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Death Valley:
The Revenge Of Bloody Bill
cast: Chelsea Jean, Jeremy Bouvet, Gregory Bastien, Denise Boutte, and Matt Marraccini

director: Byron Werner

79 minutes (18) 2004
Mosaic VHS rental or retail
Also available to rent or buy on DVD
[released 17 January]

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Emily Webb
A group of college students are on their way to a debate, when they stumble across Earl, a gun-toting criminal in search of a missing accomplice Darrel. The group ends up in the abandoned western town of Sunset Valley, which seems to be stuck in a permanent state of sunset. Luckily for Earl, he locates Darrel, but unfortunately for Earl, Darrel's been bitten by zombies...

Death Valley: The Revenge Of Bloody Bill has neither the big budget of the recent remake of Dawn Of The Dead or the humour of the brilliant Shaun Of The Dead. Billed as a 'zombie western', the legend of Bloody Bill (Confederate gunslinger Bill Anderson watches over Sunset Valley, his last resting place and vowed revenge over the town due to his death and the murder of his sister. "No-one leaves this town alive") sets up a plausible premise for some serious zombie entertainment.

The film is mercifully short at 79 minutes. But saying this, it is admirable for an independent production and the cast have obviously had drama/acting training of varying degrees. (A part in this film would do their CVs no harm.) The opening sequence is a bit cheesy and views like Miami Vice-in-the-desert when drug pusher Darrel takes a huge snort of cocaine, tries to chat up an undercover policewoman (unbeknownst to him he has a comical white cocaine moustache) then does wheelies in his sports car when he realises he's busted. I had my reservations at this point but then the scene of the attractive young students loading their car up to go on a road trip restored my faith temporarily that this was going to be a good horror flick. An interesting point to note is that this film uses references from some horror classics, the most obvious being the finale between lead actress Chelsea Jean and Bloody Bill, which is derived from Friday The 13th Part 2. For horror buffs, this is something that will be enjoyable to see.

The film is gory, the make-up effects credible and the death/thrash metal soundtrack attempts to give this an edge, just like the endless, jerky handheld sequences (the overuse of this technique irritated me after the first 15 minutes of the film). After a promising start, instead of being a fresh take on the zombie film like 28 Days Later, The Revenge Of Bloody Bill loses its momentum. The measure of a film's view-ability for me is when I start thinking of what I have to do for work or remember that I forgot to send a Christmas card to my husband's Aunty Betty in Abertillery, the film has lost me. Bloody Bill did this for me within its first half-hour, much to my disappointment.

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