Bottom Feeder (2006)
By: Craig Villinger on April 23, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Peace Arch Entertainment (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. 86 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Randy Daudlin
Starring: Tom Sizemore, Wendy Anderson, Charles Fitzpatrick, Amber Cull, Martin Roach
Screenplay: Randy Daudlin
Music: Ryan Latham
Tagline: Evil lies beneath the surface
Country: Canada
Not so long ago Tom Sizemore was on Hollywood's A-list working with directors like Oliver Stone and Steven Spielberg, but his fall from grace was swift and scandalous. Now however, after battles with drug addiction, bankruptcy, time in the big house, and a stint as an internet porn sensation, Sizemore is clawing his way back, and while starring in straight to DVD monster flicks might not be the best way to get the major studios to return your calls once again it does give smaller distributors a chance to slap the name of a bona fide movie star on their slicks, and gives fans the opportunity to see well known actors in the sorts of cheapo films that are not renown for their star power.

Wealthy businessman Charles Deaver has searched the earth for a way to reverse his disfigurement after being horribly burned in a car accident, and he may have found it thanks to the brilliant Nathaniel Leech. Leech has developed a serum which can supposedly re-generate dead cells in the human body, but without any test results to back up these claims Deaver is apprehensive – so he orders his underlings to shoot Leech in the legs, pump him full of his own serum, and dump him in the sewer for twenty four hours. If they come back a day later and find Leech cured, then great – the serum works and Leech will be a rich man. If not… well, Leech's legs won't be the only part of his body with bullet holes in them. Unfortunately for all concerned however the serum has its side effects, including a voracious appetite, and possible mutations…

At the same time an industrial cleaning crew led by Tom Sizemore has been tasked with clearing out an abandoned medical facility and the tunnels beneath it – which just so happen to be the very same tunnels that the unfortunate Dr. Leech is now trapped in. Before long, they too find themselves trapped in the sewers and on the run, trying to avoid Deaver's hired guns who are now roaming the sewers in search of Dr. Leech, and Leech himself – who is quickly mutating into a vicious human/rat hybrid after attempting to quell his serum induced hunger by gorging on sewer vermin!

With his debut feature writer/director Randy Daudlin delivers a familiar monster movie premise, but attempts to make up for this lack of originality with a mix of old school creature effects and splattery carnage. Does he succeed though? Well, kind of. The story may be clichéd, but Daudlin's script never takes itself too seriously and is peppered with well written dialogue and a group of amiable characters.

As expected, Sizemore is solid as the everyday blue collar worker who finds himself forced to play the hero, and although obviously running on auto-pilot he brings his natural likeability to the role. Special mentions must also go to Charles Fitzpatrick as the sinister Deaver, whose performance is enhanced by some grotesque effects make-up, and Wendy Anderson as Deaver's cold hearted assistant Miss Krendall - a thoroughly reprehensible bitch who is also quite alluring in that power suite wearing man eater sort of way.

Depending on your tastes, Bottom Feeder's creature effects will be a moderate selling point or a major deterrent. There's no CGI here folks – just a guy running around in a rubber suit with a lot of prothetic make-up on, and while that's fine with me, fans of more elaborate effects work may be disappointed by the simple, yet effective, man/rat creation.

Blood and gore wise we get a mix of old fashioned splatter and a few not-so-welcome moments of GGI spurting, and while the splatter is hardly excessive and isn't enough to earn the film 'gore-fest' status, the claret does flow on several occasions as the creature tears off limbs, heads, and even one unfortunate characters' jaw bone! Daudlin also compliments the creature carnage with a couple of fast-paced action scenes – in fact, one of the films highlights is a sequence where Deaver's Asian assistant, wielding twin blades, takes on the man/rat in a well choreographed fight to the death. Guess who wins that one?

Although I had a good enough time with Bottom Feeder, its appeal is almost certainly limited. Despite (or perhaps because of) the presence of a big time Hollywood player the film was obviously shot with a very low budget, and those who lean towards the more grandiose studio horror flicks may very well be bored by the overall lack of flashiness on display here. The competent make-up effects and smatterings of gore should be enough to satisfy easygoing creature feature enthusiasts, but if the thought of watching a mutant man/rat lumber through a sewer system doesn't sound appealing then you are definitely not part of this films' target audience.
Bottom Feeder presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. The movie was shot on HD and shows just how much the visual quality of these SOV productions has improved since the days of the camcorder, with the early daytime sequences in particular looking magnificent. When the action movies into the darker sewers the quality drops slightly, but thankfully the director and the DOP were obviously aware of the formats limitations and never turned the lights down too low. Overall, Bottom Feeder has been given a solid transfer, and any faults are obviously due to the source material, not the DVD authoring.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is our only option here, and it's good without being exceptional. Dialogue and sound effects are always clear and free of distortion, but the rear channels are used scarcely. Some of the underground sequences would have benefited greatly from an aggressive sound mix but sadly this is a front heavy audio presentation, with only the occasional scream and creature growl coming through the rears.
Extra Features
Not a whole lot in the extras department. A 28 minute making-of contains interviews with Randy Daudlin, Tom Sizemore, and several other cast members, but unfortunately the interviews aren't very engrossing and a good chunk of the featurette's running time is taken up by clips from the movie. Sizemore is covered with fake blood during his interviews, which ads a slightly bizarre touch.

We also get trailers for Bottom Feeder, The Mad, Dead Mary, Living Death, and UKM: Ultimate Killing Machine.
The Verdict
Bottom Feeder is not as entertaining (or expensive) as Tom Sizemore's first star vehicle, The Relic, but fans of low budget creature features should find just enough here to keep them happy. Those who prefer complex plotting, slick production values, and non-mutating characters should probably try something else.
Movie Score
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