This heartwarming tale opens with mass murderer "Shadow" (Candyman’s Tony Todd) filing his teeth down to broken fangs and performing occult blood rituals in his cell as he patiently waits to be executed. When the hour comes, he is strapped to a table for lethal injection, shot up with toxic chemicals and dies. Sort of. It seems the state did him a favour. At the very least, it looks like they put their faith in the wrong god. Massive carnage ensues as Shadow’s blood snakes through the prison, possessing prisoners and leading to a savage, supernatural revolt. Hordes of rioting inmates are shot to pieces by guards and buried in a mass grave out by the prison yard. A good day for justice.
CUT TO: today. The prison has been turned into the Ellis Glen Experimental Correctional Facility for Women, an institution that believes in "spiritual rehabilitation through physical improvement," which means that many of the inmates work out around the clock and are absolutely gigantic! Enter sexy Solitaire ("because I don’t play well with others"), a street-fighting jail newbie with psychic abilities and a penchant for slamming the hell out of any girl who gets in her face. Her presence will blow the doors off clandestine medical experimentation and will ultimately lead to nothing less than Shadow’s undead return to earth!
A seedy, blood-spattered trash film and damn proud of it, Shadow: Dead Riot is the second 35mm feature production from John Sirabella and Carl Morano, patron saints behind the Media Blasters label. True to their obsessions, they hired noted HK cinematographer Derek Wan (Fist of Legend) to shoot and direct (this is his first U.S. film) and brought on stunt guru Tony Leung Siu-Hung (Drunken Master II) to choreograph the film’s kung-fu sequences. Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid composed the score. Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold’s nasty script blends various retro exploitation genres (women-in-prison, slasher, blaxploitation, Ilsa and her ilk, American kung-fu, zombie, even the It’s Alive films…) and comes out the gate shrieking with gory, tongue-in-cheek thunder. Enthusiastically gratuitous shower scene? Check. Brutal prison riot? Check. Brutal prison riot with zombies? Check. Bare-behind-bars lesbian seduction? Check. Inappropriate use of a fetus? Check. Pervy male doctor sleazing up to inmates he probably should never be allowed near? Check. Nipple piercing via tooth? You bet, check. You get the drift. Suffice to say, Shadow: Dead Riot won’t be winning any humanitarian awards and it ain’t Tarkovsky, but it knows what it is and has lots of tasteless fun running with it.
Hosted by producer Carl Morano and screenwriter Michael Gingoldwebsite
Director: Derek Wan
Screenplay: Michael Gingold, Richard Siegal
Cast: Tony Todd, Carla Greene, Nina Hodoruk, Andrea Langi
Producers: Csaba Bereczki, Carl Morano, John Sirabella
Distributor: Media Blasters