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Snuffin' Zombies (2007)

Snuffin Zombies


Snuffin' Zombies is film put together basically by one guy.   The jobs of writer, director, producer, editor and lead actor are all handled by Karl Benacci.  Snuffin' Zombies is not only the first feature length film that Karl has done by himself; it's the first film he's been involved with at all.  Other than writing, Karl had absolutely no experience with filmmaking before Snuffin' Zombies.  He made this film to give himself some exposure as a writer.  With that in mind, you've got to respect the guy for all of the work it took to get this film made and released on DVD regardless of how the final film turned out.  This movie is not the best independent movie that I've ever seen, but it's probably not the worst either.  In fact, for a first attempt at a film, Snuffin' Zombies isn't as bad as it could have been.  It is bad, but it could have been worse.

The packaging for the film looks professional.  Snuffin' Zombies is a great title and the basic idea for the film is pretty cool: A down on his luck looser named Frank gets a job making snuff films with the help of his mentally challenged friend, Ralphie, but the victims have been reanimated and are looking for revenge.  Unfortunately, the actual film doesn't really live up to the original idea.  The first third film is spent setting up just how much of a looser Frank is by showing scenes of him oversleeping for work, getting fired, getting drunk and making a fool of himself at the local bar and hanging out with Ralphie.  The second third of the film is spent showing the killings, which consist of numerous bland scenes of Frank shooting someone in a warehouse while Frankie video tapes.  In the end, there is less than a third of the film spent on zombies at all.  Only a few minutes of that time is devoted to the unsuccessful attempts at snuffin' them, so the title Snuffin' Zombies, although very cool, unfortunately has little to do with the film.

The story is pretty good, but technical problems with the shooting and the way the film was edited combined with the amount of time spent on certain aspects of the story end up making Snuffin' Zombies somewhat tough to sit though.  Some problems were relatively minor such as incorrect brightness settings, poor shot composition and overly simple graphics on the opening credits.  Other problems, such as audio, were much larger.  Volumes fluctuated constantly.  At times, it was almost impossible to hear the dialog of one actor in a scene while the other actor's dialog was loud and clear.  Actor Robert Muye seemed to whisper every line of dialog which may have been a problem with microphone placement or may have been the line delivery itself.  Either way, it resulted in making it tough to understand anything he said and he was one of the main four actors.  A windscreen was needed for the microphone in almost all of the outdoor shots and since one was not used, the wind was often louder than the dialog.  Some of the music used in the movie was actually really good.  In fact several of the songs sounded very professional and worked well in the film, but other songs sounded like they were recorded on a cheap keyboard.

The film also lacked all of the gore you might expect to find in a movie called Sunffin' Zombies.  The gunshots resonated like the snap of a cap gun and the use of fake blood was minimal.  Beyond the tiny amount fake blood, there was absolutely no gore at all.  The zombie makeup itself was so minor that it could have been mistaken for a change in lighting.  Also, it was strange to see a zombie kill someone by strangulation and then not eat the victim.

In terms of editing, there were a lot of unnecessarily long pauses between lines and awkward, random shots.  I wouldn't be surprised if ten minutes could have been cut from the film without removing a single scene or even a single line of dialog just by trimming some of the dead space.  
I often get the feeling that independent filmmakers making their first no budget or low budget movie are trying to stretch it out as long as possible.  From what I've seen, it's really better to keep it as short as possible when making a cheap film.  Some filmmakers may be trying to make sure that the film is considered a feature length film.  I've read different information about how long a film needs to be in order to be considered a feature length, but I can't think of ever reading anywhere that it needs to be more than 80 minutes.  At 105 minutes in length, Snuffin' Zombies could have been cut a good bit and still considered a feature film by any standards.

In the end, Snuffin' Zombies succeeds in giving Mr. Benacci a film for his resume.  If he decides to continue making independent films, it should also serve as the best possible lesson he could get in filmmaking.  His future work is sure to benefit from the experience.  As a writer, Karl now has a firsthand knowledge of many elements of filmmaking and can relate better to people he will work with in the industry.  None of that makes Snuffin' Zombies a film that I would recommend to anyone, but it does justify it's existence.


Gore-o-meter rating: 0 out of 5 (there's a tiny bit of blood, but not much for a zombie film)

Skin-o-meter: 0 out of 5 (no nudity)