Rating: 1 Brain
Directed by: Edward Conna
Starring: Luke Goss, Cameron Goodman, Johnny Pacar
Synopsis: Some teenagers go off for a sex romp at a motel in a remote town, and end up attacked by zombies. Some friendly neighborhood vampires show up to help. Yes, you read that right.
I found The Dead Undead on Netflix while cruising for zombie flicks. This is definitely an attention grabbing title; its comedic redundancy makes me hopeful that it will be a self-aware B-movie, kind of like a lower budget, lower class Evil Dead 2.
What I’m going to do is watch it, and write this article while watching it, to share my insights in real time. Or something close to that. There’s a storm brewing outside, so I’m really looking forward to an afternoon of horror in a thunderstorm. Such a great atmosphere (or atmosFEAR bwaha)!
I did a quick IMDB search of the stars for an idea of what I’m in for here. Luke Goss played Steve Fox in the Tekken movie (in other news: there’s a Tekken movie). Cameron Goodman has Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure listed among her top credits, a Disney straight-to-DVD flick that seems to be about a ditzy blonde and a dog (somehow I missed that one), and Johnny Pacar is mostly a dude who does small roles on TV shows and in low budget movies – so he’s just kinda doing that again here. The actors are all small time players, but what got me strangely excited was director Edward Conna. On IMDB he has 5 directing credits (2 unreleased thus far, and one is this). He does have a whopping 122 credits as a stuntman though. I’m very interested to see what kind of movie a stuntman comes up with, so this should be fun!
Okay. Vampires vs. zombies. Let’s begin.
The opening credit sequence is all dudes with guns stalking through the woods with generic hard rock guitar music playing. So far, exactly what I’d expect from a stuntman.
After that we see our main characters. Five idiot teenagers pour out of a truck. Looks like one of those dumb teenagers-on-a-roadtrip movies. The female characters let us know immediately that they don’t like being called “chicks” and prefer “bitches.” This isn’t one of those groups with several morons and a couple of smart types who will become our heroes later. Everyone in this group immediately proves to be an irredeemable fucktard. Those zombies can’t come fast enough.
The first time one of the girls is alone, a little kid pops up and drools blood on the napping girl, who fights it off and it runs away. She spends the next 10 minutes of the film flipping out about getting blood on her.
Things escalate pretty quickly. Within about 10 more minutes, one of the girls is turning into a zombie, one of the guys has been bitten, and the other has had his throat ripped out. This pleases me; these people are horrible. When everything has gone to hell, what appears to be the local redneck militia comes rolling up, armed to the teeth with assault rifles and shotguns, to start blowing the zombies away. That same generic hard rock from the opening starts playing – I think one of the dudes must have a boombox or something, as it seems this music is going to play whenever these guys show up. As a fun note, when they open fire, the gunfire looks a little strange; I paused it to examine it, and it looks like the gunfire has been added via computer in editing, and kinda looks like the explosions from movies with bigger budgets photoshopped into each frame at the tip of each gun. The sound effects for the gunfire don’t sync up right, and the CG fire doesn’t look right either. This really screams “low budget,” because even in the crappiest movies, I am not used to seeing bad gunfire.
The shots are framed all wrong. There is a scene where one of the militia people fights a zombie with her fists (with a big blade strapped to her back the whole time), and it takes way too long…she punches it, it shambles back, she hits it with a bat, it shambles back. It’s a sign of a bad director when they don’t know when to cut. Scenes go on too long, we’re shown shots we don’t need to see.
The zombies in this movie, and the peoples’ reaction to them, brings up an old question about zombie outbreaks. This clearly takes place in the early days of this epidemic, as only this small band of soldier guys knows what’s going on. The confusion about current events and response aside, it’s strange that the soldier guys refer to this as “some kind of infection” and yet they have already resorted to headshots as the cure. Would this happen in real life? I would think the first few victims of the zombie virus would have gone to hospitals, and science would be baffled, but looking for some kind of cure. So how long after the outbreak is the decision made that these are ghouls who must be stopped by bullets and cannot be helped? This stage is usually disregarded in zombie movies, and at best glossed over (“doctors tried to contain it, but it spread too fast”). It’s still all wrong in this movie though, because we’ve gotten to the point where a local militia knows that these monsters can only be killed in certain ways, that it’s an infection, and they even have terminology for them…and yet no one has gotten to a hospital about it, and there has been no news about it? Clearly the civilians in the film have not heard of this.
Oh, okay. They’re ZV’s. Zombie vampires. The zombies can only be killed by sunlight and decapitation. This is really going downhill now. I thought we’d get real vampires. Not this garbage.
Okay, I’m sorry. Hold on. One of the soldier guys came in contact with some zombie blood and might be infected…and they have this explosive belt to make him wear in case he turns. How are they that prepared for this? Why are they fighting with swords now when its been established that exposure to blood can cause infection?
