Flick through the catalog of Mindfire Entertainment releases and you probably wouldn't find too many reasons to get excited for their next movies. House of the Dead, The Darkroom, Room 6 are what you'd find there, genre flicks either seriously awful or instantly forgettable. But riter/producer Mark Altman clearly loves the low-budget horror vibe, and with each new flick I walk in intent on giving the guy a fair shake. Having said that, I'm happy to announce that Mindfire and Altman's Dead and Deader is ... quite a bit more entertaining than those other movies. These guys are still in search of their first "good flick," but this latest zombie-fest does, at the very least, move at a brisk pace, exhibits a goofy sense of humor, and delivers on the gore goods.
That's not to say you won't find a few atrocious performances and howlingly bad lines of dialogue sprinkled (quite liberally) throughout Dead and Deader -- but the Mindfire guys have latched on to an entertaining concept and hired a half-decent cast this time around. (One gets the impression that Dead and Deader was sold as both a cable flick AND a potential pilot for a TV series. You'll see why in Act III.)
Anyway, the plot is pretty much stolen from the 1988 Treat Williams zombedy Dead Heat, only it's been upgraded from a cop movie to a military flick. Former Superman Dean Cain plays a dead soldier who, after waking up on the coroner's slab, realizes he's undead and must somehow stop the evil villains from infecting the whole town with his noxious zombie-gas. Along the way he meets up with a smart-mouthed sidekick (Guy Torry) and a hot ... film student (Susan Ward) -- and it's this trio that hopes to save the world from death by zombiedom.
Dead and Deader is a really silly movie, one packed with brain-dead cliches and outlandishly predictable contrivances. But for fans of the genre (and the zombie sub-genre, obviously), there's enough fun stuff to get behind: The one-liners are never actually funny, but you'll appreciate the effort; the zombie attacks are fairly frequent and enjoyably goopy; and even when the movie's being unintentionally funny, it's quick and colorful enough to provide an 85-minute distraction. Call it C-level horror fluff if you like, but at least it moves quick and has lots of (obvious) in-jokes for the horror nerds. Like me.
Video: It's a rather solid anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer, especially for a flick produced for the Sci-Fi Channel.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0. Perfectly loud and juicy when the action calls for it. Optional subtitles are available in English.
Extras: There's a 35-minute "making of" mini-doc that should prove thrilling to anyone who enjoyed the flick just a little more than I did. Numerous cast and crew members sit down and talk about the project, some of whom approach Dead and Deader with the appropriate amount of jocularity -- and some of whom laud the project just a bit too heavily.
There's also an audio commentary with writer Steve Krizere, writer/producer Mark Altman, and composer Joe Kraemer (which is alternately self-congratulatory, self-deprecating, and surprisingly informative), a stills gallery, several Anchor Bay trailers, and a screenplay in DVD-ROM form ... in case you ever need to read the Dead and Deader screenplay.
It's nothing but a low-budget, tongue-in-cheek mixture of Blade, 48 HRS., 28 Days Later, and any "angry commando" action flick you can imagine -- but it's also kinda fun, too. Rent It before you buy it if you're a hardcore genre freak. Avoid it entirely if you're not.