The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 6.23.14: Issue #312 - The Dead (2010)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 06.23.2014
“Zombies!” concludes with a look at the 2010 low budget zombie movie The Dead, some thoughts on Louie season four, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #312: The Dead (2010)
Zombies!: Week 4
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that isn't sure where it went but is pretty sure that it isn't in the basement, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and twelve, Zombies! concludes with the much ballyhooed zombie flick from 2010, The Dead, written and directed by Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford.
The Dead (2010)
When The Dead came out back in 2012 every horror movie nerd in the world wanted to see it. It was a serious zombie movie made in Africa that brought zombies back to their roots (they didn't run). It managed to have a small theatrical run before it hit DVD and, according to Wikipedia, was a big seller for the fine folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment. Now, actually having finally seen The Dead I can see why people were so dang psyched for it when it came out on DVD. It looks great and has a real sense of dread about it. I just wish it wasn't so dang grim.
The movie stars Rob Freeman as Lt. Brian Murphy, an American flight engineer who ends up being the sole survivor of a plane crash in West Africa. The continent of Africa is under siege by a mysterious force that transforms the recently dead into, well, zombies. If you die you become one and if you get bitten by one you become one. The only way to kill the zombies is to shoot them in the head (you can also shoot yourself in the head right after being bitten and prevent yourself from becoming one). So after swimming out of the ocean and finding a crate full of supplies, Murphy starts looking for help. There have to be other survivors. While looking for said help Murphy meets Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Price David Osei), a local soldier who is looking for his son. Daniel's wife (Leala Tall) apparently sent Daniel's son (Gaal Hama) to a military base to be protected from the zombie hordes. So then some stuff happens, Murphy and Daniel find a truck, and they start driving. So then some more stuff happens, Murphy and Daniel find a village full of survivors who refuse to leave their home, they kill a bunch of zombies, and Murphy has flashbacks about his wife and daughter.
At this point in the movie you would think there would be a light moment or a bit of character goofiness, just to break the tension, but instead of a break in the darkness the movie gets darker, grimmer, and nastier. The world of The Dead is bleak and terrible and utterly hopeless. There is an alleged moment of lightness towards the end, right in the middle of a massive zombie attack, but it isn't the big, meaningful moment the movie seems to think it is. It's just awkward.
Now, there's nothing wrong with making a dark and grim and nasty zombie movie. Romero's Night of the Living Dead is dark as hell and features one of the least happy endings in the history of cinema. There's nothing wrong with trying to do that. However, when your entire movie is relentlessly grim and there's no sense of hope at all your movie is probably going to become a rough movie watching experience. After a certain point you're just going to stop actively watching the movie because it's interesting and you're just going to wait for it to be over. And that's what happened to me after about forty five minutes of The Dead. I just stopped caring about it and wanted it to be over.
The movie also features one of the least interesting main characters in recent horror movie history. Freeman is a good actor but he just can't overcome the dullness that is Lt. Murphy. Had the movie made Osei's Daniel the main character perhaps the story wouldn't have been so tough to sit through. At least he would have had a goal to achieve. Yes, Murphy wants to get out of West Africa and back to America, but you know after forty minutes that that will never happen. There's just no hope.
And then there's the big reveal at the end of the movie about what's happening all over the world. To make a long story short there are zombies on every continent on Earth and society is about to collapse. It probably would have been better to make the zombie menace, at least in the first movie of what could be a franchise, a localized thing. That would have provided some hope at the end of the movie, that maybe this zombie thing could be defeated/contained. The movie isn't interested in doing that, though. It just wants to be grim and nasty and sad.
The special effects are quite good. The blood and gore is quite disgusting and the zombie make-up is simple and terrifying. There are a few appliances spread throughout the zombie hordes that look freaking amazing (the opening zombie is one of the best looking zombies of the last decade). And the vacant eye stare that all zombies have is creepy as all hooha.