I just looked it up by the way – all the main soldier boys characters are played by stunt men.
So, the one who got infected tells the girl one not to be sad that he’s dying, because he’s going to “the halls of Valhalla.” Which sounded pretty lame. But then when they blow him up, we are treated to like a 5 minute viking battle sequence. It’s actually pretty cool, and as stupid as it seems, possibly the only redeeming moment in this film. Seriously, this thing goes on so long that it’s like…what the hell? And yet…in the middle of a shitty zombie movie, suddenly we’re in…oh, I see. The soldier guys were vampires the whole time. Now we’re seeing when they were made into vampires on some ancient battle field. It’s not as awesome as the random trip to Valhalla I thought we were taking, but still better than the action porn we were just watching where they let loose half the movie’s budget in artillery on a horde of zeds.
It turns out that the hordes of zombies are actually vampires who have contracted Mad Cow disease because they feed on cow blood. It would appear that they had a whole village of vampires, and now most of them are zombies. Salem’s Lot has had a zombie outbreak.
Most of the vampires and humans die in stupid ways. The surviving blonde human – I’ve forgotten her name already – escapes in a van with Jack, the main vampire guy. They crash, he’s hurt, she offers up some blood to turn him into a super bad ass again (like the scene toward the end of the first Blade movie). There is mention of an “ancient prophecy” about some place where a vampire can be reborn, which is of course super lame. He cuts a bunch of zombies down, then another platoon of vampires shows up and mows down the zombies with some machine guns. The main vampire from this backup squad confirms that the ancient prophecy is true. And we’re suddenly in a very different movie.
…and then we’re not. That’s the end of it.
You know, I get when a big budget movie leaves the ending open for the possibility of a sequel. But did the producers of The Dead Undead really expect that they’d have a second film greenlit? Based on the strength of the first? And a quick Google search reveals no details regarding a sequel, and given that the movie is now 4 years old, it’s clearly not going to happen.
The Dead Undead is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. And that includes Charles Angels 2 and The Incredible Hulk. It apparently had a budget of 1.1 million bucks, and from the look of it, about 1 million went to fake guns and effects, and the remaining .1 went into actors, crew, script, lighting equipment, and non-gun related effects. It’s a lot like this flash game Endless Zombie Rampage. That game is basically Act 2 of this film…just an endless flood of zombies, and a machine gun cutting them down. And while it’s an awesome game, I wouldn’t consider optioning it for a film.
Very little planning went into this movie. Every element is bad, from the dialogue and acting, to the lighting and sound, and right down to the blocking and framing of the shots. It looks like what a bunch of high school kids would come up with if they were given $1.1 million to make a movie. That lack of planning is evident in the story, too. It’s a zombie movie. No wait, it’s a movie about a fallen vampire village. No wait, it’s about an ancient prophecy and a vampire’s quest to fulfill it. It’s like the first draft of a 9th grade creative writing project, that never got workshopped, graded, or even proofread.
I discussed before how bad direction is evident in the overly lengthy scenes. There is also unnecessary dialogue. That happens, though…just look at the Lord of the Rings extended cuts, with their 60,000 extra words of dialogue across the 75 scenes that got cut from each film. The difference, though, is that those scenes got cut. The Dead Undead decided to keep them all. What’s even worse is that there are entire characters that the film could have done without. This guy Curtis (played by Joshua Alba, who is, strangely enough, Jessica Alba’s brother), randomly wanders up in one scene and joins the soldier guys and the remaining idiot teenager. His presence affects nothing, only contributing a few bullets to some of the gun porn scenes, and then he wanders off in the woods and gets killed. There was no reason for that character, or any of his scenes, to be in this movie.
When you’re directing and editing a movie, you take crap like that and you cut it out. You look at Fellowship of the Ring and the whole sequence with Tom Bombadil in the book, and you say “you know what, we’d have a tighter script if this guy wasn’t in it.” Hell, it might have been even better if he hadn’t opened with all these other teenagers. The vampire soldiers are clearly the main characters – why not start with them, show a little bit of this group of kids getting attacked, and they come across it? Rather than showing up like the damn A-Team in the middle of someone else’s movie?
I enjoy a B-movie as much as the next guy – maybe even more so – and if this movie was “fun bad” then I’d recommend it. It is not. It is just bad bad. If you enjoy watching crappy movies to pick them apart like I have, then you might enjoy this. But if you like watching movies that are so bad they’re funny, this isn’t that sort of movie. The dialogue is cringeworthy, the plot is very thin, and much of it is entirely unnecessary. See it if you like, but promise me you won’t buy the DVD or anything. Please don’t reward these peoples’ “effort” by spending money on it.