, but nice photo gallery.
Biohazardous plays its hand — the bloody effects — too late in the game to overcome its dreadfully slow start and fatally weak script. Making things worse, Hein evidently gets the least out of his cast, and yet over-relies on their performances and his own flawed dialogue.
There are plenty of recent zombie movies that are worth a rental or purchase. This isn’t one of them.