Zombie Killers: Elephant's GraveyardOverview -
The rural town of Elwood has always been a "bubble" against the backdrop of an organism-based epidemic where infected humans don't die, instead they roam to spread the infection in a grisly, horrific way. Those who escape must survive—by any means necessary. But at what price? In the film, the "Zombie Killers" are a small band of young adults, trained by military vet Seiler (Billy Zane), who have sworn to protect the town and aim for the head if anything threatens Elwood's last survivors.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The market is completely saturated at this point in time with zombies. No matter where you look, there is a flesh-eater behind the corner, looking to take a bite of an appendage and turn you into the bloodthirsty undead. You just can't escape it. So of course, Harrison Smith (the guy who brought you the Corey Feldman gem, '6 Degrees of Hell'), had to let us know what he thought about the zombie genre and what new and fresh ideas he could bring to this world.
Despite some impressive sweeping shots that make this low budget zombie film look almost like a Hollywood blockbuster, as well as a few known actors such as Dee Wallace Stone, Mischa Barton, and Billy Zane, this zombie film never really goes anywhere, nor does it pack a big and powerful punch like it desperately wants to. Even the title is a bit misleading. 'Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard' does not in fact contain elephants nor a graveyard. Instead, the film centers on a town called Elwood, which is fenced off and looked after by a group of people who have dubbed themselves the 'zombie killers'.
The leader of this pack is Billy Zane himself, who proves to be the only one worthy of discussion in this film, because the rest of the dozens and dozens of characters are either on screen for a couple of minutes only, or their characters are so poorly fleshed out, that you can't begin to care for anything they do or say throughout the entire film. This town of Elwood seems to be the last place on Earth for human survivors to rest easily, due to the zombie apocalypse that was brought on by oil fracking. Yes, you read that correctly, oil fracking. Due to the caution the survivors use and the zombie killers doing their job, this town has stayed relatively safe.
However, there is something much more sinister than zombies trying to get in that might jeopardize the citizens of Elwood. And that is the main conflict we are dealing with here, which is a decent set up. Like in George Romero's Undead franchise or John Carpenter's 'The Thing', humans themselves may just turn out to be the real threat against each other, and that's what Harrison Smith tries to convey on film, but in doing so, he forgot to place zombies in his actual film. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.
Sure, zombies do show up, but it isn't until the final moments of the movie. Prior to an antic-climactic zombie horde towards the end of the film, we only see zombies from a distance if at all. Hell, I can't even remember a zombie munching down on anyone before the end, hence there is not a whole lot of gore or blood here. The dozens and dozens of characters in the film don't amount to much and their over-the-top melodrama, whether it be a love triangle, pregnancy, cancer, or something else, completely detracts from the situation at hand. Not to mention that all of these story lines receive enough attention, because they don't.
There are times when 'Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard' seems self aware of what exactly it is trying to be, but there are so many references or paying tribute scenes and dialogue to other films, that the story never really progresses past the fact that a director just wanted to throw in everything he thought he liked about zombies into one movie, and that's a shame, because it had promise.
'Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. While this low budget film might have some decent camera pans and shots in it and overall have a solid look to it, the video presentation has a few problems. The detail is very sharp and vivid, particularly in closeup shots of the actor's faces, which reveal fine textures in their costumes and faces. Wrinkles, blood, wounds, facial hair, and the gory makeup effects all look excellent here. You'll be able to make out each bubble, gash, and bead of sweat with this digital look. However, with all of the wider shots, big area pans and sweeps, the image turns soft. In the darker lit scenes, the image transforms into a murkier tone with a bit of fuzz.
Colors look decent, however have been toned down to give that look of decay. So don't expect the red blood or any of the blues or greens to pop off screen, as this is more of a dirty post-apocalyptic looking picture. The skin tones are natural, given the saturation adjustment and the black levels are somewhat deep and inky, but tend to get a bit fuzzy in the darker scenes. There were some minor issues with banding and video noise, but it's nothing to really get bent out of shape about. In all, this video presentation has a few problems, but it looks very good.
This release comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix and I was sorely disappointed with this audio presentation. This horror film in the zombie genre does not pack a powerful punch at all, nor is it fun. Besides when the music and score crescendoed in a few moments, the rear and surround speakers made zero noise. This is more of a 2.0 mix than anything, and that is completely annoying, given the type of film this is. The zombie growls and roars, each gunshot, and ambient noise of nature only comes through on the front speakers.
At first, I thought there was something wrong with my system, but then I heard the score finally trickle in. Even the bigger action scenes that have gun blasts and tons of chops and kicks don't pack that gritty and loud sound power that needs to be in these types of films. The bass is low and soft as well. Dialogue is always clear and easy to follow, but is never that dynamic. What a disappointing audio mix this is.
Bloodbath & Beyond (HD, 5 Mins.) - A few people from the YouTube channel 'Bloodbath & Beyond' travel to the set of the film and talk about their time on location. This is more of a promo for their YouTube channel than anything entertaining.
The Look of 'Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard' (HD, 6 Mins.) - The makeup effects team and production designer discuss the look of the zombies and the overall look of the film.
'Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard': Behind the Scenes (HD, 5 Mins.) - The cast and crew discuss what they thought of the film, their characters, and how much fun they had on set.
'Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard' lacks any real sense of direction, horror, and gore. It also tries too hard to be something more than it actually is. None of the characters or plots are fleshed out to a satisfying degree, leaving this zombie film best left in the grave, buried six feet down. The video looks decent, but the audio was down right uneventful. And the extras were more like promos rather than anything fun or informative. I hate to say it, but skip this one all together, unless Billy Zane personally calls you to watch it with him.
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