THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
David A. Lockhart
What's it about
1849 California: Mortimer is a badass bounty hunter, you know the spaghetti western silent hero type, chasing an Apache warrior when he comes across a gold rush town, where local miners send him into the hills, then they unearth a meteor that mutates the whole town into flesh eating zombies! Once poor Mortimer catches his prey, it becomes a fight for survival in a wild west teeming with zombie mayhem, and haunted by another bounty hunter sinply called The German, and the two enemies are going to have to work together if they are going to make it out alive!
Is it good movie?
Damn. I love genre mash-ups! Two of my favorite genres, Westerns and Zombie Flicks, well, how could I not be excited. The DVD art had me stoked for some hardcore zombie action (I especially loved the Sid Haig looking mofo on the zombie horse...NICE!). With a tagline of "The Legend of the Living Dead", this one was looking better and better. I probably should have skipped the trailer before watching the movie.
While it had its moments, it wasn't all that my imagination had made it out to be. It was a decent enough movie, it's just that some things didn't jive with me on an audience level.
First up, the cinematography on display here is freaking gorgeous. The wide open vistas of the California hills, forests and rivers provided the perfect scenic backdrop to unleash some undead hell. However, it was once the action moved into the small gold rush town that the visual vibe of the flick fell apart. The "western" town was obviously hastily constructed, because you can see the plywood, screws and fresh paint. It really distracted me from the whole suspension of disbelief deal. As well, the costuming was not very authentic, especially that worn by the Apache Brother Wolf (convincingly played by Twilight stock werewolf #1, AKA Rick Mora). Damn, his leathers looked crisp and shiny, just like you'd find in the Halloween costume aisle in Walmart! But set construction and costuming aside, the rest of the flick had a nice western look feel, mixed with heavy doses of gory zombie action and even some moments of actual tension. Of course I'm referring to the sequence where our damsel Rhiannon (played by the attractive and talented Camille Montgomery) is stalked through a dark house by a blind zombie. Loved that part.
But while the Apache and the damsel were both well acted and interesting characters, the hero was not so much. I'm sure David A. Lockhart tried his best with what he was given, but his character, instead of channeling the steely and grim presence of Eastwood, just seemed dense and aloof. He delivered his lines like he was in a badly written comedy skit but was determined to fill it with the emotion and pathos of classical theater. He just rang false to me through the whole movie, which was a sharp contrast to the other two leads, who actually gave some convincing performances despite the flaws in the dialogue and expository writing. And because the lead hero was such a let down, the whole movie suffered in the end, from my humble point of view.
So while it's a good looking movie (some of the zombie effects were very nicely done and appropriately sick), and for the most part the acting was good, the poor scripting, lack of narrative direction and a weak leading man brought the movie down from where it could have been. When I think Zombie Western, I see awesomeness on a scale of epic! But for me, a Western fan and a zombie nut, it was just a pleasantly entertaining movie that won't stand up to repeated viewings.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.77:1). A lot of the shots are gorgeous to look at, despite the flaws in costuming and sets. It's the nature here that steals the show folks.
Audio: Dolby Stereo 2.0. The movie sounds good for the most part. Loved the soundtrack.
Just the extended Trailer.
Despite some gorgeous cinematography, good acting and excellent zombie gore, the movie was hampered by poor set design, costuming that looked too modern, badly written dialogue, a story that never really capitalized on either genre fully, and a poor performance from the hero. I wanted to love this movie, but instead I ended up just liking it. I appreciate the effort and talent that went into the parts that worked, but some of it I just didn't buy into. Even a harrowing and tense blind zombie sequence didn't elevate the movie beyond the standard B grade zombie flick. And it's too bad, because the parts were here for something epic, not just an entertaining and sometimes hilarious way to spend an evening.