I wish The Dead had lived up to its reputation. I wish it was a better zombie movie. It's just not that good or all that interesting. It's just too dark, too grim, too nasty. It has some god stuff in it, but in the end it's just boring. You don't want that to happen to any kind of movie. I'm hoping that the sequel, which takes place in India, is a better, more interesting movie. I don't think I can live through another utterly hopeless zombie movie.
Only see The Dead if you absolutely have to. It is worth checking out for the zombie movie completest out there. For everyone else? Eh. Again, see it only if you absolutely have to.
Am I the only one who thought The Dead was a major disappointment?
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 20+
Undead bodies: Hundreds, thousands, millions.
Explosions: At least one.
Doobage: A man walking alone in the desert, a zombie with a seriously messed up leg, arm biting, multiple bullets to the head, a village under siege montage, multiple soldiers being eaten alive, shotgun blast to the face, a nasty leg wound, crate breaking, blood and gore everywhere, a zombie field attack, shotgun shell case smelling, the open desert, attempted car theft attempted tire repair, truck attack with body smashing, canteen stealing, a few good jump scares, a ball of twine, chicken neck breaking, multiple bas roads, a wind sock, another messed up zombie, serious head smashing, a broken radio, zombie hacking, a flashback, a lack of tribal fighting, dead body burning, an overheating truck, an old water pump, a broken axle, a zombie horde, multiple decapitations, a trip wire, dead animal eating, a crying baby, tree sleeping, cliff climbing, hijab stealing, more decapitations, hand removal, more blood and gore, radio fixing, and the end of the world
Kim Richards?: Implied.
Gratuitous: Zombies in Africa, a plane crash, a shotgun blast to face, the open desert, a ball of twine, serious head smashing, blasphemy, dead body burning, witch doctor hooey, multiple flashbacks, talk about nature restoring balance, an old water pump, a crying baby, radio fixing, a guy named Henderson, and the end of the world.
Best lines: "Jesus Christ! Please, let us not blaspheme," "Why is the military protecting this place?," "It's getting cold. It's getting real cold," and "I just don't want you to let my soul walk this Earth."
Next week: The 3rd Annual July: A Month of Chuck Norris begins with Good Guys Wear Black (1978)!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey (this really is going to happen at some point). And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.
And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
The First Big Question: Should George A. Romero make a sequel to Land of the Dead?
The summer of 2015 will mark the tenth anniversary of George A. Romero's return to the zombie movie genre with Land of the Dead, the biggish budget horror action flick that Romero made with Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, and Asia Argento back in 2005. It got some decent reviews from the major credits when it came out, but it wasn't a major box office hit. It made some money in America and internationally (I remember reading something somewhere that the movie made a lot of money in Japan) but it wasn't a major box office force like the remake of Romero's Dawn of the Dead had been. I do remember there being some talk after Land came out on DVD that Universal and some unnamed investors were interested in doing a straight up sequel with all of the survivors and the Dead Reckoning weaponized truck that featured so prominently in Land's plot, but once Romero announced that he was doing a sort of "Romero zombie movie universe reboot" with a found footage thing called Diary of the Dead all Land sequel talk ended.
After Diary of the Dead, Romero made another movie in that rebooted universe, Survival of the Dead, a movie that wasn't all that great but had its moments and was still kind of interesting. Romero has said that he probably has two more zombie movies in him before he stops making/thinking about them (I don't remember where I read that). Should one of those be a sequel to Land of the Dead?
Yes. I would love to see a straight up sequel to Land of the Dead. I would love to know what Simon Baker's Riley Denbo is up to now, along with Asia and Robert Joy's Charlie and the other survivors. Is the Dead Reckoning still around? Has it been downsized? Expanded? What kind of survivors have they run into while out on the road? Is it like Mad Max with zombies out there? And what the heck is Eugene Clark's Big Daddy up to? Is he still leading the zombies to the Promised Land? I bet everyone would love to come back and do it. Baker is busy with The Mentalist, but I bet he would find the time to do it and, with his star clout as the lead of a popular critically acclaimed TV show he could probably help Romero get a proper budget.
