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Death Valley:
The Revenge Of Bloody Bill

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 DVD Region 2 rental or retail
Also available to rent or buy on video

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
"Bill will kill!" proclaims the ad slogan. That he does, and with a certain enthusiasm of course, this being a fairly dependable exemplar of the zombie-revenge-western (and, well, perhaps it's the only example? - as nothing else, except Ghost Town, springs to mind). The story is almost moronically simple (a mixed bunch of students encounter supernatural threats in a supposedly haunted 'western' town), depending entirely on graphic mise en sc´┐Żne for its purely generic zombie horror affect.

The success of any horror flick, even a low-budget offering such as this, lies with its monster. Long dead but still restless, Confederate raider William 'Bloody Bill' Anderson lurks in the shadows of ghost town Sunset Valley, where it's always sundown and the town-gate's population sign increases its stated number of denizens each time someone gets killed by the existing, habitually flesh-hungry, inhabitants. Yes folks, people are dying to stay there.

One by one, the young cast falls prey (on screen or off it) to marauding zombies, and between these attack-episodes, the injured, frightened or simply bemused kids are often bickering among themselves over who's to blame for their predicament, or what they should try next in order to escape the doom that surely awaits them. Meeting up with a black crook, who's searching for his apparently deceitful drug-smuggling partner-in-crime (who, of course, has actually been eaten by the local ghouls), initially causes more problems for the college kids, but at least he's come to the scene armed, and seems to know a thing or two about handling potentially dangerous situations. As the cast run around town in the eerily perpetual dusk (you might imagine that filming at the 'magic hour' would add plenty of twilight atmosphere to the scenario but it doesn't), and discover that they are confined to the locality of its streets by some kind of magical spell, it soon becomes painfully obvious that any real surprises will have to wait until the final reel. Plucky heroine Gwen (Chelsea Jean, easily the best actor here - though, admittedly, that's not really saying much) fulfils the subgenre convention of 'final girl' well enough, but I'm hardly giving away the ending by telling you that much.

Death Valley: The Revenge Of Bloody Bill (no connection to Dick Richards' 1982 terror Death Valley, or any of those golden oldie horse operas) gets better as it lurches awkwardly towards it's virtually inevitable conclusion and twist ending. It boasts suitably violent mutilations, close-ups of ghastly zombie-bite infections, severed heads, gunshot blasts and much else besides - to keep the prosthetics and special makeup effects crew busy - that many of the horror fans out there will find enormously entertaining, I'm sure. I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, but it's a wheeze if approached in a tolerant frame of mind, and the grating heavy metal soundtrack is not really as distracting or off-putting as I thought it would be.

DVD extras: a rather mediocre 'making-of' featurette, plus the trailer.

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