Exhumed (2003) 1 brain1 brain

At the beginning of this movie I noted that the director/writer was Brian Clement, which seemed vaguely familiar. It wasn't until I was done that I checked it out and remembered that he is also the director/writer of Meat Market and Meat Market 2, two movies that I was underwhelmed by, to say the least. Exhumed is a better film, but still has some of Clement's old weaknesses, as well as some new ones. Clement seems to get technically better and better in each film, and his makeup has always been good, but the acting and dialog in his films still make me wince. The plot in this one is more complex than his previous stuff, but he seems to go to the other extreme, so that at the end I wasn't quite sure what was going on. (This could also have been because I was falling asleep, through no fault of Clement's).

The movie is actually three shorts connected by a theme and some plot elements. Clement takes a clever approach in having each short made in a different genre. The first short, The Forest of Death (which reminds me of the forest in Versus), is a martial arts piece set in feudal Japan. The next, Shadow of Tomorrow, is film noir. And the last, Last Rumble, is post-apocalypse sci-fi. The theme connecting all three shorts is a mysterious artifact that can be used to raise the dead.

I would say that I enjoyed The Forest of Death the most. In it, a samurai (Masahiro Oyake) is sent by his warlord to recover an artifact that will help him build an invincible army. The samurai is also looking for his brother, who was sent to look for the artifact a short while ago, and disappeared. The samurai meets a monk (Hiroaki Itaya) who has been sent to destroy this same artifact. The two of them conflict with the undead and each other as they continue their search. The acting in this one was actually decent, and the dialog fit the genre. Unfortunately, this one was only setting the stage for the following two.

In Shadow of Tomorrow, a female private eye (Claire Westby) is hired to tail a woman (Moira Thomas), discovering that she may be involved in the recent rash of disappearing corpses. The writing and acting here are worse, although Clement obviously knows noir well enough to get the look and feel right. The trail of the mystery woman leads the private eye to a scientist conducting experiments on dead bodies.

In Last Rumble, the story is set in a future where there are feuding populations of vagabond werewolves and vampires, who at the same time are preyed upon by what remains of the human government military. A female werewolf (Chelsey Arentsen) and a female vampire (Chantelle Adamache) are captured and forced to fight zombies for the amusement of the soldiers, before being subjected to time travel experiments that end up tying back to the first two stories. Clement succumbs to his penchant for gratuitous nudity in this story and throws in a lesbian love scene, but it does actually pertain to the plot, so perhaps "gratuitous" is too harsh a word. The writing is weakest in this one, perhaps because the writing in this genre has less characteristics to work off of, but also because this is where Clement tries to tie everything together, and it gets somewhat stilted and confusing.

All in all this movie has a good premise, and it certainly is an improvement from the previous work. Fans of indie horror may enjoy it, although I still found it somewhat lacking.