For some reason it has an alternative title Cannibal Dead: The Ghouls. After sitting through so many cheapo formulaic horror films it’s refreshing to finally find a film that tried something a bit different. Sure the budget is low and the editing can be a bit choppy at times but this film oozes sleaze and desperation. I felt I could almost smell the streets where this was filmed.
Eric Hayes (Timothy Muskatell) is a freelance cameraman (or stringer I think they are called). He tries to get brutal scenes of death to get film footage the he can sell to TV News and the film shows him in action filming a man brutally murdering a woman while also in the room is corpse of a man he’s already killed, a baby crying and a young boy watching the scene paralysed with horror. Note Hayes is not trying to stop the man, or remove either of the children from the scene, he’s just filming. When the police arrive they treat Hayes with the contempt that he deserves.
He chases a load of police squad cars to the final scenes of a car chase where he meets several other stringers with a quick cameo from writer director James Gunn. He also meets his buddy Clift (Trent Haaga) and they go get stoned together. Hayes keeps meeting people he owes money to and putting them off with the promise of money he’ll get from the murder scene footage. He finally goes to a TV new station to sell his footage to the boss Lewis (Joseph Pilato) and the meeting ends in bad-tempered slagging match.
Hayes meets the woman who hopes will be his girlfriend in a bar but she’s really cold to him and rejects him. After she leaves Hayes drinks himself into a stupor until the bar closes and he gets kicked out. He drives around a bit and parks in a slum area full of homeless people. He sees what he thinks is three homeless men dragging a screaming woman into an alley to rape her and follows them with his camera into an alley. He gets really close and realises they aren’t raping her but are tearing her apart and eating her. When he turns on his camera light they spot him and he barely manages to get away.
After reporting the death to the police he goes to see Lewis to try to sell him the footage which leads to another slagging match. Lewis discovers that Hayes didn’t put any videotape in the camera and sends him packing. This makes Hayes desperate to get the creatures on film so he goes to see Clift and tells him all about it over some lines of coke. Clift agrees to go with him and provides handguns for protection. In the street next to the alley Hayes gives a homeless man some money to tell them what he knows about the creatures and he calls them ghouls and says that they have been around forever.
This film has a rough dirty quality to it but I think it that fits the subject perfectly because this about dirty sleazy people. It seems to have been filmed on different digital cameras. There is quite a lot of choppy jump cuts during the more violent scenes. There is a problem with what is basically an exploitation film making a point about the ghoulish exploitative nature of TV news. I was a bit uncomfortable with the scene at the end with the Down ’s syndrome man but I think it was trying to make broader point about TV news. The story does start to come apart a little near the end but I got drawn in enough to see how it ended. It’s gory and has nudity so it’s not for everyone. The soundtrack features a lot of free-form jazz