Ashes to Ashes, Direct to Video

Ashes to Ashes, Direct to Video

Because I am an influential and powerful member of the media, people send me stuff. Usually things I have no use for, like self-published books on poker addiction, or invitations to offbeat political events.

 A while back a DVD called “Ashes” came across my desk. The promo material says the release date for the DVD is Feb. 7, so ain’t this timely.
Directed by Elias Matar, “Ashes” is the story of the driven Dr. Stanton, who wears his shirt collars too tight and is intensely studying everything at the hospital, occasionally remembering to go home and snuggle with his precocious daughter, his gorgeous wife, and their dopey pot-smoking friends.
But one day this kid gets left at the hospital. They can’t figure out what’s wrong with him, and while they’re mulling it over the kid rears up and takes a big chomp out of the doc’s arm.
Unfortunately, I must report that between this scene and the next action there’s a whole lot of plot — about an hour’s worth —that gets in the way of the story. And all of it’s told in POV ShakyCam style.
Nothing says “low-budget” like the hand-held camera. Not necessarily bad, but…
Anyhoo, at long last the infection from the rogue jellyfish — did I forget to mention that? — gets to the doc, who pulls some serious zombie fu on some bangers who saunter by looking for trouble.
Meanwhile the dopey pot-smoking friend’s wife goes to Doc Stanton’s house, where she gets zombified by the precocious daughter. (Remember “precocious” can also mean “bratty and annoying and undead.”)
And the stoner puts on his stingy brim fedora like the middle-aged postmodern butthead he is and drives around, finally finding the doc and shooting him. Twice. But not in the head, as any experienced zombie hunter will tell you is absolutely necessary.
And then the AIDS patient comes out of his room and wraps it all up. Trust me, it’s poignant.
Summary: No breasts (automatic one-coil deduction). Pot-smoking male bonding scene, with stingy brim fedora. Slight lesbitation in corresponding female bonding scene. Hand-held camera. Nice “clenched-jaw-I-must-have-human-flesh” scene from the immortal Brian Krause (as Dr. Stanton). Kadeem Hardison as the lab guy. (You may remember him from “Home Boyz From Outer Space” and “Yo Motherfucker II.” Man, he got fat.) Of the stated running time of 88 minutes, fully 68 are devoted to walking around the hospital, driving somewhere, or working on subplots that never get resolved.
Not horrible, but not great either. A low budget doesn’t mean you have to lard the flick up with a lot of pointless yakking. Lose a couple of the other actors and you’d have enough money for a battalion of little jellyfish zombie kids. Seriously.
Two and a half coils, mostly for trying to make an intelligent zombie flick with a budget of $11.67.
No pics to show, because the website won’t let me steal them.

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