Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill

The Story Goes...
A debate team is on a trip to compete with another school. Along the way they are carjacked by Earl, a drug dealer with anger issues. They happen upon Sunset Valley, a zombie filled ghost town that is headed by Bloody Bill. Once they finally discover that something is wrong with the town, they attempt to leave, but always end up where they started Twilight Zone style. They must battle the zombies and Bill to come out alive.

Our heroine 
My thoughts...
The Asylum is well known today for its many rip-offs of summertime blockbusters that the company affectionately refers to as "mockbusters." Here are the titles to a few of their classics, just to give an idea of the quality of their films: Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers, The Da Vinci Treasure, I am Omega, and The Day the Earth Stopped (no I did not make these up)

Over the years they have found quite a niche and have become known for making these cash in movies that are usually released only days before the actual large budget films that they are based on. However, in the beginning The Asylum attempted to be just another straight to DVD studio that generated low budget "original" movies. Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill is one such movie.

The title character is based off of a real person, William Anderson. To be honest though, the character really doesn't share any actual history with the real man with the exception that they wear/wore similar clothes. This is not a biopic though, so it's better to not get all worked up over stupid inconsistencies. We're here for zombies and curses after all and questionable acting.

The first thing that I noticed during the opening chase scene and credits is the poor sound design. Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill has the same affliction that seems to plague both large scales and low grade films. Of course I'm talking about sudden drastic increases and decreases in volume when going back in forth between music and dialog. The choice of using heavy metal to "set the mood" doesn't do much to help the situation. In defense of Death Valley I have heard much worse examples of this problem, and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust comes to mind.
Bloody Bill's sister looks just like our lead character!
The acting is what I would expect from a low budget direct-to-video movie, and I have to admit that some of the performances are pretty laughable. Gregory Bastien, who plays Earl, is by and far my favorite character in the movie. His reactions often seem so out of place that I sometimes wonder if he's listening to the tone that the other actors are using. There are two great examples of his greatness. The first one is when one of the students, who apparently is a historian that specializes in the history of Bloody Bill, relates to the group that bill didn't like black people, and Earl runs up and begins threatening the boy for "having a problem with him." I can't help but to wonder if it's the actors fault for overacting way too much, or if it's just the general retardation of the script. In either case it's pretty funny. The second example is when Earl wants to correct the wrongs that he has committed in life by getting coked up and sacrificing himself by facing Bloody Bill so that the others can escape. The sight of a powered out man screaming unintelligible phrases while punching random zombies is cinematic gold in my book.

The characters are your typical morons that just happen to be led by my new best buddy Earl. He is a born leader who sticks to his guns and motivates others to do the same. There is a scene where Earl's drug contact comes crawling into a building that the group is in with his throat ripped out, and he is speaking with a demonic voice. A normal person would definitely find something to be amiss if a person is missing a throat and speaking like a demon, but not not these folks. Earl is super-normal, and he uses his charm and charisma to convince the others to stay in the zombie ridden town.
They call him...Earl
The zombies themselves are of the current running variety that has become so popular within the last decade. If you look closely there are times that it appears that you can actually see some of the zombies smiling. Most would assume that these are just low budget extras that are thrilled to be in the movie, but I think that the smiling zombies were intentionally placed there by Mr. Werner to possibly throw the characters off. Yes zombies are scary, but Welcome Wagon zombies are a little less scary...until they eat you. I prefer to give the director the benefit of the doubt.

The cinematagraphy  Death Valley: The Revenge of Blood is good, and I didn't notice anything completely amateur such as an unintentionally visible boom mic or anything. So that's saying something, right? The editing can get creative at times, but again, I've seen much worse. At least the story stays coherent, though always cheesy.

Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill is an ok zombie flick if you're bored. The effects aren't spectacular, but they're decent enough. It's clear that this is a low budget movie, and overall it shows, but it looks as though those who created it tried their best to make some lowbrow entertainment. On that level this still comes across as just ok.

In a nutshell, there is nothing special about this movie, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was completely forgotten as time passes. The Assylum has moved on and found their niche, so I guess we can't expect a sequel. That's not really that big of a shame, I guess.


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