Dawn of the Living Dead (Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya)

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When there’s no more room in hell David Heavener will be able to make a movie involving Aztec zombies, inappropriate relationships, and ancient curses. It’s a legend as old as time.

Little known fact, Aztecs were actually very tolerant of the undead, and despite what Mr. “I Only Make Absolute Shit For Movies” Heavener would like you to believe, the Aztec Undead controlled themselves very well while among the living. Not that the undead haven’t always been flesh starved bastards willing to devour a human whole at the slightest inclination, but we were treated with such respect by the ancient Aztecs that we gave them just as much respect back. The Aztec undead staved off eating anyone but those that the living Aztecs wanted us to eat. Oh, did I forget to mention that bit, yeah, that’s a big part of why we were so under control back then, because they feed us, they feed us pretty damn good too from what I’ve been told by my older brethren. Had something to do with appeasing some god of the dead while simultaneously keeping us docile with living chew toys. Kept us happy as well. Of course when we didn’t get fed we got a bit peckish and helped to nearly destroy their empire, but you know how it goes, fish gotta swim, zombies gotta eat.

Our film for the night begins with a couple, Renee and Jeffrey (Renee’s former psychologist and new husband, nothing creepy at all there), buying a piece of shit house in the middle of nowhere. Things get off to a weird start when Renee takes a relaxing bath and a ghostly arm tries to drown her. Instead of killing her though, the mysterious arm gives her a vision of a family being murdered on her property and as soon as the vision ends, she wakes up downstairs with no memory of how she got there. Latter the next day, as Renee is cleaning up the grounds surrounding her house, she sees one of the murdered family members from her vision who leads Renee to the rest of her zombified family who stare at the baffled woman like undead Peeping Toms. Here’s where it gets a bit confusing, and understand, this is only about fifteen minutes into the movie. It seems they want to protect her by the logical means of tormenting her and nearly killing her on a few occasions (Aztec zombie logic I suppose). They’re trying to save her from the Lords of Death because the family wasn’t buried right or something, I’m not quite sure. Renee figures most of the out from a random book she found and some drawings by the murdered little girl, drawings that were somehow made as she was being murdered. Look, I really have no fucking clue, but it just gets dumber from here on out.

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{Look a squirrel}

I should have known this movie was going to bomb by the cover alone, but I got a little too hooked on the tag line that this was a comedic mash up between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out that not just the tag line but the name itself had been changed to better pull in a few suckers (myself included). The actual title for this film was Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya with the tagline “A family that preys together, stays together.” I wish I had known who David Heavener was before I watched the piece of garbage. Well, I wish I’d at least remembered the name anyways. After looking him up, I recognized several of his movies; they were just always so forgettable that I, well, I forgot about each one, locking into them a deep, dark part of my brain so far down that I hoped they would never resurface. I won’t even go into the horrible flashbacks that came with remembering these awful, terrible flicks. David Heavener is most assuredly the Anti-Midas to cinema, any movie he touches becomes absolute shit. The man should definitely be barred from ever being able to make films again.

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{I don’t always suck at making movies, but when I do I, no wait, I actually do always suck at making movies}

I’m not even sure where to begin when describing how awful this movie is. You can take your pick, from the terrible acting, the ridiculous story that makes little to no sense, the effects that make you want to throw something at the TV, or the parts of this movie where you can see how little Heavener cared about what he was making. What do I mean by that last bit? Well, I’m glad you asked dear imagined voice in my head (at least I hope it was imagined). Let me just tick off a few of the better examples for you, some of the parts where Heavener’s laziness truly became apparent.

  • There’s a scene where Renee runs out of the house chased by her rapey husband Jeffery, nothing particularly special about it. Except for the fact that when they’re both arguing in the house, Jeffery is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but once he’s chased her outside, his shirt has magically changed into a plain grey shirt. At least I’m assuming it was magic because I can’t see the old man switching shirts out that easily.
  • Another scene has a baby doll lying on the ground one second, yet the next second it’s in Renee’s hands and she then puts it on the ground herself before the damn thing just ups and vanishes.
  • There’s a part at the end where a character named Michael, who comes into the film about half way through (played by none other than David Heavener himself, doing his damndest to prove he can’t act, but we’ll get to that later), gets attacked by a zombie baby. The baby looks ridiculous enough, I’m pretty sure it’s one of those dollar store baby dolls with some paint slapped on it, but it’s painfully obvious when Heavener pulls it towards him and wiggles it around his neck without even trying to make it look natural.

