Brain-dead: AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION (2007)
AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION is one of those movies that does well on the festival circuit and gets picked up for distribution, not because anyone sees any real merit in it, but because someone thought it was enjoyable and thought it had a chance at making money. As a direct-to-DVD release, it has most certainly made money, and I’ve put off watching it for the sheer lack of interest. In short, I thought it was probably just another crappy HD horror movie shot cheaply by some film students over the course of a week and then shuffled onto the shelves at Blockbuster so the unsuspecting masses could fork over their cash to see something that really isn’t any good.
But then something funny happened. I saw many positive reviews of the film online, especially at Indie sites that tend to have pretty decent credibility and it was getting pretty good word of mouth. So, this weekend, I took a chance and watched it, and I was ill prepared for the horror that awaited me. Not only was AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION everything I thought it would be, but it was one of the worst viewing experiences I’ve had this year.
Oh, how I long for the days when, in order to make your first film, you had to mortgage your house and sell your body to science and max out your credit cards and hope that what you made was something someone would want to pay you money for. At least there were several factors, like shooting on film, having decent editing equipment, and believable effects and acting work, that could contribute to the enjoyment of said film.
This monstrosity was shot over nine days on a $30,000 budget, and contains what I consider to be the absolute worst example of editing on HD video ever perpetrated by a major release. Seriously, between the lag and the grainy texture of the footage, I couldn’t tell if they had just edited and rendered their movie on a sub-par Mac book sitting on their buddy’s dorm room desk, or if they were simply content making whatever shitty decision was available at the time. At least when I think they used the Mac, it doesn’t bother me as much because they probably had their minds in the right place.
That being said, and apart from the production “values” of it, AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION suffers from several factors that are purely problems with the film itself, and include but are not limited to its unimaginative script, horrible acting (even by lo-budget horror standards), and the unforgivable sin of uninvolving and completely lackluster zombie effects - something that should be essential in creating a zombie movie.
The story concerns three friends who are going to see a concert in the city, and when they arrive, are overrun by zombie hordes and escape back into suburbia. Oh yeah, there are also some people at a party who get attacked, and one of them is one of the main guy’s sort-of girlfriend, and he needs to get back to save her from the onslaught...yadda yadda yadda. It’s all been done before, and it’s redone here, only with worse acting. Seriously, can someone please make a zombie movie that doesn’t involve the main character having to go back into the horror and save someone he loves? It’s tired, it’s unconvincing when you can’t even believe either character would even touch the other, and perhaps worst of all, this concerns characters in high school. Can we please stop casting people who are very, painfully, obviously much older than high school age to play teenagers? It hasn’t worked since PORKY'S.
I know this isn’t a proper “review,” per se, but I thought it was terrible enough to merit this ranting condemnation. As for zombie horror, I’ll take Romero, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and 28 DAYS/WEEKS LATER almost every time. I will, however, recommend finding a downloadable version of this just to see the one worthwhile scene: a fetus, ripped from its mother’s womb and eaten. Other than that (and possibly that included), this movie is a disgrace.