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Film Review: Rot (1999)

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SYNOPSIS:

Sarah has a surprise and gruesome announcement for Muzzy… she has contracted a deadly virus called the ROT which she got by sexing a dead guy from the local funeral home, and now she has passed it along to Muzzy. Slowly the two of them begin to ROT alive, spreading the insidious, flesh-melting disease to friends and foes and any unfortunate individual that comes in contact with them. But Sarah and Muzzy’s problems don’t end there. The man responsible for their living death and the horrifying epidemic is Dr. Robert Olsen – a deranged scientist who used to work for the government’s germ warfare research division. As the plague of rotting flesh accelerates out of control, the FBI and other secretive governmental agencies become involved, and things are about to get even messier.

REVIEW:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from horror movies, it’s this: don’t run upstairs when a killer with a machete is chasing you through the house. But if there’s a second thing I’ve learned, it’s don’t have sex with corpses. Nothing but bad will come from it. Do I need to cite examples to convince you? Think of the finales of Love Me Deadly, Nekromantik, or Deadgirl; there’s no happy ending there. Take it one step further, and look at the fate that befalls the undead priest and nurse in Braindead. It’s just bad news to have sexual intercourse with the dead, okay? And no other film captures the absolute bummer of a life that is awaiting you once you get caught by your significant other having sex with the dead better than Marcus Koch’s 1999 film, Rot.

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Sarah (played by Tiffany Stinky) isn’t quite satisfied in her relationship with Muzzy (Billy Scam), so she finds attention (kind of) elsewhere. Elsewhere, as in the morgue. After getting it on with yet another dead guy (apparently this is a bad habit of hers), Sarah hovers over the toilet, puking and asking herself why she does it. Muzzy comes home, they get it on, and then she breaks the news. He’s certainly not happy, and he storms out yelling. Eventually the gutter punks make amends, but soon after they discover/decide that they must be dying.

They also do a bunch of pranks, break into a mansion and burn it down, phone a bomb threat in to the white house…you know, innocent childlike pranks. And in what turns out to be pretty logical reasoning, Muzzy decides that, since they’re dying, they just need some formaldehyde to shoot into their veins. Simple enough, until Sarah gets caught by a crazy Dr. Robert Olson (heavily played by underground legend, Joel D. Wynkoop). He tells her she’s caught the ROT (the Robert Olson Transmutation virus), laughs a lot, then goes and talks to a toilet.

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The story here is kinda cool, and the effects are great and thoroughly disgusting, and there’s even a pretty cool punk soundtrack, so the shaky acting and occasional poor quality of the video are excusable. Yes, there’s some over-acting. Yes, there are scenes where it is way too dark to see what is going on. You can’t even read the names in the credits. But getting to watch two people rotting away, then a guy have his flesh peeled from his skull, and then a dude have his head literally punched off, only to be reattached using duct tape? More than worth the bad parts!

Rot is a super low budget horror film, shot on video somewhere in Florida (I’m pretty sure it’s Florida anyway). And let’s not forget, this is directed by, and has special effects done by, Marcus Koch. You know that name because of movies like 100 Tears, American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore, Nikos the Impaler, Circus of the Dead, and many others. So even if the acting is sometimes as shaky as the camera, you’ve already got more than enough reason to check this one out. The special effects are the highlight of this film. Heads are exploding, limbs are flying, and without saying too much or giving away any spoilers, there’s a fantastic fight scene at the end, a 1 vs 100 type scenario, that ends up more fun than you might imagine.

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Rot is a little bit Repo Man, a little bit Suburbia, but add in the necrophilia and the zombie-like after effects. The tone and feeling of dread and hopelessness is established early, partially through the trouble the main characters find themselves in, but equally as a natural aspect of Sarah and Muzzy as human beings. They are often at each others’ throats, when they’re not fighting the landlord or running from government agents, and in the end we’re left wondering what might have happened to them if the ROT never even appeared in their lives. The story and effects of this low budget gorefest are well worth the purchase price. If you can overlook some first time actors stumbling over their lives and take Rot for what it is, I think you’ll appreciate its effort as I have.

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