Gratuitous T & A? Check. A surplus of toilet humor? Check. A Mr. Miyagi with a penchant for sex toys? (Huh?!) Check.
A different kind of zombie comedy? Check!
This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of seeing Gary King’s Death of the Dead, starring the super talented Christina Rose as Wanda, a clumsy nerd who goes from wimp to wow over the course of an hour and a half when a mysterious black ooze turns a busload of evil ninja trainees into ninja zombies that wreak havoc on a small town.
When you watch the trailer, you know what to expect…but not quite! This film pushes envelopes that haven’t even been stuffed and sealed yet, and that’s saying something. Death of the Dead is a fusion of Scary Movie spoof films with the more brainy zomb-coms like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, yet also lends itself to a more serious lesson by the end: Believe in oneself and one’s abilities…with a little help from Ghetto Sensei’s magic belt, of course!
Death of the Dead is a far more farcical look at the zombie comedy as a genre. Early on in the film, for instance, during a bus accident when all the evil ninjas are being bounced from side to side and seat to seat, we also see a boom operator being knocked about as well. (Probably funny to just about every filmmaker in the house that night!) And where some of the low-end CGI and the deviation from the traditional zombie mythos––at times, the zombies are sluggish, other times in fast forward; some are brain-dead while others can engage in entire conversations––might not fly in other movies, it soars here and becomes part of the film’s flippant charm.
Beneath the outrageous comedy, there seems to be a lot of homage paid to the Kill Bill (and other martial arts) movies in terms of the look and feel of Death of the Dead, even right down to the score. But there’s also something very “Kingian” in the way the overall action of the film is directed (based on what I’d noticed while watching Gary’s other film What’s Up Lovely), not only in terms of the splendid fight choreography, but in the way the camera appears to work with the viewer to make the film’s story stand apart from all the other coming of age tales in theaters and on Netflix.
Overall, I have to say that I was thoroughly entertained by Gary King’s Death of the Dead. From the opening scenes of “wimpy Wanda” being pushed around and farted on to when she’s swinging a pair of zombie balls around like nunchucks wearing a red-hot uniform that puts Halle Berry’s Catwoman costume to shame, Death of the Dead is an action-packed zombie romp with a much deeper message under the surface, and a bright red stripe on Gary King’s black belt as a director.