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3/30/08

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I appreciate the craft and hard work that goes into any film, even if the final result isn't all it was meant to be. I'm doubly impressed by the work put into indie films. And I'm not talking about something like Pulp Fiction, that has a relatively huge budget, movie stars and professional crew. I'm talking about true independents, films that have zero connections to Hollywood, that are made completely outside of the system, with thread bare budgets. Automaton Transfusion is such a film, made in Florida, with a budget under $100K, and not a single recognizable actor.

I'm usually much easier on such films, because I know exactly how much love and hard work is donated in making a film like this. So while I wouldn't rate this as a fantastic film, I'm deeply impressed by what they were able to create. The filmmakers said screw-it in trying to develop a unique story, they used as few dialogue scenes as possible, and focused all their attention on creating some serious gore. They knew that hardcore horror fans would forgive the bad acting and the cliche' ideas, if they were fully entertained by the sight of nonstop blood.

It's a normal Friday afternoon in Grover City, a few high school seniors have a night of partying ahead of them, but things go awry when a horde of zombies attack their town and they're forced to fight for their lives. That's about it on the plot. One minute their biggest problem is a pimple, the next they're running to literally save their skin. Near the end of the film, the film comes to a screeching halt with a poorly done scene of exposition, as a soldier explains why everything just happened and also sets up the sequel. The filmmakers planned on turning Automaton Transfusion into a trilogy, and the film ends with a: to be continued...

However, you don't watch zombie films for originality, you watch them for bodies being torn apart and eaten. Automaton Transfusion has that in spades. Despite the low budget, they went all out on the gore. Every body part imaginable is ripped off in waves of the sticky red stuff. They created the most imaginative death I've ever seen in a zombie flick, as a girl's unborn baby is torn out of her stomach and bitten into, while she screams helplessly, before getting eaten herself. It's so disgustingly perverse, so over the edge, that I actually cheered when it happened. There are never ending waves of zombies, the filmmakers got every friend and friend of friends to show up to get turned into the undead. They're the new-style zombies, quick moving, with a touch of smarts in how to get to their victims.

If you're any kind of horror fan, you have to do yourself a favor and see this film. What it lacks in acting, most of the characters are seriously bad, the less talking the better; and story, it's your basic military experiment gone wrong plot; it more than makes up for in stylized gore. The make-up artists did a great job
in creating some seriously sick imagery. They even got their city to shut down a few blocks, to add to the authenticity. There was one thing about the filmmaking that bugged me all the way through, I'm not sure if they were trying to get a film look out of their video source, but the whole film has that skipped-frame look. You know like some of the battle scenes in Gladiator, it's an effect that should be used sparingly, and they went a little nuts with it here.

Ultimately I believe that
writer/director Steven C. Miller has a very promising future in horror. With Automaton Transfusion he created a lot out of a little, if he gets any kind of budget and a decent script, he could create a classic horror film. - Grade: B+




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