BATTLE OF THE BONE
Written, directed and produced by George Clarke
Certificate:18. Run time: 90 minutes.
Billed as Northern Ireland’s first kung fu/zombie film, George Clarke has achieved nothing short of a miracle with this fast-paced tale of three friends battling against sectarian thugs and drug-crazed zombies. Owing much to the work of George A Romero and Japanese gore-fest movies, Battle of the Bone was shot on a micro-budget of just £10,000. Despite this, Clarke managed to get a cameo role from popular UTV newsreader Pamela Ballentine playing herself. Most of the shooting of this film was done on location, so virtually no money was spent on expensive sets. Action takes place in the open air, a pedestrian subway, a grain silo and a paper warehouse in the docklands, a city centre multi-storey car park and shopping mall, and culminates on the steps of an inner city church.
The story takes place in Belfast on the Twelfth of July as three friends; David, Scott and Jill, try to get back home to East Belfast in the aftermath of a huge inter-communal riot. All the river bridges are blocked by burning cars except for a pedestrian bridge guarded by a bunch of thugs. David falls foul of these guys and finds himself and his two friends running and fighting for his life though the city docklands.
In the meantime, an accidental spillage of a new drug has turned the staff and inmates of the local mental hospital into crazed zombies. These create havoc as they attack loyalist bandsmen in their practice hall, Twelfth revellers waiting at ‘the field’ to see the bands and a courting couple in the Botanic Gardens.
The three friends think they’re safe having eluded the thugs from ‘the other side’ only to run into a greater danger; the zombie hordes pouring into the city centre.
Battle of the Bone is fast-moving with a pulsating soundtrack that really moves the action along. There’s genuine tension at times, but it’s also a lot of fun with plenty of over-the-top fake blood and gore. It’s obvious that the young inexperienced cast had a ball making this frenetic film.
The last couple of minutes are a wee bit lame but not enough to spoil the fun. The best scene is where two doctors in the ‘nuthouse’ lark about singing and playing the piano totally unaware of the frenzied zombies menacing them. It’s great stuff.
George Clarke has come up with what ought to be a genre classic. If he can do such a fine job with this kind of a budget, what will he be able to do in future efforts with a bigger budget? Things look promising for him and his Yellow Fever Productions.
The DVD bundles an interesting documentary showing how the film was made, a number of deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer with the main feature.