Plot: What’s it about?
Ah, the days of youth can be filled with fun times, including pulling pranks with your buddies, as the three friends here often did. But when they become involved in someone’s death by total accident, the pranks become serious, to say the least. The victim of this accident happened to be the son of Abigail (Debbie Rochon), a gifted witch of the black arts who now seeks vengeance against those who harmed her son. In order to attain her revenge, she transforms into a beautiful young woman and plots to seduce the threesome. This might sound good since she’s a hottie, but rest assured, there is immense evil in her seductive ways. As a result of these sexual unions, Abigail is able to spawn strange eggs and instead of eating them, she plants them and when they’ve grown, that means serious trouble. After some time passes, hideous ghouls arise from the ground and they’ve got bad attitudes, which Abigail is more than happy to direct toward those kids who wronged her son. Can the three friends somehow manage to survive Abigail’s supernatural fiends, or have they pulled their final prank?
As with a lot of low budget horror movies, I wouldn’t say that Dead & Rotting is scary in the usual sense, but it is an entertaining picture. You can tell there was little funds to go around, but the filmmakers manage to make the finances stretch, with solid production design, the presence of Debbie Rochon, and of course, some nice blood soaked moments of carnage. The premise seems a little rehashed, but gets better as the details unfold and while the dialogue is cheese laden, it adds a lot to be entertainment value, which is good news. Rochon is fun to watch as the malicious witch Abigail, while a cast of mostly unknowns, locals, and Full Moon regulars file in to handle the other roles throughout. The acting is over the top to be sure, but it works well within the framework of the movie, so no complaints there. I think the final call on Dead & Rotting will depend on your taste for low budget horror, as this is not the best example of the genre, but it is a solid effort that genre fans should find worthwhile. Tempe has pulled out all the stops with this special edition, which is limited to just two thousand copies, at a reasonable price of under twenty bucks. So if you’re at all interested, this disc is more than recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Dead & Rotting is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This movie was shot on digital video and then treated with special software to look more like real film, so while the low budget roots are obvious, I can’t imagine a better looking presentation. As it was a digital production, you’ll see no nicks or marks, but the Filmlook process has caused some grain to be evident, though it isn’t too serious. The colors and contrast look solid also, though not as refined as in your bigger budget projects, though that should be expected. So yes, the image here has some flaws, but they’re due to the production & equipment limitations, not this transfer. It doesn’t look perfect, but it looks as good as possible, which is all we can ask.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a little much at times, but it is eons better than most low budget horror movie soundtracks. The surrounds are used often and to good ends, with atmospheric presence and of course, screams and such. But this is where my main complaint comes in, as it seems like the rear channels have mixed too loudly, as they sometimes overpower the other elements. This usually results in having to strain to understand dialogue, but it is not usually bad, though it is worth a mention here. Even so, you have to commend Tempe for putting so much effort into the audio here, solid overall work.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc is loaded down with supplements, including an audio commentary track with director David Barton, actor Tom Hoover, and the man behind the music, Jon Greathouse. I enjoyed this track a lot, as Barton details the ins & outs of making a low budget horror movie, never shying away from telling the behind the scenes horror stories. In addition, you’ll hear some humorous anecdotes from the set, the inside jive on the cast members, and learn about low budget horror from Hoover’s perspective as an actor, as well as numerous other topics. An interview with Barton is also found here, in which he details his career and interest in filmmaking, with a total time of around fifteen minutes. A half hour reel of Barton’s 8MM short films also make the cut here, as well as a nice makeup effects featurette, a selection of still photos, a reel of early makeup effects work, a behind the scenes featurette, and the film’s trailer. But that’s not all, as we also have the hilarious Filthy McNasty short film, a crude, but priceless piece of horror/comedy that shouldn’t be missed by any horror fan. A special audio commentary track is even included for Filthy McNasty, as well as a promo trailer for Low Budget Pictures.