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Redneck Zombies (Degausser Video) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Redneck Zombies (Degausser Video) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Degausser Video
    Released on: January 30th, 2024.
    Director: Pericles Lewnes
    Cast: W.E. Benson, Lisa DeHaven, William W. Decker, James Housely, Floyd Piranha
    Year: 1988
    Purchase From Amazon

    Redneck Zombies – Movie Review:

    "They're Tobacco Chewin', Gut Chompin', Cannibal Kinfolk from Hell!"

    Directed by Pericles Lewnes on weekends over the course of a year with a cast primarily made up of friends for less than the cost of a good used car, 1988's Redneck Zombies was, thanks to distribution through Troma, a staple of horror sections in video stores across the land when first released. Reissued the first time on DVD with a truly lousy looking transfer, when the movie's twentieth anniversary rolled around Troma decided to treat the title right and got Lewnes and company as involved with the disc as possible. Now the movie lives again, this time on Blu-ray as the inaugural release from Vinegar Syndrome sub-label, Degausser Video!

    The movie is based around an incident where a lone soldier is driving on a country road in his Jeep transporting a barrel of toxic waste. When he goofs up and it rolls out of the Jeep and down a hill, he goes to fetch it but instead winds up on the business end of a redneck's shotgun. It's his land, and now it's his barrel. Our brave soldier hightails it out of there but the barrel winds up in the hands of an aged hillbilly and his three dimwitted sons who insist on using it as a still to make their moonshine in. Inevitably the radiation gets into the hooch and turns the rednecks into a horde of flesh eating zombies! Meanwhile, a group of campers are in the area just looking for a good time - you can probably figure out pretty easily what happens next… and thankfully those campers brought deodorant. While all of this is going on a weird guy called 'The Tobacco Man' is running around selling chaw with a burlap sack on his head.

    Redneck Zombies doesn't take itself very seriously and neither should you. The comedy here is goofy, corny and absolutely intended to come across that way - and occasionally it's actually pretty clever. Lots of bad puns and goofy slapstick with the various rednecks that populate the movie, one camper who does nothing but drink booze without ever saying a word, and some great scenery chewing performances keep things fun throughout. One of the rednecks, played by the director, is a big burly bearded guy who wants to be called Ellie May. The movie does take a surprisingly dark turn towards the end, when the campers’ numbers are quickly dwindling and one character winds up in an eerie old farmhouse that isn't as empty as it might seem. This scene actually feels like an homage in a way to the ending of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and while it can't quite match the intensity or balls out feeling of pure horror that Hooper's film serves up, it definitely earns points for trying.

    Loaded with tons of great, eighties-era practical makeup and gore effects, the film is chocked with some serious splatter and great melting/oozing stuff going on throughout the last half of the film at a ridiculous rate.

    Redneck Zombies – Blu-ray Review:

    Degausser Video brings Redneck Zombies to region free Blu-ray “Newly transferred and restored from the best quality archival tape master“ taking up 12.2GBs of space on a 50GB disc. Presented in AVC encoded 1080i, the image shows its tape-sourced roots but it’s watchable enough and those accustomed to watching low budget shot on video movies from this era will have no problem with the picture quality. This isn’t the type of release you buy to show off your new 4k TV, as the picture is inherently soft, but the authoring is fine and compression is alright.

    Redneck Zombies gets an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 mix, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is on par with the video quality in that it’s limited by the source materials but perfectly acceptable given the film’s low-fi roots. Sometimes the dialogue is a bit muffled but aside from that, it’s all fine for what it is.

    Extras start off with a new commentary from producer Ed Bishop, director Pericles Lewnes and lead actress Lisa M DeHaven. The sound quality is a bit all over the place on the track, it doesn't sound like everyone was in the same room, but it's an interesting track that goes over the influence of Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the opening scrawl as well as other movies that influenced the filmmakers, casting the picture, writing as many jokes into each scene as possible, intentionally toying with ethnic stereotypes when writing the characters, having to replace the actor that played Wilbur when he didn't show up after the first shoot, what went into editing the picture, locations and props that were used in the movie, some of the special effects and video effects work featured in the movie, when and where DeHaven was "really acting" in the movie, wrangling up extras for the movie, memories from the shoot and more.

    The disc also includes a new critical commentary track with James Branscome and Nick Vance of The Cinematic Void Podcast that is a somewhat scene specific track that goes over the name of the fort featured in the movie as well as the 'Full Moon' production company (not Charles Band's operation!), the references to other horror movies that are scattered throughout the movie, the movie's production and release history, the unique look of the movie, how the movie deals in some "dark shit" despite the fact that it is pretty much a horror comedy, the soundtrack and score used throughout the production, the Maryland locations, the different stereotypes that the movie deals in, the editing in the movie, some of the amusing background details, the variable qualities in the acting in the movie and lots more. There are stretches of dead air here and there but overall it's pretty interesting.