So, yes, I think this should happen. Land of the Dead 2 should become a reality. But what do you guys think? Should Romero do another Land of the Dead? Do you want to see what happens next to the crew of the Dead Reckoning?
(Read my review of the Land of the Dead Unrated Director's Cut DVD here.
** Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
-Wolf Creek 2: I'm kind of surprised that this horror movie sequel didn't get a wide theatrical release, as the first movie is well known and star John Jarratt has become a sort of biggish deal now that Quentin Tarantino is all about him. I haven't seen the first movie yet, so I think I'm going to make an effort to see that before I see this. It looks fabulous.
-Repentance: I love how Forest Whitaker keeps making genre movies. He's an Oscar winner and should be making important, socially relevant art films about real issues, but yet here he is starring in a horror movie. If only more stars followed his lead. We could have even more weird looking horror movies like this one. The world would be a better place for it.
-The Boondocks Season 4: This final and Aaron McGruder-less season of the awesome cartoon The Boondocks has been rather hit-and-miss, but it still looks great and is genuinely funny. Does anyone know why McGruder decided not to be involved in season 4? Was it his decision or was he forced out? Did I miss something?
-Mama's Family The Complete Fourth Season: This was a great sitcom back in the day, one of the very few original syndicated sitcoms. It was always goofy and funny and ridiculous. Vicki Lawrence was brilliant on the show as Mama, and Ken Berry was always fun to watch. And who could forget Allan Kayser's dumbass Bubba or Beverly Archer's Iola? Is this show still on CMT? I used to watch it all of the time when it was on TBS at 5am.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
-Louie Season 4 thoughts: It's kind of hard to believe that the long delayed fourth season of the Louis C.K. comedy Louie is already over, but then that's what happens when you have a show that's only fourteen episodes long and you run two new episodes every week. It started out strong and then trailed off a bit, but then the show came roaring back with a three part story that will probably cause quite a bit of discussion over the summer (just what the heck was Louie doing to Pam in his apartment?).
The best episode of the season was probably "So Did the Fat Lady," the one where Louie is chased by a funny fat chick played by Sarah Baker. Baker's speech about being fat at the end was one of the best bits of dialogue in the history of the show. It's just too bad Baker's Vanessa didn't come back in a later episode. I wouldn't mind seeing Vanessa come and be one of Louie's friends (she would fit right in with the comedian poker game scenes. Vanessa isn't a comedian but she talks like one, and I would love to see her spar with the others). The first episode of the season, the one where Louie hurts his back, was also quite good. Charles Grodin deserves an award for that episode (he's such an asshole but you love him anyway).
The six part "Elevator" story, where Louie goes out with Amia (Eszter Balint), his Hungarian neighbor that doesn't speak English, was okay but went on way too long. I did like how that story wrapped up, though, with Louie having to save his ex-wife and his daughters during the hurricane. Those fake newscasts were hilarious, and the bit where Louie walks into the Hertz rental car place in the middle of the storm is how you do product placement. I really thought we'd see more about Jane's ongoing mental issues, but perhaps Louis is saving that for the next season. I did love the scene, right in the middle of Louie freaking out over Jane stepping off the subway car, where the woman tells Louie not to swear in front of his other daughter. "Shit," indeed.
The big "extended episode" where we see Louie as a kid smoking pot was weird because, at least to me, it played as both a movie and a sort of backdoor pilot for a show about Louie as a kid. I doubt that would ever happen (how would C.K. find the time to do both that show and his current show?) but it would be interesting to see more of Louie as a stupid kid. Everyone raved about Jeremy Renner's performance as the drug dealer that Louie sort of befriends, but I thought Skip Sudduth was the best part of that story. His easy going science teacher Mr. Hoffman was, in one sense, the kind of teacher every kid wants (he does fun stuff in class all of the time. I mean, he measures farts and stuff. Who wouldn't want to do stuff like that in their science class?) but, at the same time, he's a deeply flawed person with disturbing prejudices about his students. That scene where Hoffman and Louie are in the principal's office and Hoffman is offended that anyone would accuse the "sensitive" Louie of being a thief and a drug addict was hilarious and sad. Why would any teacher deliberately write off any student? And think about what Hoffman was likely feeling when, at the end of the episode Louie fesses up about what he really did. Do you think Hoffman wanted to scream out in anger or walk into his bedroom and cry?
