Directed by: Brett Pierce
Produced by: Andy Drummond
Drew T. Pierce
Kevin Van Hagen
Screenplay by: Brett Pierce
Drew T. Pierce
Starring: Michael McKiddy
Music by: Devin Burrows
Cinematography by: Robert Toth
Editing by: Kevin O'Brien
Studio: FroBro Films
Distributed by: Splendid Film
Release date(s): April 2, 2011 (United States)
2012 (United Kingdom - Straight-To-DVD)
Running time: 96 minutes
Country: United States
Production budget: (Unavailable)
Box office revenue: (Likewise)
"Free from fucking bondage," as the great John Hurt would say in 44-Inch Chest! My Nietzsche essay has now been submitted, so it's out of my hands, and thus the bane of my present existence is gone. Hallujuah (I did that on purpose, you spelling-bee bellends!)! So, even though I have other essays to be getting on with, I'm through the toughest part, and I imagine that given the current climate in films, what with awards season round the corner, I've got some reviewing to be catching up with. I've got reviews for six more movies (including this one) for November, which will be followed by a review of the month, and I imagine I'll be flying through this, so, follow me on an unexpected journey through the good, the bad, and the ugly, as I try my earnest to give you the latest reviews: something to keep your eyes posted methinks! (Incidentally, I'll be getting through this quick enough: I've got a packet of Domestead Homebakes Butter Shortbread beside me: win!)
Today's movie for review is Dead Heads, which is one of the numerous takes (Cockneys Vs Zombies, Juan Of The Dead, Osombie) on the zombie-comedy genre to be released this year. The niche that this movie has is that the central characters of the film are themselves zombies. Discovering an engagement ring due for his girlfriend in his pocket, the recently-undead Mike (Michael McKiddy) enlists the help of a fellow zombie, Brent (Ross Kidder), and Brent's pet zombie friend Cheese (Markus Taylor), so he can go on a road trip across the country and reunite with his lost love. Some decent reviews from Screen Jammer, Alan Jones (who I think must have been misquoted, because I can't imagine someone righting such a poxy line as "DeadHeads is dead good!") and a ringing endorsement from the mighty Bruce Campbell, who said "In a world of putrid zombie movies, DeadHeads is a breath of fresh air," would lead one to believe they were in for a decent time. Shall we take a look?
Right, so we'll (as ever!) start with the good. The film is written and directed by the Pierce brothers, whose father Bart Pierce was the SFX guy on The Evil Dead, so not only do they have the experience of growing up around horror films, they also have a wealth of knowledge that they have developed on the genre over the years. As such, from the directing standpoint they get through the movie pretty efficiently, and keep a relative sense of pace to the movie. Also, the script has some great dialogue that is full of wit and those little references that horror geeks and myself will eat up. Many of the best lines come from McDinkle, one of the two government guys chasing him, whose delivery of the dialogue, mixed in with his Lemmy facial hair, makes for some amusing scenes. Also, the character of Cheese, who is essentially the pet/infant-child of the odd couple that Mike and Brent make, is pretty good. I'd be lying if I said the film didn't give me a few laughs.
Equally, I'd be lying if I said that DeadHeads was a good movie, but it most certainly isn't! For starters, aside from the dialogue, which is at times very funny, it's a shoddy script. Structurally, it's so murder-by-numbers that you could literally lift the template and apply it to ten other dull movies, which may, incidentally, still be better than DeadHeads. It defies logic just how lazy the screenplay is. I mean, c'mon, did they really think they could get away with this hogwash? I'll deal with the usual scapegoat while I'm at it, okay, the film has a rubbish score that tells the audience "Hey, look, funny, funny, ha ha, ha ha," no, end of, zzzzzzzz! Also, like the film from earlier on in the year Dragon Eyes (a decent martial arts/exploitation flick), it has that really terrible grimy look that happens with digital video. It looks okay during the day with high lighting, but much of the stuff in the film occurs at night or in shadows, and so it has a strangely ridiculous (and not in a good way) of looking on the one hand like the set of Edward Scissorhands while on the other it looks like sewer scenes from Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, which still stands to this day as one of the worst shot films of all time! The acting too was not anything of real worth. Michael McKiddy has all the look of an Ed Helms, but with none of the animation, stonewalling his way through the movie, being an incredibly boring dullard of a protagonist. Also, I don't think Ross Kidder funny guy Brent works as a fail to McKiddy's straight guy, and there is a distinct lack of chemistry between the two. Just because the guys might get on well on set doesn't necessarily mean they're good at pretending they are buddies in a movie! A final related point to mention, I do not drive, and so my grandmother was giving me a lift to the bank the day I was reviewing this movie, which is ninety-six minutes long. Nine minutes from the climax, my grandmother arrived early, and I left the movie for an hour-and-a-half. Normally, I'm a purist who will sit through a movie in one sitting, but I was just so disinterested by the movie that I didn't care about anything that was going to happen.
Perhaps I'm going to be a bit too generous about DeadHeads here. I'm a guy who loves horror films, exploitation flicks and zombie movies. The high watermark for this zombie-comedy subgenre is Shaun Of The Dead, but you can even find it's origins in George Romero's timeless classic Dawn Of The Dead, which was itself a dark satire that has far more humour in it than much of his oeuvre, which if comic is often of the black variety. While I think the Pierce brothers have their hearts in the right place, and clearly love and respect the history of the zombie film, DeadHeads has none of the ingenuity of either of those two films. Unfortunately, it's a dullard of a movie that comes across as low-rent Zombieland, which wasn't a great movie in itself. Disappointing and tiresome.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 3.2/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Mulled (beer, crisps and movies: man I love Friday nights!)