Paul Pedrosa, who plays the improbably named Shahrokh, gets a bullet in the head ala Fulci’s “Zombie” in “Meat Market 2’s”opening scene, thus depriving the viewer of the only actor in the whole “Meat Market” series who can actually act. This leaves us with Claire Westby as Lara Croft-wannabe Argenta and Alison Terriault as lesbian vampire Nemesis. Joining the show is Stephan Eng as Ferriden, a whiny dude with a snazzy eye patch. And no, neither Westby nor Terriault has gotten the hang of this whole acting thing.
It goes without saying that I wouldn’t even waste the 80 minutes required to watch “Meat Market 2”, a shot-on-video low-budget production, if not for my undying love of all things zombie-related. To be frank there is just so many things wrong with “Meat Market 2” that had I not possess this irrational fondness for the genre, I could not, in all honestly, sit through the film’s first 10 minutes, much less the entire thing. The acting is, as expected, atrocious to the point of being physically harmful to the viewer. The story mines George Romero’s “Day of the Dead”, something a recent zombie picture also did — only they called it “28 Days Later”.
A year after the events of the original, survivors Argenta, Nemesis, and Ferriden run across Bill (Rob Nesbitt), a motivational speaker with a Hitler complex. Ol Bill has gathered up some ex-soldiers and formed himself a nice little utopian society in the hallways of a college building — er, I mean, secret complex somewhere in the wastelands. Although Bill wants Argenta to join his little team of masked gunmen, he has no need for Nemesis, who quickly gets executed. Ferriden ends up a lab rat to one of Bill’s scientist, who is in competition with another scientist who enjoys having his way with, er, dead meat.
Obviously since Nemesis is a vampire, she’s not really dead. Soon, she returns to the land of the living and bites the scientist with the rotting meat fetish. Before you can say, “Oh hell, there are zombies in the hallways!”, there are a whole lotta zombies in the hallways. A lot of gore is had, prosthetic penises show up more than once, and by movie’s end, a certain costumed fellow returns from the beyond and rescues the survivors. Or some such.
There are a lot of things wrong with “Meat Market 2”, one of which being Clement’s preoccupation with gore. This is a common problem with no-budget films. The filmmakers seem unable to avoid putting all their concentration on the gore, while skimping on the story and somehow managing to avoid hiring people with some semblance of acting ability. Obviously fans of the genre expect gore, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason for showing the gore in “Market 2”. Cleaved heads, fake intestines, and a flurry of spraying blood all show up to literally paint the screen. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s all too much, but there just doesn’t seem to be any reason to show such an excessive amount.
The point is, “Meat Market 2”, just like the original, seems more interested in pandering to the gore crowd than it is to the zombie crowd. And yes, there is a distinction between the two groups. The former simply wants gore for the sake of gore, while the latter requires a bit more reason for the existence of gore. The problem one invariably faces with no-budget horror films is that the filmmaker is working under the assumption that the “average” moviegoer wouldn’t be caught dead watching their movies, thus they concentrate the majority of their efforts into pandering to the gore crowd. This is bad news for people like me.
I suppose it’s a bit hard to expect too much from Clement and company. He’s obviously dealing with a minimal budget, even though his location scouting is actually very flattering. Somehow Clement has found himself a spot of Canada that is sprinkled with ruined buildings and dangerous debris-littered terrain. They make a fine spot for his post-apocalyptic film. Unfortunately Clement seems to have no idea what to do with this great find, and instead most of the movie takes place in hallways and dark rooms. In one humorously bad choice of locations, our heroes locate the evil guys’ armory, only the armory is inside a closet room that is insanely dark. Maybe it’s just me, but you’d think a room filled with weapons and grenades would be in a much brighter place for, you know, safety reasons.
On the other hand, I’d rather watch the “Meat Market” films again than endure the garbage of “Undead” one more time. How is it possible that “Market”, which doesn’t have 1% of the budget or resources of the Australian zombie picture, still managed to be infinitely more likeable? At least with the “Market” films I never once had the urge to reach into the screen and strangle the “heroes” to death with my bare hands.
Brian Clement (director) / Brian Clement (screenplay)
CAST: Claire Westby …. Argenta
Alison Therriault …. Nemesis
Stephan Eng …. Ferriden
Terra Thomsen …. Lt. Janet Hapsburg
Rob Nesbitt …. Bill Wilhelm