Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard (Blu-Ray Review)

Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard (Blu-Ray Review)Debuting on DVD, Digital and Best Buy exclusive Blu-Ray, indie horror film ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD tells the story of a small compound surviving in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, guarded by an elite gun-slinging crew called “Zombie Killers.” Produced and directed by B horror veteran Harrison Smith, ZOMBIE KILLERS stars Billy Zane (Titanic, Back to the Future, Zoolander) as the ex-military leader of the killing crew Seiler; Michael Kean in his first role as Ian, member of the ragtag crew and the film’s lead; Brian Gallagher (Close Up, 6 Degrees of Hell, Camp Dread) as community member Rory; Mischa Barton (The O.C., The Sixth Sense) as his ostracized pregnant wife, and Brian Anthony Wilson (6 Degrees of Hell, Apocalypse Kiss) as the messianic leader of the compound. Bonus materials include a behind the scenes featurette on both the look of the film and the making of, as well as a segment with the folks behind the YouTube channel Bloodbath & Beyond.



This zombie film bit off more than it could chew. The story of Elwood, a post-apocalyptic take on the gated community, gets muddied as filmmaker Smith and writer David Agnew Penn try to explore too many themes. The Zombie Killers, led by Zane’s Seiler and decked out in custom paintball uniforms, train by playing paintball (because there’s no shortage of the pellets in the apocalypse), patrol the fence and go out into the surrounding wilderness to find food. The head of the compound itself is a large, stoic man named Doc, who uses his general practice doctor skills to test inhabitants for the zombie virus in his kitchen, and evict infected community members (or anyone who poses too much of a threat to his power). Doc has his own little brute squad that runs affairs in the town, and clashes with the young Zombie Killers (we’re never sure why). Then one day, community member Rory, ostracized by the zealous cult-like Christians of the compound, gets a random hunch that maybe fracking is responsible for the zombie virus, and goes out with Seiler and a couple of his crew to investigate the nearby fracking site. On top of all this, a miles-long horde of zombies is heading toward Elwood, reminiscent of dying elephants’ treks to an elephant’s graveyard (thus, the title).

The film tries to deal with the source of the zombie virus (the hot environmental issue of fracking), abuse of power, religious zealotry, the meaning of life (surviving vs. living) and a very unrealistic love story between our unlikely lead Ian and the town nurse. Characters arc out of nowhere and do uncharacteristic things for no reason other than that’s what the plot needed them to do. There is one thing this film does well though, and that’s its self-awareness. Zane’s Seiler makes references to the zombie flicks of the world before the apocalypse, and there’s even a scene where the characters banter famous film one-liners at each other. Unfortunately, this self-awareness stops at the movie references, and the film takes itself far too seriously for how bad its special effects are (more on that later).

As for our cast, the performances are all pretty strong, especially in light of it being an indie B-movie. Apart from a poor performance from the miscast Michael Kean as the lead Ian and an overacting performance from Dan McGlaughlin as Doc’s tough-guy henchman Dero, the acting is refreshingly good. This is even more impressive when the uneven way the characters are written is taken into account.

The production elements manage to be both the best part and the worst part of the film at the same time. The makeup and zombie choreography is fantastic. The special effects are laughable and awful. I know it’s a low budget picture, but a good thing for indie filmmakers to understand is if you don’t have the money to do it right, don’t do it at all. Or, embrace the lost art of shoe-string budget practical effects, because the moment the bad CG zombie-deer rampaged across the screen, I was gone. I was with this film despite the awkward story, because Billy Zane and some of the other characters were charming and entertaining. But then we see a character shooting wildly at CG zombie fish leaping out of the water at her. And an awkward, campy, sequel-baiting ending with a campy man with a bad Irish accent, destroyed business suit and golf club completely clashes with how serious the first half of the film tried to be.

Fans of indie-horror might enjoy taking a look for the new perspective on the zombie film, as well as some decent performances, but it’s not a film you need to add to your collection.




Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.38: 1

Clarity/Detail: The look of the film itself is gorgeous, especially when considering that this is an independent horror film. Apart from bad blurry CGI, this is a very strong transfer: subjects are very clear, and the detail is fantastic.

Depth: There are a ton of outside, sprawling environment shots, and depth definitely plays a big part in making the characters feel isolated.

Black Levels: Blacks are solid, especially during the couple night scenes. Even when the blacker-than-night bad CGI wolf/bear zombie things attack, they’re at least a good deep black.

Color Reproduction: The director was going for a Western feel, and his cinematographer delivered. The colors are good, with an overall yellowish pall to it. It manages to be vibrant and aged-looking without sacrificing too much color.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural, and nobody ever looks yellow. This may be attributed to the abundance of natural lighting used for all those outdoor scenes.

Noise/Artifacts: Solid sound transfer as well.


zombie fish

Zombie Fish


Audio Format(s): English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Sporting a lossless soundtrack, ZOMBIE KILLERS has clear, easily understood dialogue and an impressively robust score. The score never overshadows the dialogue though, and sets the mood perfectly in scenes where there’s no talking.

Low Frequency Extension: The score and the zombie moans are benefited by the LFE, but oddly enough the gunshots aren’t. They fall flat and are unimpressive, with no punch, a problem for a movie with a lot of gunfire.

Surround Sound Presentation: There’s not a lot going on in the background of this film, but night time ambience noises are used well to immerse the viewer. The score uses the system effectively, as does the big battle scene.

Dialogue Reproduction: Again, dialogue is clear and intelligible. Subtitles are synced up, but there’s a couple typos that may confuse the hearing impaired.


The Blu-Ray has three behind the scenes featurettes, each clocking in at around five minutes. They manage to be succinct and stay on topic, but  it looks like they only had BTS filming done on one day, because you’ll see the same shots over and over again on each one.

Features Include:

  • Bloodbath & Beyond (1080p, 4:32) – The guys from YouTube’s Bloodbath & Beyond talk about their experience coming on set, and the atmosphere of the shoot.
  • The Look of ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPTHANT’S GRAVEYARD (1080p, 5:24) – The makeup artist and set designer talk about creating the look of the zombies and sets.
  • ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD: Behind the Scenes (1080p, 4:56) – The actors and crew give their thoughts on the film and the production process.




Overall, the quality of the Blu-Ray itself is very nice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how nice the presentation is if the film itself is bad, and despite relatively strong performances and some great zombie makeup, the film on it is subpar and over-ambitious. You don’t need to rush out to Best Buy to get this exclusive.



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