Monday, August 16, 2010

Living Dead and Deader: Raiders of the Living Dead

Why can't I find a decent Living Dead movie these days?  In the 42 years since Night, you would think that someone would have done another good movie with that subtitle!  So far, I've gotten inner city zombies, socialite ghosts and German vampires.  Well, this is a late '80s zombie flick, so that has to be the winner, right?  Sadly, no.  All of this film's history would lead you to think that it's a camp classic, but it just doesn't deliver all that much.  Originally filmed as a straight zombie film called Dying Day, the movie couldn't be sold.  So, a new director came in and shot some footage.  Then he came in later and shot even more footage.  The result was a straight zombie film with a sub-plot involving a doctor and his grandchildren fighting zombies with a laser gun made out of a Laserdisc player.  No, really.  Maybe I'm just being too harsh here.  Will another look bring more luster to this film?  Get out your ticket to a Three Stooges flick for my review of...
Oddly, the movie begins with a truck full of chemicals driving down the road.  A man with an M-16 sneaks up behind the thing and takes it over.  Really?  You just have that strapped to your back in broad daylight, huh?  He drives it to a building nearby and take some hostages.  At least, I think so.  He drives there and then the movie explains that he has hostages- okay.  The police stall for a bit before going on, three of them being killed.  Finally, the man trips during his escape and gets electrocuted.  In what feels like a side story, a reporter goes to investigate a mysterious assignment.  He takes a lady along with him...then makes her stay in the car.  He sneaks in...but suddenly dives through a window.  He explains that there are zombies loose, so they need to get away.  Naturally, the car won't start.  They sneak away, but the woman gets killed and the man gets knocked out.  So, the zombies didn't kill him, huh?  He wanders down the road for a bit before being picked up by a woman.  She's nice and friendly, so she's obviously our new heroine.  So long, dead girl whose name escapes me!  In a bit of footage added in the two re-shoots, we see an old man give his Laserdisc player to his grandson to fix.  Naturally, the kid uses it to make a laser gun.  Wait, what?

In the film's main plot, the journalist tries to find the source behind all of the zombies.  Instead of focusing on that, however, he goes on a date with the woman to see a Three Stooges movie.  Don't worry- the living dead can wait!  Oh yeah, this movie is also entirely-blue...for some reason.  Meanwhile, the super-smart kid meets up with his sister after inadvertently killing his pet hamster with the laser.  He tests it again, using it to shoot at some bullies who randomly drive up alongside his sister and harass her.  Damn you, random teens who commit acts for no clear reason!  Back in the plot, our hero looks into the only piece of evidence he has: the name of the zombie's uniform.  He goes to see a woman at the library for information, who turns out to be a fount of exposition.  Considering he was going to use microfiche seconds before this happens, it seems random.  She tells him that the company name is one that has been around for a long time and shouldn't be looked into.  When he returns to his temporary home, zombies have killed the B&B owner and he narrowly escapes with his life.  Good thing you went gun-shopping, huh?  Now considered a suspect for murder, he does the only natural thing: go to see a second Three Stooges film.  No, really.

Unfortunately, all of those movies build up to a goofy, '80s film fall apart in the end.  Our reporter follows a medical lead and ends up finding a doctor to help him.  That doctor turns out to be the grandfather of the two kids.  On top of that, the criminal from earlier ends up as a lackey for the man behind the zombie outbreak.  It all boils down to a night-time showdown between the zombies and our heroes- including the two kids with their laser guns.  This is nearly-impossible follow due to confusing editing, slow pacing and the entire thing being shot as day-for-night.  Seriously, this is the thing that kills so many movies!  We learn that a minor character from earlier (the coroner from the B&B crime scene) is the man behind the whole affair.  Wow, that feels forced.  Even with all of their armaments, things turn against our heroes.  Thankfully, our journalist friend borrows one of the kids' laser guns and just kills all of the zombies.  Anti-climactic, much?  The End.

This movie...really sucks.  I really thought that this would be a campy bit of fun (at worst)- it's not.  The story is formulaic to a fault.  Zombies are loose due to some evil doctor- so what?  The zombies are alright, but do nothing to stand out.  They don't run, they don't look really gross and they don't prove all that hard to kill.  Hell, without the plot thread setting up the fact that they are zombies, they could just be lethargic people with Polio crutches!  Given the tumultuous history of the film- it was shot three times to get this result- you would expect a fun mess.  The actual result- a decent film that is fairly-easy to follow.  The stuff with the kids feels forced, but it's nothing compared to such campy films as Shaolin Dolemite (a real movie) or Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.  If they had tried to make the thing silly and ridiculous, it could be an easy recommendation.  Sadly, this film is just dull as dishwater.  You didn't make a good zombie film or a funny one.  Sorry, but there's a reason why you're an obscure film that got no press.

Up next, Klaus Kinski returns in a nearly-forgotten Italian remake.  My love for his work may be spoken of 'never more.'  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Yeah.. going to pass on this one. If I come by a good Living Dead films Ill tell you, but please, please avoid Zombie Bloodbath. Virgin Among the Living Dead doesnt even make good porn.