Written by: Dale Gelineau
Directed by: Kevin Tenney
Starring: Joshua Benton, Sarah Grant Brendecke, David Crane, and Andy Forrest
Reviewed by: Brett G.
“We’re not trespassers…we’re the fucking menu!”
Kevin S. Tenney might not be among the titans of horror directors, but most fans will give him his due for creating some pretty fun films during the late 80s and 90s. He’s most famous for Night of the Demons, but films like Witchboard and Witchtrap also help him land on a discerning horror fan’s radar. It’s been a while since Tenney has graced the world with a horror offering, but he’s back with the release of Brain Dead, an undead horror comedy that’s coming to home video courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures.
When a meteorite crashes on earth, it carries a vicious extra-terrestrial parasite that takes host in human bodies. The first victim is a fisherman who becomes infected, which promptly makes him crave the brains of his fishing buddy. He then takes off and wanders the surrounding areas, infecting those he comes into contact with; meanwhile, six random strangers eventually converge at a cabin in the woods. They’ll all have to cooperate and work together if they’re going to fend off the brain hungry infected that have decided to take siege on the area.
Brain Dead is exactly what the title suggests: a vapid experience that’s devoid of any sort of intellect…and I don’t think Tenney would have it any other way. Imagine if Troma produced a bizarre mash-up of Night of the Creeps and Night of the Living Dead, and you have Brain Dead. It’s an exercise in bad taste, gore, and ample nudity, which means it doesn’t aim much lower than the films that made Tenney so famous in the first place. Indeed, the director splashes grue and naked bodies all over the screen in this 90 minute romp. By no means is it a good movie, but Brain Dead is just fun and gory enough to keep your attention for most of its running time.
The sequences of gore are no doubt the highlight of this one. Despite the film’s low budget, the effects manage to impress, as bodies are torn apart in a variety of ways. Characters’ heads are especially unfortunate targets, as they’re split apart and even blown up at various points in the film. They’re cheap gags, but fans of gore will have a good time with them, but don’t expect much else in the way of horror--suspense is minimal and any dread atmosphere is nonexistent because the film keeps its tongue in cheek the entire way. The other part of the drive-in equation is of course the bouncing boobies and bush that fill the screen early and often, as simply being in a horror movie seems to be reason enough for girls to get naked. I have a feeling few will complain about this.
Of course, any review that talks more about the naked flesh of its female stars more so than their acting probably sets off some alarms, and you’ve probably guessed right about this one. The acting is pretty poor all the way around, though the zany cast of characters can be fun. There’s just about everything here: a televangelist and his busty secretary, a couple of convicts, a lesbian hiker, and even Jim Wynorski as the town sheriff. The film occasionally shows signs of wit and genuine humor (mostly involving the aforementioned televangelist), but it’s mostly just campy, over-the-top stuff (for example, one upskirt shot goes from rousing to disgusting in a matter of seconds). Everything else about the film also screams low budget and independent; Tenney obviously knows his way around the camera, but the shoestring budget keeps this one Z-grade through and through.
Brain Dead isn’t exactly a resounding success or return to glory for Tenney, but it’s a reminder that he’s capable of making some fun films if given the chance. He sticks to a boobs and blood formula that’s worked well enough for decades past, and it’ll likely be one that’s reused as long as audiences crave buxom babes and disgusting gore. Breaking Glass will be brining this one home on October 5th through their Vicious Circle Films label. The disc will feature the usual anamorphic widescreen transfer, a 5.1 surround track, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and a making-of documentary. Fans of low-grade schlock should check it out. Rent it!
For more information, please visit the Breaking Glass website.
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