Now, the "Pamela" arc is probably going to be the thing we'll all be talking about over the summer and in the eventual run-up to season five. Why will we be talking about it? Because no one seems to know what the heck C.K. was doing when he had Louie "attempt to rape" Pam. Was C.K. using his show to talk about rape in general in society, or was he doing something else with it? At the moment I can see all sides to the discussion. Pam said no, Louie didn't immediately back off, and the whole encounter was weird and disturbing. That is, by textbook definition, attempted rape. However, I can see where, if you want to "put the story in context," what Louie really did was "misread a signal" he thought Pam was giving off, he acted on it, and the whole thing ended terribly. Even at the end Louie had no idea what he did, was clueless about it (he did the whole fist pump thing after Pam left his apartment. Why the hell would he do that?). I mean, yes, Pam's "You can't even rape right!" line sort of hits the nail on the head in terms of what we're seeing, but it also comes off as the kind of completely inappropriate and weird thing Pam would say in the heat of the moment while standing in line for the movies. Plenty of commentators have said that the sequence is yet another part of C.K.'s "life is messy" thing that runs throughout the season and the show as a whole. I can buy that. I'm surprised that C.K. hasn't been hounded by entertainment interviewers and whatnot about it. I doubt it will be a topic of discussion the next time he's on Conan.
So what happens next? Where is Pam going to take Louie? She got rid of his furniture, made him get in the tub, made him take his shirt off in front of her. Is she going to take him on a weird vacation? Is she going to ask him to help her become a comedian? Will they get married? Will she end up joining him on another "bang-bang" food gorge session?
I wish season 5 was only a few weeks away. I don't think I can wait another year.
Oh, and I would have gone out with Vanessa. What the heck was "yuck" about her?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Eiza Gonzalez
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
-The Larry Sanders Show Seasons 1 & 2: The fine folks at Mill Creek Home Entertainment are behind this particular release, so there probably won't be any special features for either season. But, hey, the show is, was, and always will be brilliant and funny, and that's all you really need anyway. "Out of the Loop" is probably my favorite "Larry" episode of all time, and it's on this set. Very cool indeed.
-Legend of Six Fingers: The wonderful Debbie Rochon and awesome Lynn Lowry appear in this low budget sort of "found footage" horror flick, which appears to be a riff on the Bigfoot myth. It looks pretty dang cool, and that's big praise from me, a person that isn't all that into the whole "found footage" thing.
-The Dependables: This action-comedy looks ridiculous, but then I'm always in the mood for a Bo Svenson performance, so what the heck? And with Lou Gossett, Jr, Margot Kidder, and Seymour Cassel in it, the movie suddenly becomes more necessary to check out. I would like to know why the movie's title was changed from Pride of Lions to The Dependables? Was it to sort of piggyback on the expected success of the upcoming The Expendables 3?
-The Coed and the Zombie Stoner: This low budget comedy comes to us from the fine folks at The Asylum. I just hope that it's as funny as the title, the trailer, and the general idea would suggest. I mean, how can you watch the trailer below and not laugh?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the ultra-right wing media machine, for deciding that the capture of Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khatallah was no big deal and ultimately part of a wider cover-up and conspiracy by President Obama.
Well, obviously. The incompetent, stupid, weak, and naïve community organizer managed to pull off a major, secret military operation right in the middle of a hostile area just because he wanted the "liberal" media to congratulate him and so Hillary Clinton wouldn't have to answer any more "Benghazi" questions on her book tour. I mean, how could it be anything else but that?
The machine will never stop talking about "Benghazi." It's just too important to give up. The mid-term elections are in November and the machine has to win.
Think about what will happen if Ahmed Abu Khatallah gives up his partners in crime and they're captured, too. How many of them will be "just random people swept up in a dragnet" or "actors, not even real terrorists?"
