Dir: Various
Star: Bill Oberst Jr

This anthology takes various short films from around the world and combines them into a single entity, glued together by bridging segments set in a supposed news station, with Oberst playing anchorman, Martin Gloat. He has been bitten, and gradually "decays" over the course of the broadcast from a regular human to a zombie. It's a radically mixed bag, but doesn't work overall, mostly because there is absolutely no consistency of theme or approach. The shorts are so radically different in style, you rarely get the sense they inhabit the same cinematic universe at all, beyond being (more or less) about zombies. Some are funny, some bleak. Some are heavy on the gore, to the point it becomes cartoonishly excessive. Others are entirely dry of body fluids. Trying to shoehorn them all into a single setting increasingly detracts from each, because there are elements which don't fit the narrative constructed by the preceding entries. On the whole, it would probably have been better if they'd simply left them as standalone entities, or if the shorts had been commissioned for the purpose, with the makers given a set of rules, to provide a foundation on which to base their work.

This doesn't mean the individual entries themselves are worthless, just that the whole ends up being a good deal less than the sum of its parts. We were familiar with a couple previously: Teleportal screened at our 3rd Phoenix Fear Film Festival, back in 2010, and a DVD copy of Fist of Jesus was actually propped on the lintel above the TV set, like a shrine, when we watched this compilation. The latter, along with the same film-makers' Brutal Relax, probably counted as the most memorable components, sharing a similar, cheerfully excessive approach to proceedings, with buckets of energetically inventive (if cheap) gore. Expand those two up to an entire feature - A History of the World With Zombies, Part 1, if you like - and we'd be sold. The rest is a bit hit and miss, to put it charitably. I'll confess to dozing off during one of the shorts (name with-held to protect the guilty party!), and there's certainly too much miss to label the overall result a success. It's nice to see short films receiving any kind of commercial distribution; that's a rarity in itself. However, neither the format nor the inconsistent tone found here do them justice.

[March 2015]

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