Mike (Michael McKiddy) ambles into consciousness one evening, shocked and dismayed to discover that zombies roam freely around him.
One such ghoul, the wise-cracking Brent (Ross Kidder), leaps out at Mike and gives chase. But far from wanting to munch on the bespectacled youth’s innards, Brent simply wants to befriend him. See, what Mike doesn’t realise and takes some convincing about, is that he too is a member of the living dead community.
It’s only when Mike’s arm falls off during a spot of playful banter that he begins to believe he may also be a zombie. Of course, this may well explain why the surrounding gut-munchers have no interest in either him or Brent.
Elsewhere, a group of human survivors (we’re told a ‘chemical leak’ is responsible for the undead phenomenon) hole themselves up in a local bar. They’re led by strong, confident black man Thomas (Thomas Galasso). Under his guidance, the idea is to barricade themselves in overnight and fend off the swarm of living dead outside until morning comes, when they will surely be saved by a rescue committee. You know, just like in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD ...
Happening to stumble past this scene, Mike and Brent are hauled into the bar in the mistaken belief that they are also human survivors. They are amazingly coherent considering their condition, after all. Bemused, they pitch in with the others, helping to reinforce the pub’s windows and doors. However they soon get rumbled when Brent accidentally kills a kid ... and Mike’s arm falls off once again.
Chased out of the bar, the pair skulk off into the night with Brent’s newly acquired zombie pal, the seriously decaying Cheese (Markus Taylor), in tow. Flagging down friendly old widower Cliff (Harry Burkey), the trio blag a lift in his truck and manage to stay one step ahead of the mysterious government types who are following them.
This allows Mike time to get to grips with the fact that he’s been dead for three years without realising it, and affords him the opportunity to reflect on the events that led to his relationship with the beloved Emily (Eden Malyn) breaking up ... and what he needs to do to get her back.
And so, a bizarre and frequently comical road trip ensues. Even when Mike’s confidence falters due to his improving memories and worsening skin complexion, Brent resolves that – as the true friend that he’s determined to be – he must get Mike to Emily no matter what, if only so that they can declare their love one last time and then part ways forever.
But, will these boys complete their trip and get to confront Emily ... or will the government bodies, led by Emily’s dad and now aided by the kick-ass Thomas, get to them first?
Co-written and co-directed by brothers Brett and Drew T Pierce (sons of THE EVIL DEAD’s FX photographer Bart Pierce), DEADHEADS is an affable zombie comedy – must I really use the phrase ‘zomedy’? – with a romantic thread at heart.
McKiddy and Kidder are likeable leads, both infused with satisfying amounts of energy and sound comic timing. The gags admittedly range from the puerile to the slapstick (the running joke concerning Mike’s unstable upper limb wears thin) to slightly more sophisticated one-liners, and knowing nods to genre faves such as THE EVIL DEAD, Romero’s classic trilogy, THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE and even ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST.
But DEADHEADS isn’t just some empty-brained homage. It’s an off-the-wall comic caper which possesses a huge heap of Spielberg-type soppiness at its core. To this end, Devin Burrows’ twee score may grate for some; it signposts moments of comedy and pathos rather too heavily (think ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’s unnecessary musical interludes).
These are minor negatives though in an otherwise engaging romp. I enjoyed DEADHEADS. The gore is minor but relatively well done and the FX – chiefly down to Patrick Halpin – are largely free from CGI interference. And, just when you’re thinking this stream of jokes isn’t going to sustain a feature running time, there are just enough ideas in the film’s second half (the enjoyably silly riff on 80s Brat Pack party scenes, for example) to keep things entertaining.
I even didn’t mind the usually cringe-inducing outtakes being played out under a radio friendly rock song over the end titles.
The screener disc made available to review by G2 Pictures was a basic affair, offering only the film.
However, the main feature looked very good here. The film was presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and 16x9 enhanced, in what seems to be a fully uncensored version.
Colours were rich and natural-looking, while blacks remained stable throughout and detail was pleasing for the duration.
Likewise, the English audio track provided proffered a solid 2.0 playback.
No doubt the retail release of the film will offer extra features of some description.
DEADHEADS is a fun, amiable if slightly toothless zombie comedy. It serves up gags galore, some decent old-school gore and a bromance thread unlike any seen before it. Just beware the high levels of sentimentality towards the end.
Also available on blu-ray.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by G2 Pictures|
|Region 2 PAL|
|see main review|