Dead 7

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Many years after zombies forced the people of Earth to adjust to a much simpler lifestyle that resembles the American old west, a group of seven gunslingers (many of whom you’ll recognize as former boy band stars from the 90s) must confront a woman determined to use trained zombies in her quest for…well, that was never clear, but it can’t be good.

I generally enjoy everything there is to being a member of the living dead. No one bugs you to help move their stuff (body parts falling off here and there make it kind of difficult to keep up a good pace), you can get your food all over your face without anyone handing you a napkin (hard to tell the creature covered in blood they might want to clean up), and you never have to worry about being lonely when your food becomes your friend after you finish eating (generally after some angry stares because you ate pieces of them, but still). That being said, there is one thing that always gets to me, our old timers, some of which have been around for a few hundred years, and while their bodies are little more than desiccated husks, their mouths work perfectly. The history buff in me loves hearing stories of the past from the people who actually lived through it, but the movie buff in me hates having my cinematic fantasies so thoroughly destroyed. Case in point, the American old west. I’ve never been a huge fan of the western genre, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a cowboy flick every now and again. There’s an appeal in imagining a lawless land full of gunslingers ready to engage in quick draw duels for the honor of their horse or their whiskey or just because it was Tuesday. It was the ultimate little kid fantasy before Oregon Trail made us all realize dysentery was a thing and we started to wonder if shooting someone in the middle of a street just because they looked at us wrong might be better avoided, but none of this would have ever been an issue if we’d had old timers ruining said fantasies before imagination had a chance to take hold. Turns out the fabled “Wild West” wasn’t all that wild at all, in fact, it was a lot like today, just with a lot more racism and people crapping themselves to death, things you learn when you talk to a former farmer who lived on the frontier in Oregon before joining the ranks of the living dead. Kind of hard to keep up the fantasy when you hear otherwise from someone who was there. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff in the end, I’d rather know the real history than the embellished tales, but it’s hard enough to take a John Wayne movie seriously without knowing what things were really like during that time. Ah well, at least Dead 7 isn’t supposed to take place during the 1800s despite looking like it’s supposed to be a Western. Since that might trip a few people up, I guess I should stop rambling and get to reviewing.

Dead 7 begins sometime after a zombie epidemic nearly wiped out humanity. The few humans that survived this ordeal were forced to abandon their modern lives for a style very similar to the American old west. Patches of survivors have founded small towns that would fit right into a Clint Eastwood flick and cowboys roam the land in search of this new society’s currency, zombie teeth, though how you tell the difference is beyond my dental understanding. It’s not an easy life, but it’s one the world has become accustomed to after so many years. Things rarely stay stable for long though and a new threat is rearing its head in the form of a madwoman named Apocolypta (Mad TV showrunner Debra Wilson) who has managed to figure out how to train zombies to follow her orders. Led by the psychotic Johnny Vermillion (Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean), her undead army is running roughshod over any town in their way, but one town in particular isn’t about to go down that easy. Desert Springs mayor Shelby (NSYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick) gets wind of Apocolypta’s plan and hires a group of gunslingers that include the constantly drunk Whiskey Joe (Backstreet Boy Joey Fatone), sharpshooter The Vaquero (Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough), Assassin’s Creed cosplayer/ninja Komodo (O-Town’s Erik-Michael Estrada), and brothers Jack (Backstreet Boy Nick Carter) and Billy (98 Degrees’ Jeff Timmons) as well as Billy’s girlfriend, and possibly Jack’s former lover, Daisy Jane (I don’t think this one was in a boy band on account of not being a boy). The group will have to track Apocolypta up to her mountain hideout before she’s able to do whatever it is she plans to do. However, I’m not entirely sure what that plan would have entailed.

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{If you can rock a mic, you can rock a gun}

I don’t usually need to know the complete workings of the plot to enjoy a movie, but I do at least like to have a good understanding of the characters’ various motivations, even if those motivations are simply that they’re crazy or are just going along for the ride, but don’t spend an entire movie acting like a character has some kind of end game and then provide the viewer with nothing. I could not tell you what Apocolypta is planning to do with her zombie hordes despite her and her henchman Vermillion constantly talking about their plans, and when I say talking about their plans, I just mean saying they have one because they don’t ever elaborate. The filmmakers could have slipped a little line into the movie where Apocolypta says she just wants to destroy the world because zombies make for better lovers (a well-known fact) or had Vermillion tell the Dead 7 that the woman is as insane as insane gets and thinks she’s a zombie herself. Hell, they could have said she was possessed by the spirit of a bitter Don Knotts and it still would have been better than hyping up a plan we know nothing about and then never showing that plan put into action. It takes a while to hit once the film’s over, mainly because you’re too focused on the extremely anti-climactic ending, but there is a definite sense of disappointment in never being able to find out what the crazy lady with an undead fetish was going to do with her ever growing army. It almost feels as if writer Nick Carter (yeah, he wrote this too) rushed Dead 7 a bit and forgot to tie things up before production began because not only does the ending seem rushed, but there is a hinted love triangle between brothers Jack and Billy and Billy’s girlfriend Daisy Jane that never went anywhere. It shouldn’t matter because not every film needs a romance, some are much better without one, but in this case they spent so much time focusing on the steamy looks the three would give each other that I expected something to come of it, but nothing. It was a subplot that popped in and out, never fit in with what was going on at the time, and then simply disappeared as if there had never been a love triangle subplot in the first place. I didn’t see the point of having it in the movie if they weren’t going to do anything with it.

