It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born. For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, and 2014. Merciless Monday The Dead 2: India (2014) Writers/Directors: Howard J. Ford & Jonathan Ford Back in 2012, I reviewed The Dead (2010) and found it to be a nice little film with a strong opening, a strong ending, and very little in between. In fact, the middle section was so boring, I hesitate to even recommend it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s well-made. When it comes to low-budget zombie films, it’s definitely one of the better examples. It’s just dreadfully dull. Now, four years after the release of The Dead, the Ford Brothers return with a sequel set in India this time. The film, titled The Dead 2: India, is about as inventive and exciting as its name. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just as nicely shot as the first film, utilizing the land and cityscapes of India to create a strong visual work that stands out from the majority of zombie films. If it only had a script to match its vision, it could be a classic. Instead, we get cliché piled on cliché as our main generic white character tries to cross 300 miles of desert to get to his pregnant Indian girlfriend with the help of an orphaned street kid who knows every inch of India like the back of his hand. Seriously. Unlike the first film, The Dead 2: India doesn’t even have the strong beginning and ending. Instead, it’s all slow, obvious travelogue as Generic Dude and Orphan Boy try to avoid slow-moving zombies who love to loiter next to roads and trails. There are no twists. There are no surprises. It’s just a lot of lovely scenery and a never-ending supply of bullets. If there are any strengths to the film, it’s in the fact that there’s a neat paragliding scene — which is something I’ve never seen in a zombie film before — and there’s one moment where Generic Dude gets real and does something way too hard-core for his character. We also get a bit of Indian folklore and a weak attempt to find some sort of resonance in the bleak ending. It’s always a risk for a low-budget zombie film to try the deathly serious route. It’s easier to have fun with your concept and play up the gore and weaknesses intentionally as part of the tone. When you go full-on drama, you immediately have a number of hurdles to overcome that are strictly related to your script and your performers — serious hurdles to which a low budget doesn’t do any favors. It’s a noble effort, but very difficult to pull off. There’s really not a lot here to even talk about, although to be fair, the Ford Brothers do as much as they can with little money. The effects are solid low-budget work with more than a few nice gore effects — but nothing that’s going to blow you away. If you want to watch a white guy motor across India shooting people in the head with barely a pause, then maybe you’ll get something out of this one. I’m really extremely surprised, to be honest. The reviews of this one weren’t bad, but nothing prepared me for the tedium that was The Dead 2: India. Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard (2015) Director: Harrison Smith Writers: David Agnew Penn, Harrison Smith This film is called Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard and features Dee Wallace and Billy Zane in spotlight roles. Wallace is the dying mother of a young man who really can’t act, and Billy Zane is the war hero trainer of a group of young adrenaline junkies who call themselves the Zombie Killers. Their job is to protect the small rural town of Elwood from the encroaching zombie hordes. Oh yeah. And it looks like fracking is the source of the zombie plague. This has all the makings of an action-packed fun evening of zombie mayhem with a dash of social consciousness, right? Wrong. It’s very nearly as boring as The Dead 2: India, only at least the script tries to inject some imagination into the story. Sure, that imagination comes in the form of a herd of CG zombie deer, a school of CG zombie fish, a puppet that is either supposed to be a wolf or a boar — it’s really not clear — and a massive wave of zombies heading for Elwood. Wallace does a good job with what she’s given. I’m pretty sure she was just flown in for a day, maybe two, collected her check and went on her merry way, but she’s still a bright spot. Zane attacks his role with gusto and has a lot of fun with it. There’s just not much there to begin with, despite how inventive it sounds. Ultimately, this is a film that has no real idea what it wants to do. It begins as dull and serious as The Dead 2: India, but quickly shifts gears as Zane injects energy into every scene he’s in. This could be a case of Zane just taking over and doing whatever he wants, but in this case, it improves the material and gives a glimpse of what the film could be. And it could be a lot of fun. Instead there’s a lot of heavy-handed mock-nihilism and cliches. We also get some forced romantic rivalry between some of the characters whose names aren’t important; Brian Anthony Wilson delivers some melodramatic monologues and voiceovers that really seem to be meant for another film; there’s a crazy Christian subplot that goes nowhere; there’s a weird pregnancy subplot that also goes nowhere; one guy apparently killed his first wife, but there’s no real story and it has no impact on anything happening in the present; and apparently the zombies are caused by an ancient bacteria that wiped out the dinosaurs? I’ll be honest, I may have that last bit wrong because I was so bored I may have dozed off for a few minutes. But it doesn’t really matter, because it’s a plot point that doesn’t amount to much except to set up a potential sequel. Instead, a giant herd of millions of zombies are heading toward the town (which is the explanation for the “Elephant’s Graveyard” reference, somehow), which causes another tonal shift as the Zombie Killers prepare to deal with the threat while the civilians decide to kill everyone as an act of mercy (??). This wouldn’t be a horrible way to end it, but the director can’t decided whether to treat it seriously or to make a joke of it — the outhouse murder in particular is jarring, as it’s neither funny or frightening. And then, in the end, a mysterious group of mercenaries arrive from nowhere in a helicopter with another seemingly endless supply of bullets, and rescue the three or four characters that almost have distinctive enough personalities to make us care. Which leads us to that ending that seems to be promising a sequel that nobody in their right mind could really be asking for. The only actor without Wallace or Zane in their name who is worth paying attention to is Gabrielle Stone as Nikki Slater. She plays a nurse who is also the love interest to the main character, Ian (Michael Kean), and simply acts rings around all the other performers (whose names aren’t Wallace or Zane). She’s the only actor in the main cast who finds a way to deliver horrible lines in a way that doesn’t sound like she just memorized them before shooting started. Oh yeah. Mischa Barton is in this too. I don’t know who she is, but she gets top billing for doing pretty much nothing for the entire film. If the filmmakers really wanted to make Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard something special, they should have just kept the camera on Billy Zane the whole time and let Stone interact with him on occasion. This is not an auspicious second day for the 2015 Easter Zombie Movie Marathon. It was our first day of feature length films and they both fell far short of even being entertaining. Hopefully tomorrow’s line-up, Zombie Hunter Rika and Survival of the Dead, will at least keep our interest. Hopefully. EZMM 2015 Day 2: The Dead 2: India (2014) & Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard (2015)The Dead 2: IndiaZombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard2.3Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response EZMM 2015 Day 5: The Dead and the Damned 1 & 2 (2011 & 2014) - Psycho Drive-In April 3, 2015 […] of genre. This is both a benefit and a drawback (as I mentioned earlier this week in my review of The Dead 2: India) when we’re dealing with inexperienced actors and no […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.