    Carried over from the DVD edition is an archival commentary track from Lewnes and his producer, Ed Bishop. These guys are well aware of the kind of movie that they made and approach this with the right sense of humor but also share some interesting trivia and stories about the origins of the movie, influences and its impact on the SOV market, casting, locations, gore effects work and more. An isolated score option is also provided in 24-bit DTS-HD format as well.

    Sweet Redneck Memories is a new eighty-three minute making-of documentary from 2023 featuring interviews with Lloyd Kaufman, Pericles Lewnes, Ed Bishop, Jim Bellistri, Lisa DeHaven and Adrian Bond. They talk about wanting to make a fun movie rather than a good movie, where some of the ideas for the movie came from as well as the title, how much fun everyone had working on the film, the background and training of the different participants, challenges of working on a very low budget, getting the cast and crew together, projects that they worked on before Redneck Zombies, how Troma came to pick up the title for distribution and how well it did on home video upon its release, building the movie around the title, thoughts on the different characters in the movie, the collaborative nature of the production, how some of he actors feel about their performances in hindsight, shooting on campus without permission, when and where scenes were improvised, location work, doing the best with the resources that were available to them, creating the movie's soundtrack, how genuinely nauseating shooting some of the scenes involving a lot of guts could be, how the movie has been reviewed and received over the years, the possibility of a sequel and a novelization, and finally, what everyone has been up to since the movie was made. There are a lot of great clips in here of the projects that they worked on as well behind the scenes footage from Redneck Zombies and some neat archival stills as well.

    The alternate 20th Anniversary Edit of Redneck Zombies runs 1:30:16 versus the feature version at 1:30:21. It’s also presented in AVC encoded 1080i but with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and there are no subtitles included for this cut. It takes up 9.8GBs of space so the compression isn’t as good as the feature version and the video quality in general isn’t as good but it’s cool to have it included here for the sake of posterity.

    Up next is fourteen minutes of footage from an unfinished archival making-of documentary that was shot by James Housley during the making of the movie. It's been put together using deck to deck editing and the sound is really rough but it does offer up some interesting fly-on-the-wall style footage of the cast and crew hard at work and seemingly having a blast doing it.

    Twenty minutes of deleted scenes are also included on the disc - an extended scene with the doctors, the original hikers/soldier intro, a scene with Andy, a 'Secret Ingredient' scene, a counting cases sequence, an extension of the camp fire/transformation scene, a bit with a search party and an extended version of Bob's trip. There's also an additional forty-three minutes of outtakes included here, some of which are pretty amusing.

    Up next is a scene from Crabtown, USA, which was a local cable access show that was a precursor to the feature. There's three minutes of material here from 1986 and it's interesting to see the cast and crew working together on some decidedly wacky donut-related material before they embarked on their zombie epic.

    A one minute 'In memoriam' piece pays tribute to Barbara Falk, Sandy Bishop, Benjamin K. Goldberg, Michael Poole, Anthony Carr and Stan Morrow all of whom have, sadly, passed away in the years since the movie was made.

    Carried over from the special edition DVD is a selection of archival interviews with pretty much every one of the cast and crew you'd hope to see interviewed here - director Pericles Lewnes, producer Ed Bishop, associate producer William E. Benson, co-producer Bill Decker, 'set mother’ Sandy Bishop, composer Adrian Bond, actress Lisa M. DeHaven, actor Alex Lewnes, actor Bucky Santini, misc. crew Jeff McKinstry, actor Tyrone Taylor and actor Martin J. Wolfman. Lewnes talks about how he got involved with Troma after making this movie but a lot of the other cast members have some interesting stories to tell and wind up giving us updates on what they've been up to since this movie was made and sharing some fun memories of the shoot.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc, we get an original trailer for the feature, the Troma release trailer, the Trans World Entertainment release trailer, menus and chapter selection options.

    As far as the packaging goes, we get some nice reversible cover art with newly created art on one side and the original Troma art on the reverse. Copies purchased from Vinegar Syndrome's website can some with a limited edition spot gloss slipcover designed by Robert Sammelin that is limited to 4,000 units.

    Redneck Zombies – The Final Word:

    Just as ridiculous as its title sounds, Redneck Zombies holds up well more than two decades after it was originally made way out there in rural Maryland. Yes, it's obviously cheap and yes it's intentionally tacky but damn if it isn't a whole lot of fun regardless. The Blu-ray edition from Degausser Video presents the movie looking and sounding as good as it probably can and the extras are both insanely comprehensive and quite entertaining. Fans of the film should consider this one recommended, it’s worth the double-dip.


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