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cast: Joshua Benton, Sarah Grant Brendecke, David Crane, Andy Forrest, and Cristina Tiberia
director: Kevin S. Tenney
90 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 16:9
Eureka / ISIS DVD Region 2
review by Matthew S. Dent
There are, simplistically speaking, two paths that horror films choose to take: the serious and the comedic. It's a risky decision to make. If a
film takes the serious route and gets it wrong, it can end up as an unintentional source of amusement. On the other hand, if it tries to be a
comedy and isn't funny, it just looks like a bad film. Either way lies potential peril.
Brain Dead definitely goes for the comedic route. It features a group of six mismatched characters who end up trapped in a cabin in the
middle of nowhere, being attacked by zombies infected by alien amoebas. A definite comedy.. The sheer oddity of the plot combines with the low-budget
gore effects to create something strangely reminiscent of certain 1980s' horror films.
Which might be a compliment, on its own, but the gore isn't the only thing that seems cheap. The writing seems to have been done by a team of high
school students, with little to no experience of writing bearable dialogue. The story is utterly mad, but that, in itself; wouldn't be its downfall.
What consigns it to horror film hell, for me, is the fact that by about 15 minutes in I've seen all of the female characters at least partially naked.
Ah that old ploy of masking a lack of writing talent with sex and nudity.
Not that it's necessarily just the writing that it's intended to mask. The acting isn't anything to write home about really. The main cast seem
inexperienced and poorly written lines are woodenly delivered, with little in the way of feeling or confidence. The characters never rise beyond
cardboard cut-outs: the hard-as-nails career felon, the morally-bankrupt preacher, the man-hating lesbian sorority sister, and the sarcastic witty
(well, I assume that's what they were going for) main character. Add in the ignorant sheriff and deputies named Jimmy-something and you have less
a cohesive story and more a collection of rather tiresome clich�s and stereotypes.
Brain Dead's one saving grace is probably the aforementioned gore. Despite the lack of money spent on the effects, their liberal (splattered
sums it up best, I think) application gives an impression that it might all be one big joke. I mean, it features one minor character's head being
split in half lengthways, and another having a hole punched through her face. That can't be intended as being serious, surely?
But there's an underlying doubt niggling at me that it actually is trying to be serious. In particular, the 45-minute long, self-aggrandising
behind-the-scenes featurette (is it still a 'featurette' when it's half the length of the feature?) evidences this. I'll admit I didn't sit through
all of it. Twenty minutes of location scouting, uninspired casting tapes inter-cut with footage from the film, and other boredom was quite enough
So in the end, this film didn't do it for me. It felt poorly put together, with little sense of what it wanted to be, and tried to paper over the
cracks with pointless nudity. Bad writing, bad acting, bad filming; the whole thing felt like the set up for a porn film.