A new drug is taking over the streets. Determined to rid the streets of crime, Eddie Boone and his partner are on a stakeout to try and get themselves one step closer to a dealer. However due to a set up, Eddie’s partner ends up missing and Eddie gets injected with the drug known only as ozone. Starting to have some wicked side effects, Eddie learns the truth about ozone that besides providing a buzz it also turns you into a zombie. Now Eddie must learn the truth behind ozone’s creator and stop him before his drug takes hold of society.
J.R. Bookwalter is a pretty well known name to indie fans. His Dead Next Door is required viewing for low budget horror aficionados. However maybe not nearly well known is one of his other forays into directing, Ozone (a.k.a. Street Zombies). The film takes off quickly and never really slows down. The story pretty much follows Eddie on his bad trip on ozone where he learns the evil truth behind the drug. Much like Dead, this too is loaded with gore. While not quite as over the top as Dead the gore does serve more purpose here. From the opening scene the gore and guts fly. The bladder work is extremely effective and thoroughly disgusting. Anybody who doesn’t like needles or drug scenes is going to have a tough time getting through this one. And there is one heck of a nasty birthing scene. Shot on Super VHS and a steadicam the camera work here is excellent. Bookwalter keeps the camera moving when he can but also knows his limitations at the same time. Odd angles and camera movements really put us inside Eddie’s bad trip with him.
The acting here is another place that the film really shines. James Black is basically on his own carrying the film and boy does he carry it well. This easily ranks up there as one of the best low budget leads. Black has a presence that demands attention and he is very charismatic. My only complaint is can someone please teach the guy how to smoke a cigarette. Now while Black is the only main character that isn’t to say the secondary aren’t worthwhile. Filled with familiar faces to Tempe fans, the supporting cast is excellent as well. James L. Edwards, of Bloodletting fame, has numerous roles in the film. It is quite interesting to try and watch for other people such as Matthew Jason Walsh also filling several character spots. There is also a great little scene with some Hellraiser type characters, one played by Edwards, that very well may be the best part of the film.
I first saw Ozone years ago on a worn out VHS tape and I hadn’t been able to find the film for years. Thanks to the folks at Tempe and Wizard Video this little seen gem is back and hopefully its cult following will continue to grow. J.R. Bookwalter is really an excellent indie film director and this film is entertaining as hell. A first rate performance from James Black doesn’t hurt things either. Loaded with gore but still boasting a good story, Ozone is fun from beginning to end. Recommended for indie fans and those looking for something a little different from their zombie films. This is required viewing for Tempe fans to see all their favorites in various roles shemping it up. 7 out of 10