These are but a few of the examples of the shit that even a half competent film maker would have caught if they actually cared the slightest bit about the film they were making. I have an entire page written down of more instances where you can tell Heavener just didn’t care one way or the other. Now let’s dive into the ridiculous story elements and instances of absolute bat shit insanity that permeate every inch of this film.

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{Top of the line zombie baby effects}

I’m not even sure if I can accurately paint a picture of just how bad the story is or how much odd shit is added that makes absolutely no sense. I watched it twice (that’s how much your reviewer loves you) hoping to understand it more and maybe catch something I’d missed but I still don’t fucking get it. They kept talking about these Lords of Death but never described what they were or why the murdered family not being buried right would incur their wrath. The Lords of Death never show, nor do they ever make their presence known with anything other than a multiplying of the sun, something that doesn’t seem to bother any of the characters by the way, personally, I’d kind of freak out if there were suddenly three suns in the sky. Yeah, for some reason the angrier the Lords are, the more the sun splits until it hits a certain number and then something, something, Aztecs, something, something, murdered family zombies that need to be feed because they deserved a feast, something, something. Don’t ask me, I was completely lost. I think I should have watched this one drunk because it might have made more sense that way. I’m sure it was written, directed, and edited drunk, so copious amounts of liquor might have been what I needed. I can’t imagine how much alcohol must have been consumed to have come up with the rape scene in this film which still gives me headaches thinking about. I guess I should elaborate. There is a scene towards the end, after our “heroine” Renee has meet creeper Michael where her husband gets drunk and begins raping her. Out of nowhere, she’s suddenly having what is supposed to be passionate sex with Michael, and when it’s over she asks him if it’s real to which he responds with something to the effect of “If you want it to be.” We then go to the next morning where her husband apologies for sexually assaulting her, she forgives him, and we move on. What in the flying fuck? This is how absolutely fucking stupid this movie is.

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{Heavener’s idea of a healthy relationship}

And then there’s the acting, or what is supposed to amount to acting anyhow. I’ll give one person a pass and that’s actress Amanda Bauman who plays Renee. Out of everyone involved she was the only one who did a half decent job. Well, her and Todd Bridges. That’s right Diff’rent Strokes actor Todd Bridges “stars” in this movie, and by stars I mean he has a few scenes even though he’s advertised as one of the film’s stars. I will say though, he doesn’t do a bad job for the scenes he’s in. The zombies on the other hand are some of the worst I’ve seen and I’ve seen some horribly acted zombies before (I won’t even go into how awful the zombie makeup was). I’m not sure who taught them to act like zombies but I think he was playing a cruel joke, especially when it came to the growl they made that always got me chuckling (including when the zombie daughter “growl talks” to her zombie family). Joe Estevez as Renee’s creepy husband is another awful example. He doesn’t seem very able to comprehend emotion and can’t express himself at all, hell, he can’t even hustle when he’s supposed to be rushing to his screaming wife, kind of just going at a slow job instead while she’s being murdered. Then we come to David Heavener himself, easily the absolute worst fucking thing in the disaster laughably called a movie. He tries so hard to be a suave, charming gentleman but comes across as a creeper instead, making your skin crawl every time he’s on screen pretending he can be dashing. To make all the acting even worse is the atrocious dialogue that most of these actors flail through. I just dry heaved a bit thinking about how bad it was.

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{When Todd Bridges is a bragging point for your film you may want to rethink your game plan}

This is definitely on my list of top ten worst zombie flicks ever made, possibly even coming in at number two or three it was so bad. If you come across this film I can only offer you one cure, fire, and lots of it.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: David Heavener (Prime Target, Angel Blade)

Starring: David Heavener (Twisted Justice, Eye of the Stranger), Amanda Bauman (Things You Don’t Tell, I Shouldn’t Be Alive), Joe Estevez (Soultaker, Beach Babes from Beyond), and kind of Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes, Death Row)

Released By: Interstar Holdings

Release Year: 2004

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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