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THE DEAD
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: The Ford Brothers

Starring:
Rob Freeman
Prince David Osei

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
An America trying to escape the zombie-infected continent of Africa is left behind to fend for himself. He comes across a soldier looking for his son and the two form a union, taking on the zombie world together in a beat-up pick-up truck. It's kill or be killed in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
Is it good movie?
Growing up in the 80s in the world of the post-George A. Romero original DEAD trilogy, I had been a huge fan of zombie movies and honestly, I couldnít get enough of them. Finding gems like DEAD ALIVE and watching Romeroís DAWN OF THE DEAD over and over again was one of my favorite past times, and this is the way it was until 2004 when Zack Snyderís superb DAWN OF THE DEAD remake was release, thus opening the hatch for any and every type of zombie movie conceived to be made and released. And nowÖ I donít really like zombie movies. I despise them, actually, as theyíre always a rehash of the one before it, and itís hard to deliver something truly great and original when every other movie is a f*ckiní zombie movie. Which makes me pleased as punch to report that the Ford Brotherís THE DEAD goes above and beyond the zombie norm, delivering something thatís both zombie-tastic and original.

Set in the vast desert landscape of Africa, THE DEAD is a zombie flick thatís more alike Romeroís early DEAD movies than anything thatís been released in the last decade. Not necessarily a zombie movie with an underlying social commentary, but one that treats the zombies in question seriously, and one that handles the genre with a whole new lens. The location has a lot to do with it, as itís not just an overrun city or suburb or mall or backwoods arena, but the village-laced and wildlife-filled Africa, an area thatís rough around the edge, constantly dusty, and the perfect place to depict a zombie apocalypse. Finally, a zombie flick that decides to do something different and set itself apart from the norm!

In many ways, THE DEAD is a zombie road trip movie, where the two main dudes (played by Rob Freeman and Prince David Oseia) are like nomads traveling across the dusty countryside in the one of the only working motor vehicles in Africa. But donít expect laughs or hijinks here, as every interaction with the zombies is gritty and filled with devastation. The zombie epidemic isnít a gag or an excuse for extreme gore as it is in many zombie flicks, but one thatís treated like an epidemic thatís slowly destroying the continent of Africa one villager at a time. And itís this handling of the zombies that makes THE DEAD such a refreshing take on the genre and why I broke my general rule about not liking zombie movies and really liking this one.

However, the flick isnít flawless, and while thereís a lot going right with it there are a few things that fall short--mostly the performance of Freeman. Some scenes Freeman delivers his lines with believability and talent, and other scenes he canít act to save his life. Itís a real mixed bag here, and probably the only complaint I have for the entire flickóthe lead should have gone to somebody who was more likable, talented, charismatic, and all-around more hero-like than what we have with Freeman, who is (more or less) none of the above. Hell, even Prince Oseia did a better job in the acting department than Freeman did, and heís a Prince!

The filmís momentum slows down towards the end with the whole last act going nowhere fast, like they lost the vision of what they were aiming for with 20 minutes left to go. Iím not saying that nothing happens as it nears the end, but it slightly loses its wayÖ if only a little bit.

Freeman and momentum aside, the gritty cinematography, the dramatic music, the zombie special effects, and the whole devastated atmosphere all add to making THE DEAD more than just your average zombie flick, but one that goes above and beyond the zombie status quo, and delivers something that will be remembered for years to come. And while itís not a perfect movie, itís still damn entertaining and it deserves serious props for stepping outside the box. I mean, a zombie movie set in Africaís outback? Whatís not to like?

Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1), looking as crisp and clear as you can get on DVD.

Audio: Dolby Digital surround sound mixed in 5.1 stereo, rockin' the cool soundtrack, the zombie groans, and all those gunshots / blood splatter.

The Extras
Commentary with the Ford Brothers: Listen to the directing duo chat about the trials, tribulations, and the whole crazy experience of filming a movie on location in Africa.

The Dead: Behind the Scenes: A montage of behind the scenes footage with the film's musical score playing in the background. Since it's all shot on location in Africa, it becomes quite apparent how down and dirty the filming process was. Some behind the scenes footage is transposed with the final scene playing along side-by-side, which is kind of cool. I prefer a little more structure to my behind the scenes featurettes, but as it's as rogue as the film itself (and only about 5 minutes long), I'll give this one a pass.

Deleted Scene: A lone scene featuring Freeman coming across another American doctor helping the locals. It's mostly throwaway and features no action, but it does offer an explanation as to what the zombie virus is and how to stop it.

Last Call
With zombie flicks a dime a dozen these days, they all seem to blend together into a whole mess of 'blah', making it a refreshingly change of pace to stumble across a zombie flick that's fun, gritty, and best of all, original. Blended with superior sound, picture quality, and a standard set of special features, THE DEAD is a zombie film with bite that's worth a look.
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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