Bath Salt Zombies (DVD review).

March 29, 2013 | By | Reply More

‘Bath Salt Zombies’ is the latest ultra-low budget horror film from independent American director Dustin Wayde Mills. I reviewed his last movie, ‘Zombie A-Hole’ for SFCrowsnest six months ago and found it a partial success. ‘Bath Salt Zombies’ continues the grindhouse vibe of that film and reunites its two leading actors, Brandon Salkil and Josh Eal.


Richie (Brandon Salkil) is a New Yorker who is addicted to ‘bath salts’, the street name for a new type of designer drug that has taken the South-West USA by storm. Following major crackdowns by local law enforcement agencies, the suppliers, dealers and users have migrated across America to New York. When Richie goes to his regular supplier for a fix, he’s given a free sample pack of a new bath salts derivative in cigarette form.

Josh Eal plays Agent Forster of the Drugs Enforcement Agency. He’s trying to find the source of a new strain of bath salts that are so powerful they are turning users into violent zombies who attack and kill anyone they come into contact with while they’re high.

When Richie smokes his first free cigarette, it quickly becomes clear that it contains the dangerous new strain of bath salts. He attacks the female friend whose apartment he’s in, ripping her face off and killing her. When her boyfriend reappears, he suffers a similar fate. However, when Richie wakes up later, he’s lying in his bath back at home, covered in blood, but can’t initially remember how he got there or what he has done. When he does remember the murders later on, he throws away the rest of the cigarettes. Unfortunately for him, they are highly addictive. Within a few hours, he is seeking out his supplier again, desperate for another packet of the bath salts cigarettes, despite their horrific side-effects.

As Richie’s addiction becomes deeper, his mind becomes warped and his violence gets more extreme. Will Agent Forster be able to find him before there’s a full-scale massacre?

‘Bath Salt Zombies’ is a very low budget film and needs to be judged on that basis. Even so, I’m afraid I was pretty disappointed. The basic concept is interesting enough and Agent Forster’s search for Richie and the source of the dangerous new bath salts has the potential to create conflict and excitement. The gore quotient is reasonably high and the low budget special effects are fun to watch.

On the other hand, the film is extremely short coming in at 59 minutes long without the rather amusing introductory five minute cartoon explaining what bath salts are. In addition, the script is slow-moving, containing several long scenes where nothing much happens. The short running time combined with the slow pace makes for a simplistic linear narrative with no sub-plots, limited characterisation and very little complexity. When we do get to the set-piece zombie scenes, they lose much of their dramatic impact because the limited back story of most of the victims makes it difficult to care what happens to them.

The DVD contains two extras. There’s a short trailer for the movie and a commentary from director Dustin Wayde Mills and lead actor Brandon Salkil.

Mills is a prolific young filmmaker with some interesting ideas. However, the lesson of ‘Bath Salt Zombies’ is that gore on its own is not enough to sustain an entire feature film. He needs to spend more time on characterisation and less on arty shots of people breathing in their own cigarette smoke if he is to produce films that keep the viewer’s attention.

Patrick Mahon

(Region 0 DVD: MVD Visual MVD5555D. 1 DVD 59 minute film with extras. Price: $16.95 (US))
cast: Brandon Salkil, Josh Eal
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Category: Films, Horror

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