Stop me when this sounds familiar: There's this rich amazingly rich jerk who treats people like dog poop. He has a beautiful wife and a lawyer / best friend, both of whom he abuses whenever possible. (Oh, and they're sleeping together.) The lawyer and the wife hatch a plan to kill the bastard millionaire, only it doesn't really work out -- and hubby comes back looking for hardcore revenge.
Sort of a semi-Saw exterior wrapped around an especially boring episode of The Outer Limits is little more than an age-old murder story that's been sprinkled with some nasty torture scenes at the beginning and the end. Because torture is what the genre fans want these days, right? And if the nasty stuff happens to bookend one of the silliest and hoariest old conceits ever written, meh, what's it matter? We can still throw a garish DVD cover on the thing and sell it as an actual horror flick.
And despite that entire rant, I'd say Living Death is actually kind of watchable. In many respects it's a pretty bad movie (the screenplay is rote and obvious, most of the actors seem bored or confused, and even at a scant 84 minutes the flick manages to really drag in the middle), but it also goes down pretty smoothly and offers a few chuckles along the way ... some of which are intentional; others not so much.
The only cast member you'd recognize is Kristy Swanson, the one-time Buffy who now seems trapped in B-movie purgatory. Let's just say we've seen better performances from Ms. Swanson in the past and leave it at that. The best work in the flick comes from Greg Bryk as the enjoyably scummy rich-boy Victor. As the adulterous lawyer, Josh Peace does a decent job of being suitably lawyer-ish.
But therein lies one of the problems with Living Death: The main character is a drop-dead asshole, and the two others are also pretty detestable! So what's a viewer to do? Root for the bastard to get his revenge, or pull for the two cheaters to off the big jerk? And once the flick settles in to its third-act series of (rather arbitrary) murders, you'll start to realize that the first two acts were just filler material. So while there's some half-decent dispatches (and a few admirable doses of goopy gore), it seems that the movie's payoff simply wasn't worth the time it took to get there.
Not a totally rotten Canadian indie, but a little too dry, predictable and beholden to earlier works to generate much excitement. Plus it takes way too long to get rolling.
Audio/Video: The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer is pretty solid for a low-budget release. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, which does the job well enough.
Extras: There's a 20-minute behind the scenes featurette that offers some cast/crew interviews, but not a whole lot beyod that. (Still, not a bad inclusion.) You'll also find some trailers for Living Death, Warriors of Terra, UKM: The Ultimate Killing Machine, Troubled Waters, and Dead Mary.
Living Death markets itself like a Saw wannabe, and it does get a little nasty in its final frames, but for the most part the flick is a very familiar tale of meanness, adultery, and revenge.