- Published on Amazon.com
I have to admit that I'm growing kind of tired of the glut of DTV zombie comedy films that have been popping up lately, but when I learned that director Kevin S. Tenney (WITCHBOARD - 1986; NIGHT OF THE DEMONS - 1988; PEACEMAKER - 1990) was responsible for this, I just had to give it a view and I'm glad to report that it's pretty good. A small meteor embeds itself into the head of a fly fisherman in some backwoods burg, instantly turning him into a brain-hungry zombie (the first thing he does is stick his thumbs through his buddy's eyes and tear his head in two, a nifty effect that is about as gory as anything you have ever seen). We are then introduced to the usual bunch of oddball characters, including wisecracking Clarence Singer (Joshua Benton), a local man arrested for a traffic offence, who is handcuffed to violent criminal Bob Jules (David Crane), just as Bob blows off a deputy's head with a shotgun (another uber-gory effect) and escapes from custody; the lecherous Reverend Farnsworth (Andy Forrest) and his horny female secretary Amy (Cristina Tiberia); and lost hikers Claudia Bush (Michelle Tomlinson), a lesbian, and big-busted Sherry Morgan (Sarah Grant Brendeke), as they all converge on an abandoned fishing lodge deep in the woods. As you can probably guess, they all soon come under attack by a couple of alien zombies, who spread their infection not by the normal bite, but by expelling a black slimy liquid out of their mouths and onto the heads of their victims. The dumb-as-a-post and ultra-violent Bob holds everyone hostage, even after witnessing one of the zombies putting his fist through the head of nosy female park ranger Sydney (Tess McVicker), which just adds to the difficulty level of survival for everyone involved. It's not long before our unlucky six fish-out-of-water begin getting gorily killed or infected, beginning with Amy and Bob. It turns out that the big-busted Sherry is not a bimbo at all, but rather a brainiac, as she correctly deduces that the black ooze is an alien organism that attaches itself to the brain, slowly eating it's host's brain until it craves more cerebral tissue. When Clarence and Sherry make an important discovery in the lodge's basement, it becomes apparent that the alien organism is very intelligent. Maybe too intelligent for our meager human brains to understand. Though a little too flippant for it's own good (Dale Gelineau's screenplay offers so many witty remarks from Clarence [he acts like a less-educated Dennis Miller], you'll want to punch him in the face to shut him up), BRAIN DEAD delivers so much gore and nudity (there's so much full frontal female nudity in the first twenty minutes, you'll think you died and gone to Nudist Heaven!), you'll forgive some of the cringe-worthy dialogue (although I did have a good laugh at Bob's recollection of having a near-death experience on the electric chair and, ever since that day, he can't keep his hair flat!). Director Kevin S. Tenney makes the most out of special makeup effects master Gabe Bartalos' gory makeup effects, never pulling away from the money shots and really delivering the bloody goods, offering decapitations (too many to keep track of) and other head violence, arms hacked or blown off and one zombie being cut in two with a shotgun. The majority of the effects are refreshingly the practical kind, although CGI is employed on a few scenes (including a long shot of the after-effects of Sydney's head-punching). There are a few standout funny sequences, such as Amy being infected by the alien, but since she's such an airhead, the organism bypasses her brain and hides in her uterus instead (!), so when she comes back to the lodge seemingly unharmed, the black ooze shoots out of her vagina and attaches itself to lesbian Claudia's face (a fitting choice). After tossing Claudia face-first into a roaring fireplace, Clarence turns to Sherry and asks, "What kind of amoeba is that?" to which Sherry replies, "A Trojan amoeba? How the Christ do I know?" Tenney also gives the film a funny framing device and offers an unapologetically downbeat, yet sarcastically fitting, finale. You can do a lot worse than this low-budget horror comedy and, God knows, I certainly have. Also starring Locky Lambert, Chad Martin Guerrero, Greg Lewolt and low-budget auteur Jim Wynorski (CHOPPING MALL - 1986; SORCERESS - 1994) as Sheriff Bodine, who has a severe hard-on for Clarence and his family. Unrated.