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Dead and Deader
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.