Early in the festival promos were run for the first zombie feature playing on Sunday. In the Kevin Tenney's Brain Dead trailer it seemed that they were giving away decent kill shots. A lot of them. Then you get that sickly feeling that you’ve seen just about all that the movie has to offer. Or, the trailer was just cleverer than we were giving credit for and the production team couldn’t possibly give away everything! Could they? Well, the audience was hooked and with the promise of filling a theatre with a zombie horde the marketing was in full swing and you could get away with showing pretty much anything. Yep, you could scrape the bottom of the zombie barrel and feast on our brains.
An alien parasite falls to earth, straight into the forehead of an unassuming fisherman. This parasite immediately takes over its host and then begins to devour the brains of his fishing buddy and the zombie rampage begins. Clarence and Bob have just escaped the law and are holed up in a ramshackle fishing lodge. Soon they are joined by Sherry [call me!] and Claudia, two sorority sisters lost and separated from their hiking group. The last pair to join the group is Reverend Farnsworth and his titular secretary, Amy. Once the sextet is inside a couple zombies show up at the door and they are not looking to add to their numbers.
If you ever happen to come across this movie by accident I will promise you three things. There will be blood, boobs and bodily harm. Sure, the bodily harm may be of the self induced kind as you slap yourself in the forehead repeatedly for watching for this turd. But, other than your own self inflicted wounding any zombie movie needs to have violence and Kevin Tenney's Brain Dead has just that. And as we feared most of it was shown in the trailer. Whee! Blood, yes there is blood, and there is enough of it to satisfy. The effects are almost all practical and explosive. I appreciate explosive and practical effects rather than relying on CG because it works to no one’s benefit on a budget this minuscule. Boobs, oh yes, there are boobs. Of the five actresses on the bill four of them show off their wares. The other character is such a tart you can just assume that she is showing off her tits somewhere else, likely in a bathroom stall at the local drinking hole. So yeah, hooray for boobies!
So what’s left that I could possibly pick on? I’ve covered the three basic necessities of a genre film: Sex, Violence and Lubrication. All three of those things are good and fine in their own right. It’s just that when you put them together in a movie with a script as daft as this, full of plot holes and mind numbing silliness, there are just as much groans for that as there are for head explosions. I understand this is not high art, this isn’t even tack it up on the fridge with a magnet art, but at what point do you draw the line? When the same joke about the rundown fishing shack being a ‘real fixer-upper’ is uttered by each group as they come up to it, that’s three times for those keeping count at home, and that is done one right after the other, that’s not funny. That’s just plain lazy! And the parasite/host exposition by the girls partway through is just laughable. It turned the tone of the film on its head and stalled out for those brief minutes. As if we were so numb that we were stirred by our slumber and had to be reminded what had happened to this point. There was not need for it really. Silly and needless. Really, who the hell cares how it happened, if this guys wants to eat my brains I am not going to be concerned with how he came about his infliction and focus more on saving my own ass. Zombies be damned. And apparently intelligence be damned too. Clarence’s shtick as the zinger guy grew old very fast. It was all he did. As Andrew from rowthree.com said to me afterwards, he’s like Sawyer from LOST. Always has something to say. Always a zinger. Hey, some of them worked, but you don’t keep tossing up hand grenades hoping just some of them are going to go off.
Yep. Felt like we scraped the bottom of the zombie barrel with this one.