And then there's the "liberal" media, for allowing the architects of the Iraq invasion/disaster to go on TV and criticize President Obama for the soon-to-be civil war in Iraq as if he's actually responsible for it. Are you people fucking shitting me? Why would you allow Paul Wolfowitz or Viceroy Paul "Bremmer Walls" Bremmer on your shows without screaming at them that they're fucking responsible for this shit? Why are you treating these motherfuckers as seasoned experts on the Middle East who know what they're talking about? The only thing these people know how to do is fuck everything up, walk away, and then blame everyone but themselves for that fuck up. Why hasn't anyone brought that shit up? Why are Megyn Kelly and Bill fucking O'Reilly the only people to bring any of this shit up?
Oh, I forgot, that would be partisanship, and who wants that? That's so gay.
The "liberal" media is a myth.
And finally there's the WWE, for having Stephanie McMahon vomit on Vickie Guerrero last Monday night on Raw. Why did Vince McMahon think it was a good idea to have his daughter shoot fake vomit on Vickie Guerrero? Was it supposed to be funny? It wasn't. It was too much.
Now, had Stephanie barfed a little on Vickie's jacket or on Vickie's hand or a little on Vickie's shoes, fine, that would have been okay (it would have been gross but okay). But the geyser of puke that shot out at Vickie was just stupid.
Again, why did Vince think it was a good idea? Anyone have any insight on this? Anyone at all?
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts will return next issue. Did you see the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma? The Nationwide Series at Road America? Was it good stuff? Bad stuff?
** The Second Big Question: Who is cooler: Bub or the Tarman?
When it comes to American zombie movies from the 1980's, George A. Romero's Day of the Dead and Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead are at the top of the heap. Well made, expertly directed, and gory as hell, both zombie flicks are a pleasure to watch even though they're both very different movies. Romero's flick is a relentlessly grim examination of a group of people who simply can't get along despite the fact the world is falling down around them, while O'Bannon's movie is more of a straight-up scare show chock full of dark humor (it's almost a parody of the zombie movie genre up until that time). You can summarize each movie by its featured zombie.
In Day, the big zombie is Bub (Howard Sherman), a zombie that has become, for the lack of a better term, domesticated by Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty). Bub still has zombie urges, but he doesn't appear to be all consumed by them. He sort of likes hanging around Dr. Logan and is interested in exploring the world around him. Bub also knows how to listen to music, salute, and cock and fire a handgun. He's the ultimate sad presence on screen.
Return's big zombie is the Tarman (Allan Trautman), a grotesque monster that is a pile of slick, slinky bones that just won't stop attacking. It doesn't look like it should be able to move but it goddamn does and you don't want to get in its way. The Tarman also knows how to use a chain and pulley to rip a door off its hinges. You can't even hide from the damn thing.
Based on the above descriptions it's pretty obvious which one is more dangerous (Tarman). However, which one is cooler? Which zombie would you rather watch again and again? Which zombie would you rather have depicted on your T-shirt?
I am a total Romero nerd. I love Sherman's performance as Bub and think Bub is one of the greatest overall characters in both zombie movie history and horror movie history in general. Bub's face would be awesome on a T-shirt. So my vote would be for Bub. But the Tarman is pretty dang cool, too. Why wouldn't I want to wear a shirt with Tarman's skull head on it, smiling and screaming out for "Brains!"? I would rather wear the Bub shirt, sure, but wearing a Tarman shirt wouldn't be a step down. They're both pretty dang cool and awesome, with Bub edging Tarman a little bit.
So what do you guys think? Which zombie is cooler: Bub or the Tarman?
On June 30th he returns...
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.
Rob Freeman- Lt. Brian Murphy Prince David Osei- Sgt. Daniel Dembele David Ontoh- The Chief Gaal Hama- Daniel's Son Leela Tall- Daniel's Wife
Directed by Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford Screenplay by Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rated R for gory violence and language Runtime- 105 minutes
Buy it here