CITY OF ROTT
Directed by Frank Sudol
Written by Frank Sudol
Music by Frank Sudol
Voice Acting by Frank Sudol
2006/77 minutes/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0/
1.33:1/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Unearthed Films DVD
Frank Sudol’s animated zombie opus, City of Rott is a confounding, bizarre, and disappointingly shallow movie that has so much potential it hurts. Sudol has single-handedly crafted this full-length animated bloodbath using the cutout animation technique made so popular by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in South Park. In the South Park setting, the animation works because the writing is so spot-on that the erratic movements and nature of the characters seems to add a sense of chaos and complete creative lunacy. Unfortunately, City of Rott has the lunacy part down pretty well; it’s the writing that is the problem.
The story begins with an old man named Fred and his walker stuck in the zombie-infested city of “Rott.” At first glance, the decrepit senior citizen looks helpless in the face of giant worm-controlled undead hordes. But quickly, it becomes obvious that this geezer packs a punch as he wields his metal walker like a bushido blade, and slices and dices the walking cadavers from limb to limb. It seems that Frank is on a quest through the corpses to find a new pair of slippers. So far so good, right? Sure. The problem is that after the first ten minutes of carnage and craziness, the movie takes on a rinse and repeat modus operandi. Basically, the following scenes are simply repeats of what has come before. First, the old man (or another character) shuffles into the middle of the frame, then there is a shot of a cutout zombie digesting some innards, becoming aware of the character, and moving toward them, and finally the character obliterates the creature with whatever weapon he or she has on hand and proceeds to do the same to literally hundreds more cutout zombies. That’s it. There is nothing more than that. No story of any note (other than some bizarrely ambiguous discussions the old man has with himself) and no real propulsion of the story. In the end, it sadly feels like a deliriously wild YouTube video that has been duplicated seven times over and strung together to make a full-length feature.
There is no doubt that Frank Sudol is a horror fanatic. He is also definitely creative, and he deserves credit for attempting such an ambitious project and injecting it with as much animated bloodshed as he possibly can, but sometimes ambition and depravity do not result in an entertaining, or even accessible final product. City of Rott does work well, for about ten minutes, and then it drowns in repetition and incoherence.
Unearthed has reanimated City of Rott on a beautifully rendered DVD with a crystal clear 1.33:1 transfer, and an outstanding Dolby Digital soundtrack that sonically splatters the intestinal explosions throughout the surrounds. The quality of the disc is stunning, and the extras prove that the folks at Unearthed understand the value of a well-packaged horror title.
The highlight of the extras is Sudol’s commentary where it becomes obvious how much he loves horror and the zombie genre in particular. His love for some of the more obscure horror names solidifies his true fandom, and gives him instant credibility. The discussion of his animation technique is also enlightening and informative. Also included in the package are two Sudol shorts titled, Psych and Rise Zombie which are obvious precursors to City of Rott and demonstrate Sudol’s evolution as an animator. Finally, the DVD includes a set of deleted scenes, and a slide show of stills from City of Rott. Surprisingly, the slide show is entertaining because it provides the opportunity to see Sudol’s animated mayhem as single cells and highlights the sheer insanity of his art and the tremendous amount of detail in his work (some of these shots would make great t-shirts). The trailer for City of Rott is present along with trailers for, Frankenhooker, Bone Sickness, Visions of Suffering, Rock & Rule, and Nails.
City of Rott is obviously a labor of love for Frank Sudol, and his enthusiasm and the huge amounts of cartoon carnage may win over some fans, but in the end, there is just not enough story, plot, or cohesion to hold it together.
This Film Features:
Review by Jamie Smith. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©
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