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RETARDEAD
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Reviewed by: Zombie Boy

Directed by: Rick Popko, Dan West

Starring:
Paul Weiner
Beth West
Dan Burr

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
In the sleepy town of Butte County, only one day after defeating the nefarious Dr. Stern’s poop monster, well-endowed Sheriff Duncan and his two inept deputies must once again team up with FBI agent Clarice Starling, um, I mean Susan Hannigan, to fend off an entire town full of the reanimated, retarded dead. Thrills! Chills! Red Corn Syrup and Rubber Guts, Oh My!
Is it good movie?
After the events of Monsturd, of which Retardead is a sequel, the presumed dead Dr. Stern assumes the hilarious alias of Dr. Feldman and connives his way into a position as a teacher at a special education school, with intentions of testing out his controversial Algernon-9 serum (the name of which I assume to be a literary reference to both Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle), designed to elevate the intelligence of its subjects…but which, of course, turns them into undead cannibals. It is once again up to Sheriff Duncan and the drunk and stupid deputies Rick and Dan to save the day (there is also the FBI agent, who is a sort of underwritten role, one of my few actual complaints about the film).

Retardead had me right from the packaging: designed to look like an EC horror comic with less class, I was smiling even before I opened the case to discover a complimentary copy of the film’s soundtrack (but no barf bag, deep sigh). This is a film that wears its conceits on its sleeve, leaves no guessing room as to what you can expect when you press play. Yet somehow still manages to be surprising. You see, the acting, scope, effects, and production values are better than they have any right to be. In fact, I was almost upset that it wasn’t crappier. Which sounds ridiculous if you don’t know what a connoisseur of trailer trash entertainment I am. Hell, there is even a funny and unexpected twist at the end.

The film is also chocked full of many more homages than just the Algernon-9 bit. From subtle ones like the framed, autographed photo of Ken Foree on the wall in the sheriff’s office (the zombies in Retardead are heavily influenced by the works of Romero) to more overt gags like a Pulp Fiction face splattering after a zombie is dispatched with a bullet to his computer in the backseat of a police jeep, co-writers/directors/producers/stars Rick Popko and Dan West are obviously hardcore movie geeks. In fact, the current generation of genre filmmakers is so immersed in the culture of old that we have inadvertently entered a sort of meta-cinema era, when a film such as Retardead bears more in common with the rapid fire reference-conscious nature of Shaun of the Dead than its more direct role model Dawn of the Dead. Not that I’m complaining.

Be on the lookout for a delicious cameo from Jello Biafra (who looks more and more like Robert Z’Dar every day) and be on the listen-out for some narration by the man himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Oh, and a really funny bit from legendary director Mark Pirro (Polish Vampire in Brooklyn and Nudist Colony of the Dead, for the neophytes).
Video / Audio
Video: Fullscreen, shot on video. Actually looks really good.

Audio: There is no specificaton on the audio, other than that it is in English, which I already knew. Other than the scene in Dr. Stern's secret lair, when the audio is in the toilet, it sounds pretty good.
The Extras
Gag Reel/Deleted Scenes: this is exactly what it sounds like: about 20-minutes of really funny outtakes and trimmed footage. Two highlights include West and Popko having a slap-fight that turns all too real, and actress Maria Halyna finally getting fed up with West’s direction and declaring that shaking the fake baby whose neck she was biting into so that it wriggled like a fish, thus imparting the verisimilitude of life, was just “too weird”.

Special Make-Up Effects: Once again, no ambiguity. 7-minutes of really interesting FX footage. Highlights include watching the traditional man in a hole getting his intestine ripped out gag being set-up, and footage of the Living Dead Girlz having their excellent make-up being applied. FX artist Ed Martinez really brought home the bacon on a low-budget. Spouting blood, melting faces, severing arms, even a great head-cast were performed with skill and enthusiasm from all involved.
Last Call
Dawn of the Dead as directed by John Waters from a script by an alternate-universe Ted Tally, Retardead is funny and gory without needing to go over the top in an attempt to pander to the gross-out demographic, and is respectful to its predecessors and role models, even if it is to nothing else. Even though it occasional overshoots at concepts underwritten, and with the inherent pacing problems of low-budget features, Retardead is still very enjoyable and a cut above similar fare. The film is a bit short, but luckily the running time is padded out with a hilarious drive-in concessions short parody, and some spot-on fake 70’s-era Eurotrash horror trailers. Just a good package all the way around.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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