This month I attended the world premiere of Steve Hudgins’ (and his production company, Big Biting Pig Productions) latest indie horror epic, Hell is Full. Filmed in tiny Madisonville, Kentucky, this film proves that you don’t have to live in L.A. or New York to make a great movie.
Hudgins has crafted the funniest zombie film I’ve seen since Shaun of the Dead. But don’t let that statement mislead you. Aside from the title (Dawn of the Dead’s tagline was "When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth"), this film is not an homage to Romero’s film series; rather it is a unique and hysterical take on the popular genre.
Hudgins is an excellent writer and director and he has created an excellent little film. The plot revolves around a meteor that lands on Earth carrying some sort of virus that turns otherwise healthy people into the living dead. As people get sick, they spread the virus by coughing, kissing, or any contact with bodily fluids (and there are plenty of those in evidence as each victim spits up large quantities of blood as they get sicker). But instead of creating a linear plot that tells the story from beginning to end, Hudgins takes a page out of Magnolia and Pulp Fiction. Each of the main characters are introduced with a title card containing their name, and in 10 minutes or so, their story is told, including how they came in contact with the deadly virus. As each character’s story unfolds, the viewer is able to see how all the characters are ultimately connected. After all, we are in small-town Kentucky…..
I particularly enjoyed this plotting device. I also enjoyed seeing all the characters coming in and out of each other’s stories further illustrating the connections between the members of this small-town community. This is intricate and complicated plotting and must have been difficult to write, but Hudgins does a superb job of making connections and tying the characters and events together.
The score is minimal and simplistic, but eerily effective and quite suitable for the film, being used primarily during zombie attacks. And what’s a zombie movie without blood and gore? While the film is bloody, Hudgins steers clear of the major gross-out effects, so even the wimps can watch this film without worrying about too much violence. There are even a couple of effective jump-scares. But where Hudgins really excels is with his comedy writing. Whether it is a local character telling a funny but politically incorrect joke, two characters riffing on each other about hunting and fishing, or the crusty old farm wife who makes a comment about The Blob when her family starts poking the meteorite with a stick, the film had the audience howling with laughter and having a blast. Easily the most popular scene with the audience has a hospital janitor kneeling down next to a mysterious yellow puddle to figure out what it could be. "Eeewww, this smells like piss," the janitor says. I don’t want to totally ruin the joke, but the audience roared at the janitor’s solution for figuring out what the puddle contained.
The production values were excellent and all of the actors were terrific. It is obvious that Hudgins knows his craft well. Hell is Full is a perfect mix of chills and humor and is a darn good time. I haven’t had a chance to see any of Big Biting Pig’s other productions, but given how much I enjoyed Hell is Full, I’ve moved them to the top of my Netflix queue. Hell is Full is destined to go down in history as one of the great comedy-horror classics. I highly recommend it. For ordering information, please go to www.bigbitingpigproductions.com.