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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bottom Feeder
Bottom Feeder
Genius Products // Unrated // April 3, 2007
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted April 16, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Any DVD knows that you can't trust a DVD by its cover...especially if that cover proclaims "Special Edition". By that same token, I try not to pre-judge a movie based solely on the company which has released the DVD. But, this isn't always easy. Take Archetype Films for example. I've seen three of their recent releases, UKM: Ultimate Killing Machine, Living Death, and Dead Mary and I've hated every one. So, it was with unintentional trepidation that I approached their latest release Bottom Feeder. I was surprised to find that I didn't hate the movie. It's not very good, but at least I didn't hate it.

As Bottom Feeder opens, we meet wealthy industrialist Charles Deaver (Charles Fitzpatrick). Having been severely burned in an auto accident, Deaver has hired scientist Nathaniel Leech (James Binkley) to help with his maladies. Leech has developed a drug which can repair damaged tissue -- however, there is a major side-effect, the subject will become very hungry and will need to feast on meta-protein (?!). If they eat anything else, their body will begin to mutate. Deaver is very interested in Leech's drug, but he's not about to test it on himself. So, Deaver's henchman...woman Krendal (Wendy Anderson) shoots Leech, injects him with the serum and then locks him in a service tunnel. Unfortunately, she doesn't place the meta-protein with him and Leech is forced to feast upon rats.

Meanwhile, a city clean-up crew, led by Vince (Tom Sizemore) and consisting of Vince's niece Sam (Amber Cull), Otis (Martin Roach), and Callum (Joe Dinicol), have received orders to clean up an abandoned building...which just happens to be the building where Leech is trapped. Arriving at the site, Vince's crew suddenly find themselves trapped between a mutating monster and a group of Deaver's well-armed thugs. Can they find their way through the tunnels to safety?

Bottom Feeder is the kind of low-budget movie which does many thing wrong, but it does one important thing right: it never pretends to be anything more than a monster movie. Writer/director Randy Daudlin has a background in special effects makeup and he's clearly set out to make a throw-back film which plays like the cheesy monster movies of yesteryear. The film reminded me of the kind of movies which I grew up watching on HBO -- you take a group of people, put them in an isolated location with a monster, and let the fun begin. The monster antics in Bottom Feeder aren't perfect (Leech continues to wear his slacks even after he mutates into a rat monster), but the film never shies away from violence and there are several gruesome deaths in the film. Also, the movie gets credit for a scene in which a character faces off against the monster.

But, like those 80s classics which aren't all that great in hindsight, Bottom Feeder struggles when the monster isn't on-screen. The film opens with way too much plot and the first scenes are excruciating as we wade through the story of Deaver's medical problems and Leech's research. This part of the film reminded me of a sci-fi/horror movie from the 50s which tries too hard to sound as if it's intelligent. After all of that, we then have to get acclimated to Vince and his crew -- and then follow the sub-plot of how Vince and Otis like to fence unclaimed property which they find while working. Which leads us to another mistake often made by films in this genre, there are no likable characters. The only truly nice person in the film is Sam, and she's too wishy-washy to like. Once the group gets into the tunnels, there is some action, but there's also a repetitive sense of watching people run up and down corridors for 30 minutes.

For the most part, the acting in Bottom Feeder is average. Sizemore reportedly walked off of the film before returning to complete his role, and his performance falls in line with his other work. Anderson (who resembles Gillian Anderson, but apparently isn't related) makes a great villain and she's very easy to hate. The real stand-out here is Fitzpatrick who, despite the fact that he's covered in special-effects make-up, manages to bring a range of emotions to Deaver.

Video

Bottom Feeder rises up to DVD courtesy of Peacearch Entertainment and Genius Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Judging from the camera viewed during the "making of" featurette on the DVD, the movie was shot on HD. That's most likely the case, because for a low-budget film, the image here looks very good. Simply jump to Chapter 2, which takes place outdoors in a park, and witness the crispness of the picture and the lush green of the grass. The interiors are somewhat dark at times, but the action is always visible. The image shows no grain and no overt haloes around objects. However, flesh tones look quite waxy at times.

Audio

The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The tracks provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fine and the attack scenes features some nice bass effects. However, I was quite disappointed in the surround sound. Given that most of the film takes place in a series of tunnels, the opportunity for a good surround mix is obvious, but the only surround effects are a few music cues and echoes.

Extras

The Bottom Feeder DVD offers only two extras. "Making of Bottom Feeder" (28 minutes) is comprised mostly of clips from the movie. There are comments from writer/director Randy Daudlin, and actors Tom Sizemore, Martin Roach, Wendy Anderson, and Amber Cull. In these interview segments, those involved with the film discuss the challenge of making a low-budget movie and the actors discuss their characters. The other extra is the "Original Theatrical Trailer" for the film, which is letterboxed at 1.78:1. What theater showed this trailer?


The Bottom Feeder DVD announces, "Two Stories Below Ground. One Level Above Hell." So, the story takes place near Hell? Do they have to stomp on the floor in order to get Satan to turn down his music? I don't know. What I do know is that Bottom Feeder is a pretty standard direct-to-DVD monster mash. The movie contains some nice moments with the monster, but otherwise it's boring. The good news is that this is a step in the right direction for Archetype Films.
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