Ed. note– True story. I was tempted to put a poo emoji in the spot above where I placed the poster for AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION. If you go no further in this review, you’ll at least know how I feel about this flick– P.F.
Don’t be fooled by the fancy title. Don’t let the fact that this is an American movie deceive you. And certainly don’t allow the copyright date to trick you. AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; though it was made in Florida in the new millennium, this really is the latest of the Italian zombie cycle from the 1980s.
Unfortunately, this isn’t from the Fulci end of the heap. No, AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION comes right out of the Umberto Lenzi/Bruno Mattei bottom of the pile. In fact, it manages to outtrash the output of those two masters of incompetence. In doing so, it bottoms out as the worst zombie flick I’ve ever seen. If you have even the slightest modicum of taste, you’ll find this flick to be a reprehensible attack on the art of film, an absolute flaming trash fire without any redeeming value. If you’re a fan of the 80s cycle, you’ll find reason to rejoice.
For only could a fan of that cycle could appreciate the gaping logical caverns in the film, which I really must note here with the bullets I wanted to aim at my head as I watched:
- The film opens with a mortician who works in a morgue (when he would rightfully be working in a funeral parlor)
- In a high school, a slobbering student attacks a teacher, and the school day goes on as if nothing out of the ordinary ever happened (police would have swarmed the school)
- A high school party is in full swing by 5:28 on a Monday night (I used to teach; this just doesn’t happen)
- As the state of Florida is faced with a zombie epidemic, a highway is empty and a city is vacant, with nary a car accident (there would be chaos if an entire city tried to evacuate)
- A falling teen smacks her face on the poolside, spouting blood over the side of the pool, and yet there’s not a drop of it in the water as she floats in the pool (blood spreads in water, but draining the pool would’ve cost more than AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION’s entire budget)
And by far, the greatest “WHAT THE F#&! AM I WATCHING?” moment I’ve ever experienced in a film:
- Lee, the high school janitor, is actually a military higher up who’s been hiding in custodial bliss for 35 years, as the army experiments on creating zombie super soldiers!
Only a fan of the Italians could appreciate the ultra-poor level of acting, where zombies run at their meal only after they’ve stood still on camera for five full seconds. Or a film that was cast off a Myspace page. Or the herky-jerky cinematography, which makes the whole affair seem as if it were shot with my old Nikon Coolpix 6 digital camera, and every sixth frame or so had been removed. Or several bizarre choices made by the characters, as they act in ways no real person would ever act, speaking some of the most absurd dialogue ever filmed.
And only such a fan could appreciate the film’s level and style of ultra-violence. Gallons upon gallons of blood flow freely in all directions, in kills that rip off a multitude of the Italian gore fests. Not only do many of these kills steal from Fulci’s ZOMBIE (writer/director Steven C. Miller actually has the balls to thieve the Olga Karlatos eye gag), but from all sorts of Eurotrash disasters. By far the movie’s most noteworthy death involves a pregnant partygoer. With it, the film manages to reach the absolute nadir of the whole Italian cycle. But sadly, even this cops from another movie; it’s a direct steal from Joe D’Amato’s cannibal flick ANTHROPOPHAGUS.
Most importantly, only someone out to please such a fan of the cycle could write and direct AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION and think he created something even remotely watchable. And Miller thinks just that. As proof, I refer you to his audio commentary, with producers William Clevinger and Mark Thalman. These three discuss the merits of just how much the flick “kicks ass,” in turn throwing the whole horror genre under the bus that is their $30,000 production. In true Italian schlockmeister fashion, at one point Miller admits that many of the kills were inspired by death scenes from horror flicks that he loved. Because no Italian director had anything in the way of originality.
And only someone who wanted to please fans of the Italians would take an ultra low budget zombie flick, which is all of 85 minutes long, leave it on a cliffhanger and have the testicles to end it with “To Be Continued.” Yes, dear fans of the Italian zombie cycle, AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION is the first of a proposed trilogy! (ZOMBIE 3, anyone? Thought not.)
Only such a fan would still be reading this review, at which point I’ll tell you to watch the truly special features for yourself (could any film not from this cycle boast an actor who can’t even pronounce the title?). If you love the film, you’ll love them too.
As for me, I have no love at all for AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION. I used to think that Lenzi’s NIGHTMARE CITY was the worst zombie flick I’d ever seen. It shines by comparison to Miller’s utter piece of trash. If Miller were your average guy, he’d take that as a grievous insult. If he’s a fan of the Italian zombie cycle, he’ll consider it the highest compliment.