I know it’s something of a cheat to call Brian Clement’s zombie opus “Meat Market” a foreign film, since while the film is made by Canadians in (most likely) Canada, it’s not really a “Canadian movie”. The questionable cataloging of the movie aside, “Meat Market” is a no-budget Zombies Attack movie shot on video, and as a result “Market” suffers from every known pitfall of no-budget filmmaking, but in the end still manages to impress — if just slightly.
Claire Westby and Paul Pedrosa stars as Argenta and Shahrokh, respectively, two gun-toting ex-bounty hunters who used to work for an Evil Corporation responsible for the sudden zombie plague. Realizing what’s in store for their fair city, Argenta and Shahrokh have stock up on canned foods and weapons and found a sort of bomb shelter (?) outside of town. Sure enough, the town is overrun by zombies that, as it turns out, are infected by — well, does it really matter? Zombies are everywhere and people run from zombies, shoot at zombies, and get eaten by zombies. Nuff said.
The point is, there isn’t really a lot of thought put into the story. I suspect that all of the filmmaker’s energy went into staging the zombie attack sequences and securing proper locations to make their apocalyptic film. “Meat Market” is basically 90 minutes of pure mayhem, with perhaps too many scenes of stalking zombies, zombies eating victims, zombies getting shot, etc. Tipping its head to numerous pioneers of the Zombies Attack genre, from George Romero to Lucio Fulci, “Meat Market” borrows heavily from Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead”, while taking inspiration for its makeup effects from Fulci (“Zombie”).
Being that the movie is shot with a video camera, it’s not surprising that the aesthetics for “Meat Market” is not very good. Generational videotape degradation shows itself every now and then, and the lighting is horrible. Of course it’s a bit mean to point out the movie’s shortcomings, since most of its aesthetics, like lighting and sets, all depend on real-life locations that the filmmakers were able to get the use of. Also, Clement and crew manages to utilize a lot of exterior street scenes, mostly shot at night or during hours when people aren’t around.
The acting in “Meat Market”, as expected, is horrid. Lead Claire Westby is a pretty face, but beyond that I’m hardpressed to understand why Clement cast her. Co-lead Paul Pedrosa does a much better job, and is probably the best thespian in the group. Of course no-budget films are notorious for casting non-professional actors (since, you know, real actors cost money and stuff) to fill out the roles. Unfortunately like another Canadian movie called “Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter”, “Meat Market” throws in an eclectic cast in the mistaken belief that it’ll make the movie more “odd” and thus, different.
With “Meat Market”, the eclectic cast consists of 3 lesbian vampires armed with (get this) rifles that fire lasers. There’s also a Mexican wrestler called El Diablo Azul who goes around doing, well, he really doesn’t do much. The screenplay also throws in a Mad Scientist who, in the tradition of all movie Mad Scientists, end up meeting a most gruesome end at the hands of his very own creation. Didn’t see that coming, did ya? Needless to say, the vampires are all Goth chicks covered in tattoos, and have no discernible acting talent to speak off. I guess they were cast because they “looked” the part. That, and probably because they were willing to strip naked and simulate lesbian sex.
For a no-budget movie shot on video, “Meat Market” is actually not all that bad. Brian Clement clearly knows his genre, and although his movie is more of a bad comedy than an actual action movie, there are times when I was amazed by the things he managed to pull off. But unfortunately the film relies too much on its gore and gratuitous sex and nudity, and not enough on story. For instance, the characters all seem to run around doing very little except loot stores, shoot zombies, and run back to their hideout. Although I think the Argenta character is looking for her sister, or something.
Brian Clement (director) / Brian Clement, Nick Sheehan, Tania Willard (screenplay)
CAST: Claire Westby …. Argenta
Paul Pedrosa …. Shahrokh
Teresa Simon …. Valeria
Chelsey Arentsen …. Tiamat
Cam Pipes …. El Diablo Azul