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The Dead and the Damned (2010)
Inception Media Group
DVD Released: 7/26/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/26/2011
It must be great to be a zombie right now. After years of languishing in low-budget movies and foreign oddities (just watch any Lucio Fulci movie to see how disjointed foreign zombie movies can be), zombies are suddenly the hottest thing in horror. From television shows to novels to movies, zombies are more lively than ever. When a subject gets hot, filmmakers will try to shove it into different genres (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, anyone?) and thus we get projects like The Dead and the Damned, a zombie western. But, will the living dead fit in in the Old West?
The Dead and the Damned introduces us to Mortimer (David A. Lockhart), a bounty hunter who prowls the Old West, bringing in the criminals who demand the largest rewards. He approaches the local sheriff and learns of a hefty prize for bringing in an Indian who raped and killed a White woman. Mortimer travels to the town near where the incident occurred and, while on the way towards the mountains where the Indian is rumored to be hiding, purchases Rhiannon (Camille Montgomery), a young woman who is being sold by her mother. Mortimer uses Rhiannon as bait (much to her dismay) and quickly captures Brother Wolf (Rick Mora). Meanwhile, some locals find a glowing rock and take it into town. While attempting to examine the rock, it splits open, covering the crowd with a green mist. This turns them into bloodthirsty monsters. They invade the local hills, confronting Mortimer, Rhiannon, and Brother Wolf. This odd group quickly learns that they must work together if they are to survive.
The Dead and the Damned was originally entitled "Cowboys vs. Zombies". Doesn't that sound like a fun, campy movie? Well, if it does, you've been misled. Yes, it's easy to assume that this movie would be a tongue-in-cheek good time...but it's not. The Dead and the Damned is very serious and plays its subject matter very straight. Now, on the one hand, first time Writer/Director Rene Perez should be commended for going this route. He's created a straight-forward Western, complete with shoot-outs and fist-fights, which just happens to turn into a zombie movie halfway through. Even at this point, things remain very grim and serious. The story takes some surprising turns, and these stay true to that straight tone.
Have you ever seen a movie where it's strongest point is actually its downfall? That's the case with The Dead and the Damned. I'm not saying that the movie should have been a comedy or a satire, but at some point, it could have winked at the audience and said, "Yes, we know that all of this cowboys and zombies silliness is a bit out there, so just sit back and have fun." At the same time that the movie is taking itself seriously, it's difficult for the audience to take it seriously and thus its nihilism creates an uneven tone. Things are further complicated by the gratuitous nudity in the movie. And when I say gratuitous, I mean the movie stops just to show female nudity. This also spits in the eye of the seriousness of the film.
The movie's odd tone aside, The Dead and the Damned must get kudos for trying. The Old West town set is a bit questionable, but everything else -- the horses, the gunfights, Brother Wolf -- is definitely above the standard "Hey, let's put on a show!" feel which some low-buget indies have. The acting is pretty good, most notably Lockhart, although there are some moments where I felt as if the actors were waiting for their cues. The zombie makeup is pretty good, although, and this may be off the subject, I never quite grasped why the zombies ran for the hills instead of hanging around town. The bottom line is that The Dead and the Damned is an interesting experiment which could have used a dose of humor.
The Dead and the Damned makes selling women seem like an everyday thing on DVD courtesy of Inception Media Group. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. There is some very mild grain here, but it's not distracting. The daytime scenes are very crisp and have a nice amount of depth. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The dynamic range is a bit off, as the opening gunfight is louder than subsequent dialogue scenes. However, that shoot-out does show off some nicely detailed stereo effects. The in-film music (which is hard rock for some reason) sounds fine, as it comes from the front and rear channels. I didn't detect much in the way of subwoofer effects.
The only extra on The Dead and the Damned DVD is a TRAILER for the movie.
Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long