Friday, February 26, 2010

The Dead Next Door (1989)

Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 1/5

The Netflix sleeve boasts that this is the most expensive 8MM zombie film ever shot on camera. I'm guessing they are referring to the effects and copious amounts of Karo syrup that at times rivals the epic-ness of Dead Alive. Certainly, there is enough gore here to keep the hounds happy. But its the never ending strings of self-referencing that really wears on you and drives you completely batty about midway through. And the films running time is only an hour and twenty minutes.

We begin our film with a requisite zombie horde sweeping through an east coast town. They attack people left and right and even head to the local video store to do some research. This concept alone made me laugh out loud and I thought it was hysterical and brilliant. Zombies. Stopping at a mom and pop video store. To do research. On how to be zombies? Hi-larry-ous!

A group of exterminators called the Zombie Squad arrive into town and start going house to house. Its here where our initially amusing self-referential names of famous horror types is welcomed (Officer Raimi, Commander Carpenter, etc.). They take care of one person's pest control problem and learn about a doctor in town who's experimenting with different types of serums that will hopefully cure the infected.

Talking to the doctor (who's name is Savini), they learn that there is another doctor in Ohio who has been working on another serum, purported to be much stronger and more effective than his. So the Zombie Squad head out in their zomobile (which has a painted cardboard emblem adorning the side) to Ohio. After getting into town and talking to the doctor, they find out from a kid who's begun hanging around them that the local pastor has a special place in his heart for zombies. Only he's not really a pastor but a leader of a cult who believes that zombies are special avengers sent to carry out God's will!

So as the zom squad hold off the pastor and his captive zombies (he keeps them and sacrifices people to 'appease' them), the doctor finishes his revolutionary serum. And just before he announces the 'secret' for how to properly inject the infected to the doc back on the east coast via phone, he succumbs to a hungry horde of the living dead.

Some great practical effects on display here and as mentioned, a lot of splatterific-ness to make the goriest of gore hounds happy. But the dialogue gets really old and grating with the continual self-referencing. And after about an hour, you begin to look at your watch. For a film thats not even an hour and a half, thats not a good thing.

Cortez the Killer

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Emily said...

This is one that was definitely more fun as a child in the '80s. Looking back, it's easy to see why it was a blast then: zombie comedies weren't nearly as common, and the humor felt like a reward for those genre fans. Nowadays, it just feels like every straight-to-DVD zomedy out there, but way past its expiration date.

Still, I like the spin of the zombie protesters and rewatching it a few years back, I did find myself laughing at some of the lines ("DOn't worry about me. I'm a zombie now.")

As far as the budget goes, I believe this was infamously co-produced by Sam Raimi, although for legal reasons, he couldn't be credited. You can tell Bookwater (sic?) was a fan. Not a terrible time to waste 90 minutes, but one that didn't really survive its day.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I admire this little movie for having the balls to do something with so little money.

The technical faults sometimes piss me off, dialog is sometimes not audible, and the editing sometimes gets on my nerves as well.

But its a testament to those people who love movies so much they are willing to go out there and just make them! No matter what the odds!

I put it in the same category as Leif Jonkers Darkness (seen that one?) and The Deadly Spawn.

Cortez The Killer said...

@Emily, certainly worse films out there that you can waste 90 minutes with. This one escaped me during the 80's for whatever reason. It definitely has its moments. I had no idea Raimi was involved. Many a scene reminded my of his style and now it all makes sense.

@TFC, I appreciate the technical faults and to me, its just a charm of indie horror. My gripe is the self-referencing that went on ad nauseum. I GET IT! Dr. Savini, Officer Raimi, get over it!

Its funny that you mention Darkness. I saw that after I watched this. I'll be posting my review soon. But its similar in that it drags after becoming a one trick pony.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Darkness is a bit superior to me, it has its moments. I loved that scene where the vamps eat a dude in a car wash.

And what an ending Darkness has! So gory! I never thought that little movie would go that far in goriness, I thought they would have run out of budget by then but not, apparently, they saved the best for last.

Chris Hallock said...

I appreciate this as the little horror film that could. Super 8mm is TOUGH and expensive as hell.

I also love how the whole town got involved in the making.

Did you watch the documentaries, CtK?

Cortez The Killer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cortez The Killer said...

@Chris, ah your right. When I read the sleeve, it said 8mm and not super 8mm. I thought it referred to regular 8mm but now that I think about it, that doesn't make sense. I think regular 8mm was for home movies and super 8mm for filmmakers.

Unfortunately, the interviews were apart of disc II and that didn't come with my Netflix rental. It comes on the cheap and I just might go out and buy it (yes, even though I have faults with it, its still a worthy addition to any horror nuts collection). That's awesome that the whole town got behind it.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Im with Franco, you have to admire the film for all of its attempts, and they went balls out crazy in terms of scale, making it truly appear as if Ohio were overrun by zombies ($5 zombies). After the first third though the film just falls apart, and I have trouble staying awake every time. The gore surely is amazing though!

Geof said...

After finally finding this in the mid 90's at 10,000 Movies (that old video store chain), I have only watched it through the end once in my three or four attempts to watch it again. Took em a long time to find it back then, but I needed to see it after learning of Sam Raimi's support.

While I also have to echo the praise for the crew working with a low budget to make this film, it gets real slow about midway when they meet up with the cult. Too bad because it opens STRONG. That scene you mentioned in the video store always sticks in my head. The ending's little "twist" is kinda funny but not worth enduring the whole thing. However it's a nice and different way to end a zombie film though.