Reviewed by: JimmyO
Steven C. Miller
William Howard Bowman
What's it about
The dead rise and start to feed on a small town with only a handful of survivors trying to escape. The living include a trio of buddies who try desperately to find out what the hell is with all these peeps trying to eat them.
Is it good movie?
It always surprises me when a horror movie about zombies shows up for review. Did the sarcasm in that read well? Okay, I get a ton. Many of them I like and many of them I don’t. My first reaction to Automaton Transfusion was that I kind of dug the cover art. It is one hell of a tease and it makes it seem like you are going to get a really nasty little horror flick. But this teens in peril of a bunch of zombies is not necessarily the bloodiest or the goriest flick you’d expect it to be. Don’t get me wrong, considering the budget, there is enough gore to satisfy those in search of a blood soaked zombie fest. You get heads being ripped off, limbs ripped apart and even a fetus being eaten. And all of this is done to a very limited budget which wears it’s independence proudly on its sleeve.
So you have three dudes played by Garrett Jones, William Howard Bowman and Rowan Bousaid who are on their way to a bar to see the band Dancefloor Tragedy. The cooler, punk rocker guy decides that his more popular girlfriend (Juliet Reeves) should go to a party alone because he doesn’t like her friends. Ironically, neither did I. So on the way to the show, the threesome notice that nobody is on the road during rush hour. When they arrive at the bar, the streets are empty and something is definitely wrong in this town. So as they get out of the car, a large group of fast moving zombies surround them. And these undead folk are really fast, leaving these fools very little time to get to a safe place. For some reason, the following sequence reminded me of Shaun of the Dead, but not quite as cool.
Well, the rest is exactly what you would expect, a zombie film with a handful of survivors who are constantly running from a bunch of flesh eaters. Although these walking corpses have a great sense of smell and are quick to get to the next meal. What I liked about Transfusion is the pure adrenaline and seriousness with which they approach the subject. It is a movie with flesh being torn and eaten and a bunch of quick cuts with guts flying everywhere. I enjoyed the freshness of the cast and the delivery of gore galore. Filmmaker, Steven C. Miller really enjoys this genre and it shows. Absolutely no new territory is explored, but a bunch of no-name actors playing with intestines and all sorts of goodies still add a bit of charm. This was just a fun time.
With all that goodness, I had some problems with the film. The main one is that the “gritty” look gets a bit tedious. The camera tricks seemed a little redundant, especially the constant changing of the speed of the film. It felt like they could have done less and made the film a bit more interesting without it feeling like it is trying too hard. I really do miss the days when a camera could stay in one place for more than two seconds. I didn’t mind that it looked a little crazy because it did work often enough, but for some reason, it was just too much and became a distraction. I was truly hoping for a long shot with nothing going on and even a small amount of conversation. And I won’t even get into the massive plot holes and dumb character moments. Every time a character would make a suggestion of what to do, I couldn’t help but laugh. “Hey! We need to get to the school where there are destined to be a ton of dead people to eat us.” And just wait until the surprise “ending”, it’s certainly going to piss more than a few people off.
Video / Audio
Video: The budget really shows up in this Widescreen transfer. This is not a terrific transfer, but it is a really cheap film so what can you do?
Audio: The Dolby 5.1 sounded much better. It was a big improvement over the image.
This is where you find the real charm with Automaton Transfusion. These special features are quite tasty.
The Commentary with writer/director Steven C. Miller and producers William Clevinger and Mark Thalman is extremely entertaining. I think that young filmmakers should share as much as they possibly can and these guys do just that. They talk about the budget, the cast of unknowns, and the ending of the film.
Also terrific is Trials and Tribulations: The Making of Automaton Transfusion (25:39). This is a pretty in-depth behind the scenes and it is a great watch for anyone making a low-budget movie. One of the best moments comes when some dude has a fit that they are coming to film near his home, even though they have paid to use that area. Man, I was pissed at that guy. And this little feature offers up more love for the zombie fetus feast.
The Deleted Scenes are not as useful. They include “Mayhem Montage”, “House Party”, “Directors Death” and “Producers Death”. You can even watch them with commentary but frankly, you won’t miss much if you skip this one.
Next up is a short film from Mr. Miller called Suffer or Sacrifice (4:54). Now to be fair, this was part of a 48 hour film festival where you have to complete an entire film in 48 hours. But truthfully, this didn’t work for me. Damn shaky cam.
Finally we have a couple of music videos for “Can You Hear Me Now” by Blinded Black and “Arsenaholic” by Dancefloor Tragedy. Both are decent songs and sorta kinda cool videos. I prefer the Blinded Black tune, although it is very “emo”, so if that is not your thing, you probably won’t be a fan. And don’t forget, there is a Trailer for the film plus a few others including “The Mist”, “Rogue”, “Planet Terror”, “Rob Zombie’s Halloween” and “Furnace”.
Here is another zombie film with a handful of survivors who have to fend themselves from the living dead. And again, there is some experiment causing this to happen. This is heavily influenced by movies like the Dawn of the Dead remake and even a little Shaun of the Dead for good measure. Nothing original but I still enjoyed myself enough for a mild recommendation with a likeable, yet amateurish cast, and plenty of gore to go. Not necessarily the greatest horror film of the decade, but it does have something that all of the best indie horror films have… a whole lot of genre heart.