Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Dead Heads Review

Previously published for Front Room Cinema in 2012:

When horror and comedy are mixed well it can lead to some fantastic results; splatter-fests such as Bad Taste and The Return of the Living Dead prove they are a combination that is meant to be together, and some of the best horrors are tinged with black comedy. I am always wary when approaching horror comedies as it is not hard for them to miss the mark but, when a handful of originality can lead to a cult classic, I was intrigued to see if DeadHeads would be up there with Bad Taste or end up leaving one in my mouth.

The simple premise of siding with the villains throughout a horror film is an under-used storytelling technique that has recently gained popularity thanks to the success of hillbilly horror spoof Tucker and Dale Vs Evil. DeadHeads treads a fairly similar path, choosing to follow the actions of a recently turned zombie, Mike Kellerman, who is struggling to comprehend his new existence.

With a burning desire to visit the love of his life, Mike sets off on a voyage of discovery stopping only to pick up other zombies who are eager to join him for the ride, and are only too happy to help when it comes to easing him into his new life as a shuffling corpse. Pursued by people hunting the living dead for different reasons, Mike and his pals soon bite off more flesh than they can chew and end up in a number of sticky, and very gory situations.

It is not long before the homages come thick and fast with nods to countless other zombie films being a staple of the film's script, thankfully this is not to DeadHeads detriment as the send-ups are all in good faith as well as fitting nicely alongside the story. Unfortunately, when it comes to humour, DeadHeads is disappointingly lacking, and some of the weaker sub-plots fail to flesh out what at times seems to be an overly long film.

There are a number of redeeming features though; Deadheads contains the best intestine scene since Machete came along, and although that's not saying much, the gruesome effects are impressive for the low budget, with some very convincing dismemberments and bucketfuls of blood thrown in for good measure. Whilst the acting is not pitch-perfect, the cast all deliver enthusiastic performances and it is worth sticking around until the end to catch the fantastic improvisations that run alongside the credits.

It is clear that DeadHeads is a labour of love and as such it feels wrong to criticise the film too harshly but there are times when the humour feels forced and falls flat. This is by no means a bad film, and will certainly be enjoyed by zombie aficionados, but I doubt that it will find a wider audience and is perfectly suited to its direct to dvd release.

5/10