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{Apocolypta making sure Vermillion gets her point, now I wish she’d let me in on the secret}

The love triangle isn’t even the only time something happened that seemed out of place, or something that the movie suggested should be important but felt pointless and never really went anywhere. Like when a trap was sprung on the group at a brothel that was in the middle of nowhere for some reason (in a world with very few people left, putting your brothels where almost no one would go seems like a bad business model). I’m sure you think I’m ruining it by saying it’s a trap, but unless you’ve never watched a movie before, it’s obvious it’s a trap from the minute Joey Fatone belts out “I smell a whorehouse.” Not only is it obviously a trap, it comes across more like an afterthought than a necessary part of the movie, and despite the implication that the women in this brothel have important ties to Apocolypta and have been doing her dirty work for some time, nothing ever comes of it. The scene is thrown in there and ultimately amounts to another pointless, unfinished plot addition that goes nowhere. I wish someone had taken the time to address these problems with the plot, but this is an Asylum flick featuring a bunch of boy band members from decades past so it’s not like I put it on expecting a masterpiece of zombie cinema, and that’s precisely why I actually enjoyed it despite the problems that are apparent.

{Cheap Altair Cosplay and All}

Yes, there is a lot wrong with Dead 7, an unfinished script, an anticlimactic ending, a lack of subtitles (this is kind of important when you have an actor using an odd accent that’s extremely difficult to understand), fairly awful dialogue, and some clearly CGI blood splatter, but I still enjoyed the movie regardless. This is mainly due to the fact that the filmmakers didn’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously. I’d imagine they knew what they had on their hands, and rather than using their gimmick for a serious horror flick, they just had fun with it. There are a few moments where things take a grim turn and the movie gets a more serious tone (I never thought I’d feel so sad watching a former Backstreet Boy get killed off), but for the most part, it’s all lighthearted fun. The action sequences are over the top with everyone doing their best to showcase Steven Segal levels of slapstick fighting, and I’m not talking about young Segal when you could still take the man seriously, I’m talking present day Segal whose last fight was against a cheeseburger. To make these fights even sillier, there is a prevalent amount of snappy one liners that are uttered towards creatures that aren’t likely to understand them, but much like the fight sequences, it’s done in such an overdramatic way that it’s clear the filmmakers were going for something close to parody with no intention of being genuine. This outlook is evident in the gore as well, but I’m a little less forgiving with this one, but only because there are some great makeup effects mixed in with awful CGI. The zombie design was well done, though I could have done without the blackened eyes that made me constantly think of 30 Days of Night, and the practical effects when used worked out great. Even the scenery was well designed with little touches added in that made a huge difference, but the CGI was, as always, extremely apparent in scenes that would have worked much better with the use of practical effects. You can expect to see a lot of exploding heads in Dead 7, you can also expect to sigh at how awful each Scanners recreation looks. It’s a shame because someone on that crew had a real knack for makeup considering some of the more impressive work shown, and I’m sure they could have done much better than the terrible CGI.

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{Everclear front man Art Alexis can’t distract from everything}

For a movie that I admit to liking, I sure have a lot to complain about, but there was one more thing that made this movie worth the watch for me, our former boy band members turned actors. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it occurred to me while I was watching Dead 7 that anyone that had made it big as a member of a boy band would have to be a somewhat competent actor. They’re already playing characters in these bands, the sassy one, the sensitive one, the cannibal who ate their manager, whatever character the studio needs each member to play, so there would have to be some kind of acting talent there (funny enough, those same character types, sensitive, sassy, etc., are all present for Dead 7). I’m not saying any of these guys are the next Jack Nicholson, although A.J. McLean did kind of remind me of Nicholson’s version of The Joker with his psychotic laugh and hammy portrayal of insanity, but they do a good job with the characters. Joey Fatone is absolutely hilarious, chewing the scenery in a way that would have made William Shatner proud, Nick Carter makes a decent action hero, something I never thought I’d say about someone who was in a boy band, Howie Dorough was very likable, again, something I never thought I’d say about a former boy band kid, and Erik-Michael Estrada was good in his attempt to recreate the live action version of the dude from the Assassin’s Creed video game. They all seemed to be having such a good time with their characters, and that feeling of enjoyment was very apparent, allowing the fun to be transferred from the actor to the viewer. There are a few weak links no doubt, trying to make Nick Carter’s wife look and act Native American was a big one, but for the most part, I loved their performance.

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{Joey Fatone was already a riot, but him and Howie Dorough together were a blast}

Now, I should probably mention something that might have had a huge impact on how I felt about Dead 7, I never paid attention to any of these people when they were famous for their song and dance routines. I’d never even heard of O-Town before this. New Kids on the Block was the boy band of my childhood, and during my teenage years I was too busy proving what a hardcore punk rocker I was to be caught dead listening to Backstreet Boys or N’SYNC, so while I’ve known of them as boy band kids for a while, it didn’t affect how I saw them. I’m more used to Joey Fatone as the humorous host from Food Network, and the first time I’d even thought about the Backstreet Boys in ages was their part in This is the End. A lot of people that watched this were upset because there was no dance number (fair warning), but it didn’t occur to me that there should have been until I heard others complain about it. I don’t know that this for sure affected my enjoyment of Dead 7, but just in case, I figured I’d give it a mention.

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{Don’t lie, you liked this part too}

Despite the myriad amount of problems, I really enjoyed Dead 7, and while I don’t think I’d pay more than a few bucks if I was going to own it, it’s one I could watch again if given the chance. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to buy a Backstreet Boys cd so Bye, Bye, Bye.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Danny Roew (Shotgun Wedding, Big Brother)

Starring: A Whole Mess of Boy Band Members As Noted Above

Written By: Nick Carter and Sawyer Perry

Released By: The Asylum and ScFy Channel

Release Year: 2016

Release Type: SyFy Channel Television Release

MPAA Rating: TV 14

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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