The Dead Pit (1989)

APRIL 27, 2008


Brett Leonard is one of those directors who has somehow made a decent enough name for himself for a bunch of movies that aren’t very good. Lawnmower Man (his director’s cut version, anyway) is probably the only one that’s worth a 2nd view; otherwise if you have missed Hideaway, Virtuosity, Feed, or his first film, The Dead Pit, you’re not missing out on a goddamn thing.

Pit is slightly better than the others, however, due to its occasional low-budget charm, good locale, and a fun finale. Still, it’s a borderline chore to get to that 3rd act, as almost nothing happens other than a Dolph-ish Nazi ghoul occasionally killing folks. We are literally an hour in before any legit zombie action begins. Hell, even the goddamn credits are endless – I think we are about 10 minutes in before the final card appears. There are also several pointlessly long shots (someone leaves a shot and we hold on a blank wall for an additional 5 seconds) that help make the film feel slower than it already is.

Another thing that severely cripples the film is Cheryl Lawson, as the lead. She is, quite frankly, the worst actress ever assigned to carry a film. She moans or cries nearly every line she has, and can’t even pull off a good delivery on simple things like “Nice to meet you”. It’s astonishing that she was the best they could do; even on a low budget you would think that ANYONE would be able to be convincing at least once or twice during the film, but no such luck with her. And since there’s really only one other prominent cast member (a Nick Chinlund-y hardass), it’s a major issue.

Still though, once the hospital becomes overrun with zombies it improves, with some nice makeup gags and a much more lively pace. However, again, since there are really only two people on the “hero” side, it’s sort of lacking any real suspense or thrills, since we know they will be OK until the very end at least. And I like that it’s the rare zombie film in which there’s no open ending hinting at an apocalypse; other than the standard “one left” final scare, the zombies are entirely wiped out by the film’s best invention – a toppled water tower that has been blessed by a nun (for some reason holy water kills zombies in this movie. Whatever.).

This one is coming on DVD in a month or two, but I really can’t see myself ever wanting to watch it again. And they basically admitted at the screening that they plan to double dip, so don’t buy the single disc when it comes out, there’s a two disc on the way.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I still remember to this day laughing my ass off when I saw the first preview for "Virtuosity" back in the day and it had the movie guy having to say "From the Director of Lawnmower Man" as if this was a good thing. I still can't figure out how he got to direct Denzel Washington. At least Crowe has the excuse of still trying to make a name for himself.

    And to prove how forgettable the film was, I read many reviews of "American Gangster" that said something along the lines of this being the first time Washington and Crowe had teamed up. Anyways, I hate Brett Leonard.


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