Eaters: Rise of the Dead DVD Review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by Chelsea Films
Directed by Luca Boni & Marco Ristori
Written by Marco Ristori & Germano Tarricone
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 94 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 13th June 2011
Guglielmo Favilla as Alen
Alex Lucchesi as Igor
Rosella Elmi as Alexis
Elisa Ferretti as Cristina
Claudio Marmugi as Gyno
Observant viewers may notice three words on the cover of Eaters: Rise of the Dead. Three simple words that invoke a rising feeling of dread with any horror fan: Uwe Boll Presents.
However you feel about the German filmmaker, I would urge you to ignore his endorsement. In reality, he had nothing at all to do with the making of the film and has only picked up the distribution rights to get this Italian indie film in front of a bigger audience.
Uwe Boll or not, if you like your zombie films you’re in for a bit of a treat with Eaters. Helmed by first-time directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori, it’s a rollocking road-trip through a land ruled by the walking dead, neo-nazis and mad scientists. And to add another string to its bow, it is something we haven’t seen in some time: an Italian zombie movie.
Lead characters Alen and Igor are the military half of a small group of survivors. They’re holed up with Gyno, a scientist desperately searching for a cure to the undead plague, and Cristina, Alen’s ex-girlfriend, who is infected, but doesn’t show any urge to eat people. Cristina is unique; not only is she seemingly immune to the infection, she’s one of the few women left alive. When Gyno needs more fresh specimens, he sends Alen and Igor into the infected zone to round up some new subjects and call in some favours with other survivors.
The bulk of the film follows the two soldiers on their road trip. Alen is the sensible one, quiet and brooding with a pragmatic head on his shoulders. Clearly he bears a burden on his mind from the loss of Cristina from his life. He’s the complete opposite to Igor; gung-ho and foolhardy, always spoiling for a fight. And in a country full of the walking dead one is never far off.
As Alen and Igor travel cross-country, they encounter all manner of odd characters. The story is set up that the groups of survivors all know each other, despite the fact they live separate lives. This makes for a slightly different angle on the post-apocalyptic survival story as we get to see a snapshot of life after the plague. Having a plentiful supply of zombies lumbering about means we also witness Alen and Igor in full ass-kicking mode, as they use everything at their disposal to despatch the undead in imaginative ways. The most dangerous foe for our pair of heroes isn’t, as you might expect, the zombies: It’s a bunch of neo-Nazis . They live by tough rules, and anyone who breaks them gets to take part in a test of their character; one nazi, one zombie, one bullet. Kill the zombie before it gets you and you’re free, miss and it’s chow time. Igor has history with these guys, it’s never explained how, but he gave one of their generals a nice scar across his eye ensuring that he and Alen never receive a particularly warm welcome from the group. Igor’s insistence on referring to their leader as “short-arse” doesn’t go down well either, although it’s perhaps not the best way to address a Nazi dwarf.
Eaters is another film shot on the indie filmmaker’s favourite, the Canon 7D still camera (UK indie movie Harold’s Going Stiff used this camera and Mike Flanagan’s Absentia its little brother, the 5D). Watching the behind the scenes feature is mildly bizarre, the cameraman looking more like a photographer than someone capturing live action.
The film combines the use of some seriously good practical special effects with CGI to add in some of the elements that the budget wouldn’t stretch to. Directors Ristori and Boni have wisely chosen to keep the CGI to a minimum and only use it where it can enhance the scenes. As a result, you’re never left disappointed and, until the making-of feature, you won’t be aware of what is CG and what isn’t.
It’s great to see two young directors go at a project like this with such gusto. Zombie movies are two-a-penny these days and, while the post-apocalyptic survival scenario is not the most original, the sheer number of sub-plots and different ideas crammed into the film means that there’s something for everyone.
Video and Audio:
The DVD is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the option of 5.1 or 2.0 original Italian audio. The subtitles have been fantastically well translated into English, not that I'm an Italian speaker, but the swearwords have all been made typically British. 'Arse', rather than 'ass' is so much better. The picture is as clear as one would expect from digital, with the post-processing adding a grimy and gritty look to the colours.
A behind the scenes feature runs about 30 minutes and covers a lot of ground, including Boll’s involvement in the distribution of the film and the special effects. There’s also a 4 minute VFX reel that mainly shows the scenes before and after CGI treatment.