Feeding the Masses (2004)
By: Devon B. on April 13, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
ei Independent Cinema (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 81 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Richard Griffin
Starring: Billy Garberina, Rachel Morris, Patrick Cohen, Michael Propster
Screenplay: Trent Haaga
Country: USA
'We hold Feeding the Masses on a higher level than any of the three "of the Dead" films by George A. Romero.' – Screaming Stoner Video. That's one of the quotes on the front of Feeding the Masses' cover. Bold statement. Does the film live up?

Feeding the Masses has an interesting idea. As usual with walking dead flicks, a virus has zombified people, but the main focus is how the media and government try to keep the public calm. Our 'heroes' are a news crew, including a cameraman (played by someone who must've graduated from the Jack Black school of life) who is against the deception. Even with his conscience bothering him, he goes out and films stuff for the news. The crew are on site for a major announcement that the downtown area is safe for people to visit again for the first time since the plague struck. Unfortunately, during the announcement, zombies assault the area. Despite this slight setback, the media still says everything is fine downtown. The cameraman is troubled that the misinformation will cost lives, but isn't sure what to do.

Feeding the Masses' performances vary, but can be very bad. Most of the leads are thankfully decent, and one thespian to watch out for is the guy who seems to have tried to play his part as a fusion of Adam West as Batman and an impression of JFK. Sadly, the lesser performances by supporting players hurt the overall story. This is regrettable because the script has some wit and skill. The film is written by Trent Haaga, one of the few people to come off as having enough brain cells to operate a spoon in Troma's Apocalypse Soon documentary, and his script suffers from the lesser acting. Not that all the dialogue is superb, but the story and writing are much better than general for this level of filmmaking. There are a few oddities in the script, most notably a sniper out of left field…well, actually out of a window, but in other areas the story strays from the norm very nicely and keeps the film engaging. Aside from a pace killing, soul-searching monologue, I can't fault the script for much.

Along with a good script, Feeding the Masses sports prominent Paul Verhoeven influences via satirical ads and inserts. While these don't always succeed, one filmmaker that just isn't emulated enough is Paul Verhoeven, so I was very happy to see this style being utilized. Some of the best inserts include a funny re-death ad (perhaps also inspired by Stacy) and a TV station 'lovingly' remembering one of their own.

As for the production values, here the budget becomes apparent. While some impressive stuff is pulled off, there's also quite a bit that just looks silly. The CG gunfire just looks terrible, as do the CG explosions and fire. The gore is sparse in the film, and the zombie makeup is unimpressive. Companies in the Feeding the Masses world also seem to have done away with having logos printed on their vehicles, and have all sent away for A3 banners to put over a rear passenger window. I could forgive all that, but then there're the picket signs. The picket signs look shoddy and cheap. How expensive is it to make picket signs?! Would it have required an extra texter to make the lettering bold? What was the problem here?

Anyway, Feeding the Masses is an interesting movie, and even if you hate it, there's some cool horror posters featured in the lead's flat.
Video
Feeding the Masses is presented in 16x9 enhanced widescreen at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The film was shot DV, but appears to have been film looked. The transfer's sharp. There is some video grain, but it's rarely distracting. The film doesn't look like a high budget Hollywood release, but it looks good for what it is.
Audio
The audio is a 2-channel mix. The track echoes a bit, sound levels can change, and the mix is somewhat murky. Presumably this is due to the master, not the DVD transfer. The commentary track is distorted, like the participants are speaking through a transistor radio.
Extra Features
There are quite a few extras on hand. There's Shock-O-Rama - A year of shocks, which is really just an ad for the label, like what would go on a screener. The only bit of interest therein is the promise of the low budget brilliance that is Criminally Insane. There's the trailer for Feeding the Masses, plus trailers for a bunch of other EI releases, only a few of which feature Misty Mundae. Two short films are included, with optional commentary. The first, Voltagen, is the usual artsy bullshit that seems to make up the short film world, and was co-produced by Texas Chain Saw scribe Kim Henkel. The other short, Hypostatic Union, starts with a dead coyote being ground into dirt by a boot. That won me over…at least this film was truly short.

For more pertinent extras, there's a 30-minute behind the scenes. I was actually whingeing to my partner about having to watch a 30-minute behind the scenes, but fortunately a cue was taken from Troma about this sort of feature. While this isn't as entertaining or tight as Apocalypse Soon, it's got some amusing stuff. There's also a commentary featuring the star and the director. The track reveals that the worst line in the film wasn't Haaga's. It's a good, rapid paced track, and the two commentators are interesting guys.
The Verdict
Feeding the Masses tries to be an intelligent, subversive film, and mostly succeeds. The twisted sex show is worth seeing the film for alone, and the bleak, interesting ending certainly ends the film with the right tone. I'd warn against reading the DVD sleeve as it gives away too much information, but then again it's not entirely accurate, so maybe it won't hurt your enjoyment of the film after all.
Movie Score
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