A young couple attempts to make their way to a rescue station during a worldwide crisis in which the dead return to life seeking living victims for sustenance. When they arrive, the shelter is being overrun by the undead and they seek refuge in a nearby abandoned house, and can only watch in horror as destruction and carnage ensue outside the windows… Low on food, water, and deprived of sleep, their grasp on sanity begins to slip away. But they have one small hope that may allow them to battle their way across the war-zone that was once the Garden City to what they hope is another survivor, and escape the maelstrom together. They fight not only with the reanimated dead, but with their own bodies and minds, as they hallucinate and slip in and out of consciousness, in their desperate final effort…
If the 1980’s are known for the slasher movie, then the early 2000’s (the 00’s or the “aughts” or the double zeros or whatever 2000-2009 will be called) will go down in history as the decade of the zombies. Dawn of the Dead saw a successful remake, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg made Shaun of the Dead, George Romero came back with Land of the Dead, and thousands of indie-filmmakers figured out that with just a little make-up and some fake guts, they, too, could jump aboard the zombie bandwagon. One of the many entries into the canon was Canadian writer/director Brian Clement’s Meat Market trilogy. To be fair, the original Meat Market came out in 2000, well before any of the three listed above, with part 2 hitting the next year, and part 3, the one we’ll be talking about today, seeing the light of day in 2006.
Let’s remember that Meat Market 3 is, indeed, a part 3. Duh, right, but this means something to hardcore horror fans. Whereas we see a direct continuation from part 1 to 2, as well as the return of familiar characters, part 3 goes a different direction with different characters. Here, we follow Mike (Mike Hordy) and Erika (Bronwyn Lee) as they try and find their way to safety from a growing horde of flesh-eating undead. They manage to find temporary shelter in what seems to be an empty house, but without weapons or food, they won’t last long. Using a police radio, they are able to contact Dana (Debra Easton), who is able to provide them with a little hope. But soon things begin to get out of control.
There are a lot of clichés thrown at us in Meat Market 3. As usual, we have as our main characters a couple of people who have absolutely no concept of zombies. Even after watching these creatures eat living humans, they still think maybe they’re just crazy people or something. And, of course, they barricade themselves inside a house, becoming easily surrounded by the walking dead. And yes, these zombies like to eat the intestines of their victims, rather than the meatier parts of the bodies. So as we watch this film, we not only wonder if Mike and Erika can survive the situation, but we also have to wonder if the movie itself can survive the tropes and clichés that have doomed so many other zombie movies.
The answer? Yes… and no. We get a lot of metaphorical running in place, where our protagonists discuss doing something ad nauseum in what I assume is an effort to build suspense, but instead just cushions the running time. For example, the couple talks about going to a cop car outside for weapons, then discusses it with Dana over the radio, then discusses it together some more, then finally tries and fails, only to eventually go for the car again later. With each non-action, tension-building, dramatic moment, we realize more and more that most of our actors (with the exception of Lee as Erika, who is probably the highpoint of this movie) are not very good at acting. However, there are some decent effects here (including a nude female zombie whose arms have been torn off that seems to only exist for the sake of the effect, but is indeed done well), as well as a side-story about Erika having strange dreams/delusions that put her somewhere else that is confusing at first but pans out later, and when all is said and done, these aspects help balance the movie out.
Meat Market 3 doesn’t try anything brand new for the genre until the very end, and by then the movie is over and we don’t get to see what might happen were it to follow through in the new direction. Because of that, I have to rank the movie as a mid-level, indie-zombie film. There are far worse, and there are far better. I’d like to see more from Bronwyn Lee (nothing new since 2007?), and I’d be curious to see a non-zombie horror effort from Brian Clement, although it would appear he has ventured more into the sci-fi genre as of late. This is a movie made for a specific audience, so give this a shot if you love all things zombies.