Carolina made Bombshell Bloodbath explodes onto home video

In a cinematic landscape littered with low-budget zombie movies, Bombshell Bloodbath stands out — and not just because it was filmed in North Carolina … though that’s a nice distinction for the Tarheel State.

The film is an unabashed, appropriately gore-soaked tribute to the zombie films of yesteryear, replete with in-jokes and references for genre fans, yet it’s less inspired by the works of George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead), Danny Boyle (28 Days Later) and AMC’s blockbuster “The Walking Dead” than by the stylized shockers of Italian maestros Dario Argento (Suspiria), Umberto Lenzi (Nightmare City) and especially Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond).

Bombshell Bloodbath, now available on DVD from Monarch Home Entertainment (see review, Page 31), marks the feature debut for Brett Mullen, a die-hard, life-long horror fan. Like most members of the film’s crew, he wore several hats on the production — even appearing onscreen in multiple roles.

“Almost every crew member had their main job and a handful of other jobs,” Mullen relates. “Melanie Saxton and Joel Sarvis, for instance, started out as hair stylist and art director and ended up assisting the special-effects department and even as production assistants.

“I myself was co-writer, director, director of photography, executive producer and editor — something I’d prefer never to do again,” he says. “Too many hats is not a good thing, but independent films are not easy, and sometimes that is what it takes.”

The film takes place in a small rural town where Dr. Carter (Rob Springer), a brilliant but unhinged scientist, is trying to resurrect his dead wife (Kathy Butler Sandvoss). Thus far, Carter’s experiments have yielded what might be termed “mixed results:” The bodies he experiments on do come back to life — but as ferocious, ravenous zombies.

When Carter’s daughter Cara (Alex Elliott) is accidentally exposed to the contagion, she and her sister Denise (Jess Barbour) resort to desperate measures to stave off her inevitable transformation. At the same time, this little bastion of civilization is crumbling as the zombie population grows exponentially and leads to a bloody apocalypse.

Bombshell Bloodbath has amassed considerable critical favor. called the film “gory, gooey, goofy fun, an absolute blast!” and compared it to the works of Argento, Fulci and even Quentin Tarantino. added, “Bombshell Bloodbath is a brilliant night’s zombie entertainment.”

Initially, according to Mullen, “The film started out as a short film and was converted into a feature film. It was (to be) four shorts that were meant to become an anthology. After the momentum of the first short, it evolved into the zombie flick Bombshell Bloodbath.”

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Bombshell Bloodbath’s budget was $500,000. According to Mullen, however, the figure was much lower — and “all out of pocket.

“It was extremely challenging at the beginning as I had no following and a skeleton crew,” he says. “However, my method of completing the film was to edit while shooting, so after teasers started showing up on Facebook and other social media, people were lined up to help out. It took a lot off my shoulders and let me focus a bit more on directing.”

Mullen laughs, “This is the main reason the film took a little over a year to complete: I had to save up enough money to shoot the next scene. Ahhh, low-budget filmmaking!” Nevertheless, the film plays seamlessly, bolstered by its excellent makeup effects and a brooding score by “Umberto” that unmistakably recalls the music of Fabio Frizzi, Fulci’s long-time composer.

Mullen states that “95 percent of the effects in Bombshell were practical. I’m a huge fan of in-camera effects and that helped give us the ’70s-’80s horror-film vibe that we were going for.”

Whatever hardships Mullen and the cast and crew endured evaporated as soon as the film was screened for audiences last year.

“The premiere was at the Carousel Cinemas in Greensboro,” he recalls. “We sold out a 300-seat theater and it took weeks for me to stop smiling! Such an amazing feeling.”

In addition, “the film sold to Netflix and is also available on Amazon for purchase, (and) it has been listed in both Gorezone and Fangoria magazines.”

Mullen is currently toiling on two projects,both horror films. The first is The Malevolent, starring scream queen Debbie Rochon and “Sons of Anarchy” bad boy Brett Wagner, inspired by Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria, which is scheduled to begin shooting this summer with Mullen and Matt Cloude co-directing. The second is Hellions Rise, written and directed by Bombshell collaborator Matthew B. Moore, on which Mullen will serve as cinematographer. (Only one hat this time.)

“Overall,” he observes, “big fans of zombie films get what I was going for with Bombshell Bloodbath, though I can see (elements) where it wasn’t strong. The next film should drastically improve in these places and give horror fans an improved vibe of my favorite time in horror – the ’80s.”

The official Bombshell Bloodbath Facebook site is: Bloodbath. For more information about The Malevolent, check out themalevolentmovie. !