Directed by: Marco Ristori and Luca Boni
Written by: Marco Ristori and Germano Tarricone
Starring: Guglielmo Favilla, Alex Lucchesi, Claudio Marmugi, Rosella Elmi
The cover art for Eaters proclaims that the film is “presented by Uwe Boll.” This information should be more than enough for potential viewers to make up their minds. Mr. Boll did not direct this latest take on the zombie apocalypse, nor did he have much direct involvement with the production. So if the best your Italian zombie film has to trumpet is a tenuous association with the reviled filmmaker of House of the Dead, then you’ve already set the expectation level rather low. It turns out the Boll mention was an adequate, and honest, admonition of the resulting 95 minutes.
A mutant virus that turns humans into flesh-eating zombies has destroyed the civilized world. In a filthy, dilapidated compound a scientist with the unfortunate name of Gyno (Claudio Marmugi) is conducting experiments on the living dead. Several detestable military types live within the compound and assist Gyno (pronounced Jino) in collecting specimens for his research. Everyone in this outfit is a repugnant alpha male, save for the more introspective Alen (handsome Guglielmo Favilla), whose girlfriend Alexia (Rosella Elmi) remains in a half-zombie state and locked in a cell. Gyno believes that Alexia’s not-quite-zombie condition might be the key in curing the devastating outbreak (which has an overly convoluted genesis). Women were effected by the virus first, systematically wiping out most of them - and ensuring lots of crazy alpha posturing.
Alen and Igor (repulsive Alex Lucchesi) are sent out to Sector 7 to round up some more zombie specimens for the good doctor. On the outskirts of an ever-smoldering CG version of a destroyed city they drive through the countryside, meeting up with several more contemptible survivors. They barter for food beer and food with an artist whose only request is a decapitated head so he can capture it on canvas. They visit a group of neo-Nazis, the kind of organized criminal community that only exists in these post-apocalyptic films. (The Nazis fancy playing games of chicken with zombie captives and antagonizing the leads in typical no-goodnik fashion.) During their road trip Alen and Igor also stumble across a mad religious fanatic who they believe to be the original “Plague Spreader.” In his church compound they find a near-catatonic teen female named Christina (Elisa Ferretti) and decide to rescue her. Once back at their dilapidated base, they discover the true nature of Gyno’s experiments which lead them to an explosive confrontation.
Discovering early on that Eaters was a dubbed Italian production gave some hope that it might offer something (anything!) different from the current glut of zombie films. But those hopes were dashed just minutes into the tired, claustrophobic set-up, which shares quite a few similarities to Romero’s Day of the Dead. At it’s most entertaining, the film shares some of the more ridiculous qualities of Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead. The insane dialogue between the over-emoting Italian cast, much like Hell, provides a few laughs. There are shout outs to such disparate touchstones as Detective Columbo, Osama Bin Lauden and Leon: the Professional. What decade is this?
I guess it goes without saying that this Uwe Boll presentation is not a quality production. It was directed by Marco Ristori and Luca Boni, whose tag-team follow-up was something called Zombie Massacre (which starred, wait for it, Uwe Boll). It’s not clear why it took two directors to create such a messy piece of exploitation, but braver souls might check out the “making-of” bonus feature to find out. Eaters is shot with that annoying shaky cam “technique,” supposedly used to illicit a sense of urgency. But it’s really just a crutch for lazy cinematographers with little sense of style or craftsmanship (I’m talking to you Paco Ferrari). Technically this is one of the more incompetent films I have seen in recent memory. Most of the action is rendered incomprehensible by sloppy editing and atrocious composition. There are almost no master shots in this production, which lends a cheap “found footage” look to the proceedings. It’s an ugly looking film, even by Boll’s low standards.
The most interesting aspect of Eaters is that there are a good amount of practical effects that, though dodgy, do add a bit of novelty to the rote goings-on. Of course all of the blood spatters, explosions and main effects are low-budget CGI, which negates any good will established from the interesting prosthetic work. This is probably the third zombie film in as many months where all the gun hits were added in post-production. CGI is no substitute for practical effects, especially in a violent horror film that caters to fans of the red stuff.
Bad film aficionados might find Eaters a suitable altered state diversion, if only for the ridiculous dubbed dialogue and high level of crazy. But those who demand something more than distraction are urged to stay away and watch their copy of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead once again.