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Dead Creatures

Review by: 
Blackgloves
Release Date: 
2001
Studio: 
Screen Entertainment
Genre: 
Horror
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
0 PAL
Aspect Ratio: 
1.85:1
Directed by: 
Andrew Parkinson
Cast: 
Antonia Beamish
Beverly Wilson
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
5
Bottom Line: 
4

 Luckily the cast are uniformly very good; the script mostly believable and comprehensive in it's treatment of the varying reactions of the women to their predicament and the lives they must now lead; while the dysfunctional life of the alcoholic zombie hunter (Brendan Gregory), who is driven by grief for the loss of his missing daughter, is both powerfully written and well acted.
 
If all of this is beginning to sound just a touch worthy, don't be deceived — "Dead Creatures" is most definitely a full-on horror movie and Parkinson does not pull any punches in depicting just what the premise of the movie entails: Bodies are dismembered, throats are slit, brains are eaten, and the zombie hunter's method of dispatching his prey involves firing a retractable bolt through the back of their skulls and out through their foreheads! The gore level brings to mind Fulci at his most brutal and the camera doesn't turn away from any of it (this is also a good point to mention some of the outstanding and very nasty special effects); but unlike Fulci's surreal body horror, the gore in "Dead Creatures" is always portrayed as part of the everyday world of the characters -- something which only helps make it seem more disturbing. Body parts are strewn around a zombie couple's flat as if they are the most normal thing in the world to have lying about; a zombie woman idly nibbles at clumps of brain matter while reading a magazine; and in one very yucky scene, a group of female zombies introduce a recently zombified young woman to their life style with a small party where the meal is provided by a dismembered female corpse, laid out across newspaper on the living room floor!
 
It's downbeat, Ken Loach style and matter-of-fact approach to the outrageous and the gross, tends to encourage the view that there must be some allegorical intent behind "Dead Creatures", although this is something that the director denies. There are references to certain news stories that were current in the UK at the time of filming, such as BSE and the scandal surrounding stolen organs from dead infants that were used in experiments at a London hospital; and real radio clips concerning these stories are used on the audio track. Resonance's from the stories have apparently also worked their way into the film in the form of a zombie nurse who pays a mortuary attendant for human organs, and the development of the zombie virus which causes the body and mind to progressively decay, leading some of the characters to indulge in self-mutilation. All this has the effect, whether intentional or not, of suggesting that there might be something rotten in the heart of contemporary British society that goes unacknowledged most of the time--although there is no blatant indication of what this might be and certainly no tedious ideological posturing. The interrelationships between characters and how they are affected by death and disease seems to be the major theme of the film. As characters die from the virus (but more usually from their friends putting them out of their painful misery), or are caught by the zombie hunter, they start to swap roles. There is an obvious parallel with the ageing process here and possibly a reference to how the relationships between parents and their children change over time; so, by the end of the film the most innocent inductee into the zombie community has become the more dominant character in the group. Meanwhile, the zombie hunter's motivation for his obsessive and lonely trawl through the London streets looking for zombies is primarily grief for the loss of his daughter and the need to know what happened to her. The personal and interlocking stories of all these characters is what forms the backbone of the film and both it's look and structure is actually pretty similar to British soap-operas such as "Eastenders"! Parkinson and cinematographer Jason Shephard have both worked for the BBC, and maybe years of working on soap-operas and sitcoms have been put to good use to create this very original and peculiarly British take on the zombie film.
 
This low-budget independent feature has been given a rather nice, extras loaded release by Screen Entertainment as part of their Hard Gore collection. We have an anamorphicaly enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen picture with a good clear transfer. The film has a deliberately flat look with strong colours only really utilised in the zombie hunter's interrogation scenes, but the print used is nice and clean with little print damage or artifacting. We get a Dolby Digital 2.0 English audio track which is perfectly adequate for this film.
 
The disc comes with a large amount of extras and they are well worth a look. First up we have a commentary track provided by writer and Director Andrew Parkinson, Director of photography Jason Shephard and dubbing mixer Tudor Davies. This starts out being quite interesting and ends up being quite funny! It's the only commentary track I've heard where you can actually hear the sound of bear cans being opened! By the end of the film most of the participants are completely drunk and the whole thing has descended into fits of giggling! It's quite amusing and often provides a rather extreme counterpoint to what is actually going on on screen!
 
Also, we get a short "making of" documentary containing behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew; footage of the film's premiere at Fantasia 2001 with Parkinson taking questions from the audience; outtakes with commentary from Andrew Parkinson; a three minute short film "Sad Man" by Andrew Parkinson; plus a Trailer, image gallery, and cast and crew biographies.
 
It's a great set for a very interesting and original low-budget British film that definitely deserves a look from horror fans.

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