Review: Dead Heads (15) /Directed and written by the Pierce Brothers / Starring: Michael McKiddy, Ross Kidder, Markus Taylor, Thomas Galasso, Natalie Victoria / Release date: Out Now
Another year, another tide of low-budget straight-to-DVD zombie movies. Oh well. First off the blocks in 2012 comes Dead Heads, a comedy zombie horror, falling broadly into the ‘zomromcom’ category created by and for the brilliant Shaun of the Dead, written and directed by the Pierce Brothers, sons of one of the FX bods from The Evil Dead. But rest assured that whilst this is no SotD at least it manages to be a cut above many of the dreadful catchpenny zombie titles which clutter up the shelves, stinking the place out like rotting flesh.
This is supposed to be a comedy, remember, so the premise is a barrel of laughs. Mike and Brent, two amiable slackers, wake up during what’s clearly a fairly localised and low-key zombie outbreak, to find that they’re actually dead. They’re zombies. But they’re not groaning, shuffling, flesh-eating zombies; they’re thinking sentient beings with all their memories and thought processes intact, even if their flesh is veiny, bloody and discoloured and Mike’s arm has a tendency to fall off. Much hilarity and prat-falling (signposted by quirky music just so we know it’s supposed to funny) as the two stumble about avoiding other zombies and being shot by men with guns. Fifteen minutes in and you may be tempted to press ‘eject’ and look for something less aimless to do but hang in there because Dead Heads is just about worth sticking with as it settles down and develops into a bit of an unconventional road movie. Mike (McKiddy), who realises he’s been dead for three years - shot in the head - discovers a ring in his pocket and remembers the girlfriend he was clearly about to get engaged to, so he and loudmouth Brent (Kidder) set off to try and find her so they can be reunited. They team up with a tame dumb zombie they nick-name Cheese (Taylor) and hitch a ride with Cliff (Harry Burkey) who’s off to scatter his late wife’s ashes. Meanwhile we discover a bit more about the zombie outbreak and its cause, and the luckless undead pair are pursued by a couple of macho zombie killers and the scientist whose experiments caused the outbreak in the first place.
For a low-budget indie zombie flick Dead Heads is a fairly slick experience. Whilst the script’s humour is more tiresome than hilarious, the Pierce Brothers have managed to give their characters a decent amount of flesh on their rotting bones so at least they come across a bit like real(ish) people rather than zombie fodder and there’s a couple of quite touching moments where Mike mourns his lost love and Cliff finally arrives at the beach to say farewell to the remains of his wife. Elsewhere this is broad, brash, knockabout stuff, packed with typically unsubtle performances and a few splashes of gore here and there. The movie covers a lot of fairly haphazard ground across its 92 minute running time and only finally loses the plot towards the end when an already rather silly idea just gets too ridiculous and comedic for its own good. But Dead Heads is affable enough stuff, well directed and with a fairly unique style which sets it apart from the slew of other cheap shlocky zombie horrors which are surely just around the corner.
Special features: Trailer