13 Eerie (2013), directed by Lowell Dean (Wolfcop (2014)), is about a small class of forensic students on an island where their teacher has set up a small body farm for an exam. The film opens with the students traveling via boat and then a bus as the corpses are set up by their teacher, Tomkins, played by Michael Shanks. Shanks is a hard-working career actor with regular TV roles on several shows: Andromeda, Smallville, quite a few Stargate series, and that’s just his genre work, the most current of which is Altered Carbon. He plays his character here by the book with a side of denial. While setting up bodies he finds a strange black substance, which I now realize I have no idea what it does except eat through a couple of walkie talkies later. Helping him set up is Captain Veneziano (Lyndon Bray) who assuages him that everything is safe. Bray played in Super Hybrid (2010) and has a part in Dean’s first Wolfcop.

While setting up equipment, the local yokel, Daniel, played by Brendan Fehr, spills some of the black substance. Fehr too is a career actor with regular roles as far back as Millennium (1998-1999), Roswell (1999-2002), and comparatively more recently Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and much, much more. His death scene is the best in the movie.

The Scooby Gang of students fleshes out as we go along, and each and every actor is worth mentioning. There seem to be more corpses than the teacher set up, but the students brush it off as a surprise quiz. The rest of the And-Then-There-None plot can be guessed. The cast is an amazing collection of career actors worthy of writing up before we get to the meat.

Kate is played by Kristie Patterson, with stunt credits in other works as well as regular parts on the series, Corner Gas. Josh is played by Brendan Fletcher with credits going as far back as Goosebumps (1996) and regular roles on iZombie (2017) and Arrow (2018). He is currently filming something called Attack of the Killer Chickens the Movie, and now I just want to go find that. Larry Jefferson is played by Nick Moran who has starred in at least three works a year since 1999, whether shorts, TV shows or movies, including Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). Patrick is played by Jesse Moss whose acting list looks like he is over-experienced for any job, but which includes Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), Extraterrestrial (2014) and a bit part on Dean’s Wolfcop as well. Rob is played by Michael Eisner with credits in shorts, TV series and movies, including a part in the TV series Sanctuary (2008) and the lead role in and interesting looking feature called The Night Man (2012).

I saved the best for last. Katharine Isabelle plays Megan, the blonde who doe-eyes the teacher in the beginning, but as the zombies begin attacking, becomes an energetic tour-de-force, showing the most resilience and the most arc of any other character. And no wonder. She’s been acting since I was a sophomore in college with parts in one sometimes two episodes of the following: The Ray Bradbury Theater (1992), Goosebumps (1996), The X-Files (1998), Night Visions (2001), The Outer Limits (2002), Stargate SG-1 (2006), Supernatural (2007), Sanctuary (2008); parts in the following movies: Ginger Snaps (2000) (and the two sequels), Freddy vs. Jason (2003); and a regular role on Hannibal (2014-15); and that’s just her genre work. I’m always amazed that some of these Canadian productions are filled with veteran actors, and her resume is more impressive than the usual. There is also quite a bit of interconnectedness too with actors having worked together before in Stargate SG-1, Goosebumps, Sanctuary, Freddy vs. Jason and Ginger Snaps.

The gore scenes are a great combination of Italian zombie gore shot without the unrealistic camp, which is a feat well done here. Tracy George is the makeup department head, and Emersen Ziffle is the key makeup effects artist. George has the credits as department head, and Ziffle the makeup effects credits, but they seem to be a bit of a team with the exact same credits under several titles. Canada’s got all the good stuff. Somewhere down that resume rabbit hole I saw Space Milkshake (2012), which didn’t have a milkshake but apparently has a mutating rubber duck.

I thought this was going to be a shot-with-available-light movie, all day-time, but once it gets dark the cinematography excels with some nice noir-horror work from Mark Dobrescu who has shot quite a bit, including the TV movies Snakehead Terror (2004) and Android Apocalypse (2006), which makes me want to move to Canada for the TV movies.

The film was produced by Minds Eye Entertainment and Don Carmody Productions, whose most notable work includes Orphan (2009) and Goon (2011), which unfortunately is not an adaptation of Eric Powell’s comic by the same title.

13 Eerie is not a bad film, but it suffers like some of the mid-range Westerns must have suffered right before Mel Brooks and Blazing Saddles (1974) parodied that overwhelming genre to death or so the movie myth goes. If there weren’t as many modern zombie films and TV shows as there are, 13 Eerie would be in the top half, but there are way too many zombie films and TV shows. Is The Walking Dead still actually on?

Spoilers in this paragraph. It’s certainly not a perfect picture. To continue the plot description—it’s zombie attack by-the-numbers which we’ve seen before except for a few original aforementioned bits. The backstory of the island formerly being a prison where the prisoners were experimented on doesn’t really play that much into the plot. The characters make some really stupid decisions. The teacher Tomkins is the loud get-to-work type who doesn’t see anything coming; Patrick is the denier, gaslighting those who think they see somebody; Daniel might be country or Cajun. Sometimes the characters just yell at each other. And big spoiler—it doesn’t end. It actually freezeframes with several survivors and at least one still-living zombie.

I don’t, however, regret watching it, but I’m not sure I would watch it again. Dean’s sophomore effort, Wolfcop, far surpasses this freshman effort, which is vastly different in its attitude, possibly because it was written and directed by Dean.

For more on Dean’s work here on Psycho Drive-In check out these pieces by Dan Lee and Scott Delahunt.

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