Sunday, March 20, 2011

Horror Film Review

Dead Men Walking (2005):  Zombie flick!  I guess the title sort of gives that away.  Clever wordplay on the Oscar-winning Dead Man Walking, eh?  Reminds me of some other clever movie titles, like Forrest Hump.  No, Dead Men Walking isn't a porno, but after a few minutes, you may wish it was.

To be fair, this isn't a bad movie...well, okay, it is a bad movie.  But it's a bad zombie movie, so you must take it with a grain or two (maybe a pound) of salt.  Acting is secondary to action, and story secondary to the gory.  Here's the question:  if you turn off a part of your brain, and kind of enter a fugue state, is it entertaining on a purely teenage boy level?  Um...

A bio-tech worker (Brandon Stacy) accidentally infects his friends with some experimental toxin, blows said friends away with a shotgun, and is arrested for murder.  Although not before he gets bitten and infected himself.  The CDC knew about it but figured since the guy was going to a maximum security prison, everything would be fine.  Remember, stay in that fugue state.  CDC investigator Samantha Beckett (Bay Bruner) shows up at the prison after the infection has already spread and she's stuck inside when it goes into lockdown.  Other main characters also stuck are the warden (Bobby James) and his son, tyrannical head security guard Sweeny (Chriss Anglin), and cat-burgler inmate Johnny (Griff Furst) who's just good looking enough to become the potential love interest for Beckett (yawn). 

If I hadn't turned part of my brain off, I'd have noticed a few every inmate is dressed in blue hospital scrubs instead of prisoner garb, the actors fake gun recoils, the mess hall is about the size of my living room, etc.  What the filmmakers saved by scrimping on these details, they spent on the gore and zombie makeup.  The 14 year-old in me rejoiced.  I should mention that this is the first zombie flick I've seen where the unwritten rule of not killing kids is gleefully ignored.  We're treated to the evisceration and eating of a boy and a girl, around eight or nine years-old.  Just the two, though.  I suppose that's enough.


Acting:  Not embarrassing but a hair's-breadth from groan-inducing.  Beckett and Anglin are pretty bad, but James and Furst sort of balance it out by not sucking.
Story:  Irrelevant.  It's zombies.
Direction:  It was like director Peter Mervis was trying to thread a needle with a sledge hammer.  Not exactly what you'd call subtle.
Production Values:  I think the prison was a condemned warehouse, if that gives you an idea.  I will award points for the movie being shot on film instead of video, grainy as it is. 
Gore/FX:  Oh, yes.  The blood and guts level is turned up to 11.  A warning, though.  There's a lot of really gross puking.  And I mean a lot. 
Ending:  Think Night of the Living Dead.  For once, I didn't mind.
Verdict:  Should you watch Dead Men Walking?  Only, and I mean only if you're a serious zombie movie fan.  And have the ability to devolve into a 14 year-old boy.

My Rating:  2 out of 5

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