FEBRUARY 22, 2010
Attention: low budget zombie filmmakers (actually, BIG budget ones can take this advice too) - easiest way to win me over, besides slow zombies? NO HUMAN ENEMIES. Throughout Dead Meat I kept wondering when the film was going to go off the rails and lose me by introducing a group of humans that were just as bad or worse than the undead flesh-eaters, but it never happens. It still has the unfortunate deus ex machina ending of many, where guys in haz-mat suits show up to save the day, but by then the movie had already earned my appreciation. Even the requisite hardass is lovable, after being introduced as a complete jerk, he becomes a useful ally, not unlike CJ in the Dawn remake, but nowhere near as initially harsh.
I also like that the movie MOVES. It’s not too long before our first zombie kill (a would-be hero! Surprised me anyway), and from then on our heroine and the people she meets up with are constantly on the go. No long “what are we going to do?” argument/debate scenes, no monologues... they’re constantly going from one location to another, fighting off zombies and trying to avoid being bitten.
And it’s not a comedy, which was nice. I heard that the film was comparable to Evil Dead 2 and Re-Animator, but I didn’t find it particularly funny, or even really trying to be. The odd gags here and there (shoe through the eye) are of course worth a chuckle or a “Whoaaa!! Hahahah, NICE!”, and since the cause of the zombie virus is mad cow disease, you can probably guess what sort of non human-zombie the heroes have to eventually fight, but the tone is hardly an all out comedy. The score is rather Carpenter-y at times (i.e. foreboding), and unlike the usual “zom-com”, the human characters aren’t dealing with any other crisis in their lives, thus negating most of the humor potential anyway. The funniest bit in the film has to be when they think a woman has turned, simply because she’s not particularly attractive to look at. Heh. But again, a few funny moments doesn’t make it a funny movie; it’s all about the overall tone.
Also - it’s Irish! According to an article from Fangoria (who distributed the film in the States) that is included on the disc (in PDF form), it was actually their first horror film, since they frown upon such things and thus make it impossible for filmmakers to get them financed. Thus it’s of little surprise that even with HMAD-ing I’ve seen very few Irish horror films; Dorothy Mills is the only other one that comes to mind. Some folks have complained that the accents were too thick for them to understand, but I didn’t have a problem with them, and there’s not a hell of a lot of dialogue anyway beyond things like “Go, go, go!” and “You OK?”, which are universally understood, I think.
Along with the Fango article, there’s a making of piece that I enjoyed, because you see everyone working hard and with a sense of humor, and it nicely ends on a sold out premiere screening at a horror festival. A short film from director Conor McMahon (Irish-est name ever!) is also included, but I couldn’t watch the whole thing due to the fact that someone who rented the disc before me apparently molested the goddamn thing. I was shocked that the feature played without a hitch.
The quality of Fangoria’s magazine began to falter in the 00s, and part of the problem was that they were spreading themselves too thin. The magazine, the website, the radio shows, a “TV” station (online), and then of course, these releases - too much for just a small group to do (doesn’t help that Tony Timpone became less and less interested in the actual movies). As a kid who grew up reading the glory years of the mag, this bummed me out, but their name still carries a lot of weight, and putting it behind a film like this, which would otherwise probably be an anonymous MTI or Lionsgate release, without any more or less marketing behind it than any of the 200 others they release per year, is an admirable decision. Been a while since they have put any titles out, but if the magazine folds, hopefully they can put some of the company’s focus on finding quality indies like this once again.
What say you?