Thursday, September 13, 2007

BACTERIUM

I’ve written before about my admiration for and appreciation of low-budget filmmaker and effects maestro Brett Piper (SHOCK-O-RAMA, SCREAMING DEAD), so I was excited when his latest film for Pop Cinema’s Shock-O-Rama label, BACTERIUM (2007), showed up in my mailbox. Needless to say, I had the disc out of its shrinkwrap and spinning in my Sony within minutes.

A group of young paintball players stumble across a seemingly abandoned mansion. Investigating, they find a deranged scientist conducting experiments in the basement. Realizing that this isn’t a good thing, they decide to bail, only to find the building surrounded by armed soldiers who will not let them leave. Turns out that the doc is on the run from the government with a virulent bioweapon, and they’re trapped with him and the rapidly reproducing and growing flesh-eating organism. The question then becomes: can they escape – without becoming infected themselves – before the government takes decisive action to contain the bacterial threat?

With better-than-average production values and acting for a shot-on-video production, the PG-13 rated BACTERIUM is a nifty little 50’s styled sci-fi thriller, reminiscent of British films like THE CREEPING UNKNOWN and FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, with a bit of THE BLOB thrown in for good measure. A definite highlight is Piper’s handcrafted "bacterium" effects, which appear to combine stop-motion and puppetry with detailed miniature sets.

The Pop Cinema DVD presents the digital video feature in a nice, crisp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The limited extras include a short, but informative "Making Of" featurette, a commentary track by Piper and producer Michael Raso, and a slew of Shock-O-Rama trailers.

Considering the budget and limited resources, BACTERIUM really delivers the old school sci-fi shivers, and may be Piper’s best film to date. Imaginative, witty, and remarkably well made, BACTERIUM is enthusiastically recommended for fans of indie horror and sci-fi.

BUY: Bacterium