Monday, July 21, 2008

Automaton Transfusion

You try to have a little more leniency when you’re discussing a really low budget film. Michael Bay may be able to solve a plot problem by just blowing shit up, but the guy who is financing his movie with his MasterCard can’t. One of the lowest of the low budget films I have seen lately is Automaton Transfusion, shot for a reported $30,000 in Orlando, Florida. And no, although I watched the movie and most of the extras on the DVD, I don’t know what the title means. If anyone out there does know, I would appreciate enlightenment.

Automaton Transfusion is your basic zombie movie, set among high school kids played by actors who look even older than usual. Here’s the plot: Suddenly there are zombies, and they run amok, eating people. Our three main characters, Nerd, Bad Haircut Guy, and Out of Place Black Guy, attempt to get away from them. That’s pretty much it. Some people get eaten, a few don’t. Near the end of the movie they run into Exposition Guy, who explains everything that’s happening, although the explanation is so lame it would have been better to keep it a mystery. (For example, the janitor at the high school turns out to be an undercover U.S. Army General. Really. He is Exposition Guy, by the way.) The movie ends when TO BE CONTINUED flashes on the screen.

That’s right. This nearly plotless movie is supposed to be the first of a trilogy, so there really isn’t an end. Hell, even George Lucas had a climax at the end of the first/fourth Star Wars.

There are some good things about the flick. The acting is pretty good for a low budget film, and there’s no truly wooden acting among the bunch. And if gore is all you’re really interested in, the gore effects are quite good, and very over-the-top. The fetus scene certainly breaks new ground.

The biggest problem is the almost total lack of characterization. According to the screenwriter, this is more or less deliberate. He states on the making-of featurette that no one wants to see boring dialogue scenes. Maybe not, but if you want an audience to care about whether a character lives or dies, you’ve got to let them get to know the characters first. No one cares that much if cardboard gets chewed up.

There are also some technical issues with the DVD. It is presented in extremely wide screen, for no reason, so much so that I felt I was watching a movie through the crack under a door. There is also a herky jerky nature to motion in the movie. I am completely lost with technical issues, but I’d guess it was shot at 24 fp, and they failed to correct it during the editing process.

Recommended only for hardcore zombie-gore junkies.

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