Brain Dead on DVD

Sunday, 20 February 2011 08:38

Bill and Ben (no, not the Bill and Ben!) are fishing by the side of a sun-dappled pond in the woods. Their tranquil repose is rudely interrupted by a flaming meteorite that strikes Bill in the head, killing him instantly. Moments later he transforms into a slobbering, growling zombie and snacks on his friend’s cranium. Yes folks, it is alien-infected zombie time again, and there are plenty of cute young things in the woods to feast on!

“Brain Dead” (not to be confused with Peter Jackson’s 1992 effort) is a multi-award-winning independent horror film that resembles the “Evil Dead” trilogy in its fast-paced, splatter-laden and humorous approach. The cast includes the usual range of nubile hikers, a religious zealot and lady companion, two escaped convicts and assorted lawmen. They all find their way to a remote cabin, and have to fend off a zombie siege.

Brain Dead on DVDAs you can tell, director Kevin Tenney does not exactly have the world’s most original premise to work with, but he manages to do a reasonable job of keeping his audience entertained for 90 minutes. Despite some uneven pacing, the movie generally bobs along nicely and the absurd meteorite opening sets the tone perfectly.

We are introduced to each of the characters succinctly and for the most part the script and actors manage to make them fairly appealing. Their attractive looks and abundant nudity at the start certainly help, but more than that it is their obvious appreciation of the pulpy material that gets you on their side. The stand-out performance belongs to Joshua Benton as Clarence, one of the cons. His winning, smart-Alec persona really boosts the comedic aspect of the film.

The OTT special effects, make-up and gore are pretty impressive for a low-budget movie. Zombie Bill (Dennis Michael Tenney) goes to town with his brain-munching antics, and there are plenty of opportunities for him (and others) to remove heads from shoulders or just seize the brains as they come. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” remake and “Scanners” come to mind when you see some of the gore, which surely must be a compliment to lead SFX crew members Gabriel Bartalos and Andrew Durbin.

There are a couple of moments when the film steps outside the taste boundary, which is really saying something for a film in the splatter genre! The first instance is when a cop is killed violently for no apparent reason (the criminals are nowhere near as hard as they first seem, so this act feels totally out of character), and secondly when an alien spore or pupa emerges very graphically from the body of a female character infected by the zombies. Both of these moments really jarred in my mind and distracted me a while as I struggled to understand the reason for their inclusion.

Aside from that complaint and the aforementioned pacing hiccups, “Brain Dead” is an unpretentious, fun little horror movie. It has absolutely nothing new to offer but will most likely amuse anyone who chooses to give it a chance. In terms of added value, the only extra on the disc is a trailer which literally includes ALL of the best bits, so please ignore it!

“Brain Dead” (2007) is out now, courtesy of ISIS Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 90 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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