Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Dead Undead – review

Directors: Matthew R Anderson & Edward Conna

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

When a project completes in 2006 and then fails to materialise until late 2010 and then fails to get onto a DVD until 2011 you know there is likely to be a flaw with it. The general premise of The Dead Undead was ok, the vampire zombie crossover was fun but there were terrible flaws – not least of which is the UK DVD cover, which is misleading at the very least – yes we get packs of running zombies but nothing like the horde on the cover and not a city in sight.

It starts at night with soldiers running through the woods and at least one person being shot and then…

in the lake
We are in daytime and we meet a group of kids. At this point I’m tempted to not list them, bar Summer (Cameron Goodman, Rise: Blood Hunter), as the rest don’t last that long but they are… Curtis (Joshua Alba), Travis (Johnny Pacar), Shelly (America Young) and Megan (Laura Kenley). They get to a motel by a lake; no one is around so they go swimming. Back to the motel, steal room keys and then… As Summer showers a creepy kid gets from under the bed and stands above Megan, dripping blood on her head. She screams, Summer rushes in and pulls him away, sunlight hits his chest, he smokes and then he runs into a cupboard.

Okay, so apparently a vampire of sorts (smoking in the sun). In the cupboard they find a crawlspace so block the cupboard off. Summer takes Megan for a shower – blood is washed over her mouth. Shelly screams at a mouse and so is put in the other girls’ room whilst the boys look for guns in their truck. Outside the girls' room two men appear and start beating each other (remember this and the little boy, I’ll be returning to them). The boys are attacked, Megan says she feels ill and (once the boys have dropped a couple of attackers, seen one of them get back up and been bitten or killed) a bunch of commandos appear…

Luke Goss as Jack
The commandos are led by Jack (Luke Goss, Cold and Dark and Blade 2) and include Viper (Matthew R Anderson), Doc (Edward Conna), Gabrielle (Spice Williams-Crosby, Revamped, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Aries (Luke LaFontaine). Now we discover that these ZVs as they are called are actually zombie vampires and it goes a little something like this…

Megan turning
Nearby is a town that was a haven for ‘vegetarian’ vampires – who only ate cow’s blood (and thus are weaker and, yes the commandos are all vampires). A week earlier some started becoming ill and transformed into the ZVs. They have no self control and are, essentially, a running zombie variant or perhaps that should be zompire. The reason – a form of mad cow’s disease. Now, remember this because all the ZVs seem to group together – later we find they are holed up in a cave together – yet the two in the corridor beat each other, one ripping the other apart… why? Worse they have no control and yet the little mini-ZV stood above Megan dripping blood on her rather than immediately attacking. All it takes is a bite or some of their blood getting into a wound, your mouth or the eye… yes Megan is turning, as is one of the boys – the other is dead and soon Shelly turns over a truck and dies. Leaving Summer, the commandos and… Lance (Lance Frank, Revamped) – a survivor who turns up looking for his wife... you already know how that storyline will end.

a zv - or zompire
Aries gets bitten and puts a bomb belt on – with Doc holding the detonator and, unknown to any of them, Gabrielle has been scratched and infected. Fair enough and the fact that the most of the commandos seem to be, primarily, played by stunt artists doesn’t matter as action is meant to be the first order of the day. Flashbacks to their pasts and how Jack turned them (he’s robed with cowl but the voice is a give away) seems unnecessary and, whilst we are on it, Gabrielle and Aries are not, to my knowledge, traditional Viking names.

Jack ready to kick ass
If I could wave a magic wand over this I would have a couple of the kids survive longer – perhaps taking the Lance role – as their presence seems almost unnecessary as things stand. I’d deal with the pesky mini-ZV as its vanishing was annoying. I’d maybe cut out the flashbacks (either altogether or at least one or two of them) they spoilt the flow and I’d have more ZV killing.

a vampire
So, how do they die? Bullets slow them, and one in the head stuns… You need to destroy the head, sever the spinal column, set fire to them or put them in the sun. Same, I guess, goes for our vampires who are weaker than they should be after years of living on cow’s blood. The vampires have stored vials of their blood due to a legend that there is a place where a fallen vampire can be resurrected from a drop of their blood – jack describes it that a cell of vampire blood contains all their form and memories like a microchip. Perhaps this is where you could have had flashbacks, have Jack turning someone with his blood and have them view the turning of the others as they have imbibed his memories… too late now though, however this is clearly the set up for a sequel should one ever be made. Vampires (not in the community) do not feed directly from humans but have a blood donation underground system due to the dangers of Hepatitis and AIDS.

bad effect
There were some good ideas in here that were not expanded on, some mis-pacing due to the flashbacks and some wasted use of characters. There was a blooming awful effect moment when a ZV in a wheelchair (Forrest J Ackerman) was set alight with an incendiary shell. The fact that, once alight, his face was clearly a Halloween mask, seen clearly within the blaze was... unfortunate. This film was designed to be a fun, no-brainer actioner. It nearly was. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Clark49 said...

Hmmmm. First Vampires Vs Zombies, now The Dead Undead. Thinking that a really good Vampire/Zombie crossover is desperately needed to satisfy my craving for blood, gore and general mayhem (starts plotting ideas and wondering how to sell them to film studios)

Somebody must have an idea for a crossover film that isn't just a good idea poorly made/acted or a poor idea well acted or a poor idea poorly acted, after all the only option left is a good idea well acted/directed etc. The ideas are out there I think, how to generate awareness is another matter, but on a personal level I am crying out for a GOOD Vampire/Zombie film (my 2 favourite genres).

Taliesin_ttlg said...

agreed :)