‘City of Rott‘ is a relatively obscure animated zombie-comedy that was released in 2006.
City of Rott is a unique animated horror film and an extraordinary achievement for its creator Frank Sudol, who directed, produced, wrote, edited, animated, composed the music and voiced every character. For a feature length film to be the sole work of one individual is nothing less than incredible and Sudol deserves maximum credit for the achievement, but the question remains; is City of Rott any good?
Unsurprisingly given the film’s production, the animation is pretty basic (with shades of South Park on which Sudol has worked) but it definitely has a look all of its own, and one which is well suited its story. The elderly Fred (looking a little like Roald Dahl’s BFG), has one simple goal; to find a pair of comfortable loafers. But there is one major obstacle in his way; the fact that the city is overrun with zombies. Fred’s principal weapon is his walker which he use to crush the skulls of these surprisingly fragile zombies. The walker is also Fred’s only company, he talks to it and it seems to talk back to him, although it later turns out that the situation is a little more complicated than that.
What this simple, goal-driven story really feels like, and what the animation style makes it look like, is an early 80s arcade game. Basically it’s just a nicely bizarre excuse to have lot of scenes (and I do mean a LOT) of an old man killing zombies with copious animated gore, disgusting sound effects and a pumping soundtrack.
The zombies are caused by a parasite called a rot-worm which kills people and then brings their decomposing corpses back to life to eat flesh and thus pass the worms on. It’s a skin-crawlingly unpleasant interpretation of the zombie lifecycle.
The medium of animation means that the zombies can be gloriously gory in their appearance and Sudol has put plenty of imagination into creating them. Although not quite as much as he’s put into destroying them. Heads explode, intestines are stretched out, eyeballs popped, all inter-cut with flashed images of the worms wriggling through the veins of their poor victims.
Given its central plot you won’t be surprised to learn that City of Rott does not take itself seriously. There’s some brilliantly witty and nicely knowing humour, nodding at classic zombie lore (‘Zombies can’t resist a mall’ says Fred at one point) or poking fun at consumer culture in the many billboards around the stricken city (‘Be Cool. Be Normal. Buy this shirt.’). As with a lot of animation you have to read everything to spot all the jokes and so the film does reward repeat viewings. Fred is an engaging central character and we feel genuine emotion when events take a turn a for the worse. It’s initially annoying that he and the walker have the exact same voice and most of the other characters sound pretty similar too (Sudol is not exactly Dan Castellaneta) but you get used to it.
The only real problem with City of Rott is that, although it’s only 78 minutes, it’s just too long. For starters there is a very natural place for it to end about an hour in and almost everything after that seems pointless and tacked on. But to be honest, there’s not really enough story to fill that first hour. Fred’s search for shoes is not very focused, he’s not doing anything specific, he just meanders around occasionally complaining that his feet hurt to remind us of what his ultimate goal is.
When he’s not wandering then Fred is kicking zombie ass, and while these fights are imaginative, there are so many of them and each is so long that they start to become dull.
It seems churlish to criticise City of Rott, especially given its remarkable production, and there is much in there to enjoy in the film. But I just wish it was a bit shorter.
The mostly positive response to the film led Frank Sudol to follow up with a sequel in 2014 called simply ‘City of Rott 2‘ (Amazon.com)
Watch the trailer for ‘City of Rott’:
Watch the movie:
|Get the film at Amazon.com|
|Get the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Robin Bailes