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THE MAD
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Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton

Directed by: Johnny Kalangis

Starring:
Billy Zane
Maggie Castle
Evan Charles Flock

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A former musician turned doctor (Billy Zane) heads to the countryside with his girlfriend, his daughter and her boyfriend for an attempt at a pseudo-family getaway. But a stop at a roadside diner for some nice country cooking turns into a massacre due to a shipment of locally farmed “organic” hamburger that turns out to be tainted. Whoever eats the genetically-altered meat turns into a zombie... or is that a mad cow person?
Is it good movie?
THE MAD is a nice attempt at a horror spoof that unfortunately is either trying too hard or not trying hard enough most of the time. Striking a good balance is key for a genre movie like this, and while THE MAD is sometimes quite funny, the tone and pace waver too much for it to achieve consistent success. There are some great bits in the diner and motel, but afterward the flick cools down, and only occasionally strikes a note of inspiration.

However, having Billy Zane in a movie like this is a real plus. When Zane does comedy, I tend to laugh - even his brief cameo in ZOOLANDER (“Put a cork in it, Zane!”) cracked me up. In THE MAD he plays a quintessential Billy Zane role - the aging hipster who looks like he was rejected from Avril Lavigne’s band. As Dr. Hunt, Zane gets to put his cheeky, deadpan sense of humor to the test, and having him around makes things more enjoyable. The rest of the cast does fine. Maggie Castle believably plays the daughter, and Evan Charles Flock amusingly takes the brunt of any and all mistreatment as the boyfriend-in-tow.

The movie has a few clever and self-aware scenes where the characters discuss if the attackers fit under the category of “zombies”. I wanted more of this. I’m sure THE MAD would like to think of itself as social commentary, but the story isn’t focused enough. The filmmakers return to the back story of the farm where the tainted meat originated in the last 15-20 minutes, but it just seems like they are spinning their wheels to pad the running time. Director John Kalangis seems to have respect for the genre George Romero created. These days however, it’s hard to top a Romero send-up as funny and inspired as SHAUN OF THE DEAD. But THE MAD has its moments.

If you’re looking for something scary, avoid this one. There are some fun splatter effects, but the movie is more concerned with subverting expectations and delivering a goofy comedy. And while there are good efforts made toward creating a quirky spoof (there’s an oddball soundtrack by a band called Half Past Four, some fun casting, and hit-and-miss moments of slapsticky absurdness), it doesn’t come together in any satisfying way.
Video / Audio
Video Widescreen Presentation

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1
The Extras
Behind the Scenes of The Mad Good making-of with interviews with director Kalangis, Zane and other cast.

One Deleted Scene

Original Theatrical Trailer and a Trailer Gallery
Last Call
THE MAD actually made me laugh out loud a few times, but as far as pacing, editing and writing goes, it’s too scattershot to be effective. Still, mad cow disease has never been this funny.
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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