Written by: Bo Buckley
Directed by: Gary King
Starring: Christina Rose, Jack Abele, and William Lee
Reviewed by: Brett G.
ďThey're eating her... and then they're going to eat me... OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!Ē
No, this isnít a review of Troll 2; however, the fact that Death of the Dead lifts a quote from that infamous slice of mozzarella madness says a lot more about it than I ever could. Between that and the ridiculous, redundant title, I think itís pretty obvious that this one has been properly introduced.
Wanda is a hopeless nerd (you know this because she wears huge glasses and a sweater) whoís constantly picked on by her fellow classmates. She also happens to be stuck in the middle of a years-long feud between two martial arts instructors. Her karate teacher (known simply as Master Sensei) has been at odds with his rival (appropriately-named Evil Sensei) ever since their pimp master (no, heís literally a pimp) bestowed a magic belt upon Master Sensei. Meanwhile, a couple of doctors conveniently end up with some leftover toxic waste from an experiment. It spills out into the path of the evil karate students, who are soon turned into the living dead! Even worse, everyone they kill suddenly become carnivorous martial arts experts. Now itís up to Wanda to channel her inner-Woody Harrelson and become a zombie killing machine (youíll know when she does this when she ditches the glasses and wears a skimpy ninja suit).
An obvious farce, Death of the Dead is an irreverent undead romp. Itís got the trappings of a teen comedy early, and it doesnít let up on the silliness at any point after that. In fact, I think itís safe to say that there isnít a single serious moment in the entire movie. This is not to say that all of the humor hits (thereís plenty of misses), but by the end of it all, it manages to bludgeon you into submission and youíre oddly drawn into the Troma-esque proceedings. I suppose itís a bit of a train-wreck mentality in that the movie is so off the rails that you canít help but look. It probably also helps that the movie throws in copious amounts of scantily-clad girls and plenty of blood; letís face it, this movie knows its audience and plays to them well enough.
This isnít exactly the type of movie where you need good characters--only memorable ones. There are just enough of those between the two sensei and the rest of the ridiculous cast thatís made up of catty girls and perverted old men. The protagonist, Wanda, is so pitiful that you canít help but feel sorry for her; once she finally emerges as a confident zombie-basher, itís not exactly a revelatory moment that represents the triumph of the human spirit, but itís fun enough. You might have to do a double take because star Christina Rose changes from a mousy geek to a sultry killing machine within the blink of an eye. Sheís certainly the standout among an inexperienced cast thatís full of rough performances. But letís be honest, it isnít like acting and characterization are the main attraction here.
Instead, letís talk about why youíre here: the death of the dead, as it were. Thereís a decent amount of zombie carnage to be found here, though itís pretty much confined to two centerpiece scenes. The bloodletting includes the conventional decapitations, throat rippings, and gut spilling; more unconventional is a scene where a zombie loses his manhood, which is re-appropriated as nun-chucks for our heroine. If that doesnít sum up this one in a nutshell , I donít know what does. The action here is of the herky-jerky variety, and itís cropped too closely for its own good in most cases. Still, King is wise enough to show the gore-soaked aftermath of it all. Generally-speaking, the production values heís working with are high enough, so the gore effects look as visceral and disgusting as they should.
It doesnít have much to offer besides these over-the-top scenes of violence and a lot of crude humor, but Death of the Dead works out of those modes as well as can be reasonably expected. Itís more often ridiculous and overbearing (some jokes wear out their welcome pretty quickly) than it is genuinely funny, but itís fine popcorn fare. It looks like Strange Stuff Productions is still looking to secure distribution for this one; it can currently be purchased directly from their website (see below). If it manages to claw its way to shelves or online rental services, it wonít be much worse than a lot of the low-budget direct-to-video fare that zombie enthusiasts have encountered over the years. Rent it!
For more information, please visit the Strange Stuff website.
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