Here I sat on Halloween morning (2007) with an enormous appetite for gore and zombie innards when I decided it was time to take a shit. Oh yes, we all know that feeling in the morning, that magnetic pull towards the stacks of Fangoria and porn in front of the porcelain God. It just so happens I decided to reread some of Bill Warren's "The Evil Dead Companion
" while pinching my annual Halloween loaf. It's ironic I chose this reading material today because when I entered the office (about 2 pounds lighter and much more comfortable) I realized that I slated The Dead Next Door
to be reviewed on Halloween. The reason these two are connected is because Sam Raimi (director of the Evil Dead
series) was an executive producer on the film and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead
, Spider Man) did the voice dubbing over characters 'Raimi' and 'Commander Carpenter'. I guess these things will happen when every waking moment of your life is consumed with Horror. Life is hard.
If The Evil Dead
was considered a B-film, The Dead Next Door
is a C or D film. I'm not referring to it's quality (well kind of) but more to it's budget and filming approach. Sam Raimi used his entire pay from Evil Dead II
(a measly $75,000) to fund this film. In movie budget standards, that's not even an ink dot on the budget scale. But an amazing thing happened in the small town of Akron, Ohio where the 99% of the film was shot. Word spread fast that a filmmaker (J.R. Bookwalter) was filming a zombie film in their small country town and, as expected, everyone wanted to participate. Believe it or not, everyone who worked on this film worked for free. That's just unheard of! With any film in production, someone always raises a stink about how they should be reimbursed for their time and effort. But not one person complained. Hundreds of the towns people participated over the months of filming. Some helped apply makeup, store owners donated their shops for filming locations and hundreds were used as zombie extras. One town person reported, "It was like the actors and crew threw a party and Akron came."
Now that you know some of the background, it must be said that it's painfully obvious they used people who have never acted before. The acting (besides Pete Ferry and Jolie Jackunas) is 100% horse shit. And the atrocious voice dubbing over them makes it astronomically bad. BUT! That only adds to the (somewhat) ridiculous storyline. The aspect of the story that I liked is the concept of a trained group of rogue soldiers who hunt zombies and attempt to find ways to destroy them. On the other hand, there's a laughable 'zombie cult' thrown in for us to roll our eyes at. It's not a cult with members of zombies, but rather a cult who worships zombies. I feel this idea could've been pulled off with better direction and some script changes, but the way it's executed is just embarrassing. For example, there is a scene where a young woman is surrounded by men, with the stereotypical black robes and swords, then they sacrifice her and feed her to the hoards of zombies they have in the basement. Ok, feed the zombies, yes, but why the robes and swords? What ever happened to just slitting the throat and kicking them down the damn stairs? Sigh.
The Dead Next Door
also has it's charm. It's a FANTASTIC film to watch while drunk or while attempting to get drunk. What seems embarrassing while sober is downright hysterical while drunk. There's not many poorly shot films that do that for me, so I do recommend it for that purpose. There's plenty of gore, severed heads and exploding body parts which is also a saving factor for the film. In nearly every scene there's a corpse, a pool of guts or a head imploding. Alot of graphic violence always lightens the mood on a not-so-good film.
To make an even longer review shorter, I give The Dead Next Door
a 5/10 on the severed penis scale. It has many faults but just as many redeeming factors. It's great to play in the background of your drunken orgies or when all you're buddies come over to perform a bukkake on your wife.