DVD Review: Dead Season
Review by Marc Patterson
I only have tolerance for two types of zombie films: One, schlocky brain-munching fiend films that capitalize on gut-churning gore (i.e. Zombi 2, Zombie Lake, etc), and two – more serious stabs at the genre, which explore our humanity in the face of apocalyptic horror (i.e. 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead being two prime examples – although as a footnote I might add the best of these type of post-apocalyptic films don’t even feature zombies – The Road, The Divide, etc).
Sacrilegiously spoken, I’m not a huge fan of George Romero. It’s not that I dislike his films, it’s just that for me they’re nothing special. Go ahead. Crucify me if you will. His films weren’t my introduction to the genre and while I fully “get” their importance to the genre, they’re just another set of zombie films. Some are better than others. Most of them, especially his latest, aren’t worth revisiting.
In fact, while I’m fascinated with zombies for being nearly unstoppable destructive forces of nature, they aren’t that interesting overall, and I don’t quite understand how the craze surrounding them has managed to last so long. Nonetheless, it has and will persist for many years to come. The zombies have landed and, just as they are on screen, they’re here to stay.
Enter Dead Season, which pairs director Adam Deyoe (Psycho Sleepover, Street Team Massacre) with writer/editor/producer Loren Semmons (exec producer of Lucky McKee’s The Woman). Deyoe’s films are obviously the low-budget schlock I’ve previously mentioned, and then you have The Woman – a more intelligent horror film. Walking into Dead Season I actually had high hopes. Plus, have you seen the trailer? Fuckin’ sickening!
Hopefully you just paused to check that out. Yes, it’s slightly spoilerish, but it was also my selling point and I can assure you that this film gives you exactly what it promises – loads of cheap gore gags, near non-stop carnage, and plenty of allusions to grandeur. The plot is nearly identical to 28 Days Later, except not as rich. Elvis (Scott Peat) is alone in the aftermath of a worldwide outbreak and is looking for a better place to survive. Alone in his barricaded shelter he communicates at night with a woman who won’t reveal her identity. One evening his shelter is robbed by a woman and young boy. Elvis catches the two in the act, but instead of putting a bullet their their skull he invites them to stay. (What a good Christian thing to do!) Turns out this girl, Tweeter (Marisa Merrill), is the same woman he’s been chatting with on the short-wave. The young boy is of no relation to her, just an orphan trying to hack it out in a world gone mad. Elvis has another radio contact who assures him that there’s an island free of zombies and for an exchange of goods will get him there. Like the desperate survivor he is he takes the bait. It turns out, Elvis hit gold. The island is the promised land. Kind of. Well, not really. Our trio have just escaped the zombie apocalypse to land in bed with a bunch of cannibals. Great. Just fuckin’ great. Things go to shit from there. I won’t spoil the film for you, but it’s not much of a stretch to state that this flick follows a fairly predictable plot.
To be honest, I’m not really sure what kind of zombie film this was. It had its serious moments and its schlocky moments, all complemented by amateurish writing that felt like it was a dejected first draft in need of serious polishing. Tonally it felt a lot like a lower budget version of George Romero’s Survival of the Dead, while at the same time taking a stab at the subtext of 28 Days Later, but not really accomplishing either very well. But it looked pretty fuckin’ sweet. Cinematographer Jeffrey Peters did a knock up job. High five man!
That said, and this is a big “That said”, (which reminds me – did any of you watch the season seven finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm with Seinfeld? Hilarious!), I actually found Dead Season to be wholly entertaining, in a “check your brain at the door” kind of way. Having watched the trailer I wasn’t expecting good acting (good thing). I wasn’t expecting a heavy plot (didn’t get one). All I expected was a decent third rate rip-off of 28 Days Later. And guess what? I wasn’t disappointed. It’s exactly what I got.
I don’t really know how to recommend, or conversely warn you against, this film. If you were at all intrigued by the trailer then you should most definitely watch it. It’s light. It’s fun. It’s forgettable and not too smart – just like half the girls you banged freshman year in college. If you’re into that sort of thing then dive in. You won’t be disappointed.
Dead Season is available on DVD from Image Entertainment on July 31st and is currently available through most VOD providers.