Derek O'Brien's Horror Movie Review: Dead World (2008)

There was a period in 1980s horror that I distinctly remember, for introducing young, pre-teen protagonists: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 2, MONSTER SQUAD, THE LOST BOYS, FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH PART 4, GOONIES (Okay, that last one’s a stretch to call horror, but Sloth was pretty scary…). It was probably just an attempt to appeal to the younger crowd sneaking into the back of the movie houses, though at the time I hated it, probably because seeing youngsters in the movie meant it was less likely that I’d be seeing tits. There, I said it.

Now, I can better appreciate having a young protagonist in a horror movie. For one thing, younger people evoke a stronger empathic response in the audience. For another, they can more realistically make stupid mistakes, and their relative size and lack of strength can make them more vulnerable to attack.

Richard Kruger is an author of several horror novels, as well as an amateur filmmaker, and in 2008 wrote, directed, and provided the special effects for a low-budget movie called DEAD WORLD. Said to be the first in a trilogy of the Zombie Chronicles (nothing to do with Marvin Suarez’s work ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED), DEAD WORLD details a child’s efforts to survive the zombie apocalypse. Or so the synopsis says. The results were somewhat… lacking…

Molly in one scene ...

DEAD WORLD opens with a child’s voiceover, narrating how an infection quickly spread through the world, bringing down civilization as it raised the dead, while we see a series of monochrome stills, some set up, others stock (and at least one I’m certain is from a real-life mass grave, the use of which I found jarring and distasteful). The child’s voice is also lost at times to the music blaring in the background. I’ll be getting back to the music shortly.

Set in and around Rohnert Park, California (where Richard Kruger lives, according to his MySpace page), the story centers around a young girl, played by Molly Kruger (Mr. Kruger’s daughter, who reminds me of child actress Kim Richards from ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. Sadly Molly doesn’t possess Kim’s acting chops); the character’s name is also Molly, but we don’t learn this until much later in the film. Daddy (Mr. Kruger himself) kisses his sleeping daughter goodbye while he drives off for a job interview, leaving her in the care of her grandmother (Emily McKee), who’s watching the news about the growing zombie plague. Yes, because if all that was happening, I’d want to leave my kid to drive off for an overnight job interview. But he doesn’t get far before he’s spitting blood, obviously infected. Meanwhile, a homeless man (Shawn Bernardo) is living in a tent in the wilderness, killing zombies and understandably feeling depressed over what he’s hearing on the radio.

... and then in another scene. Hhmmm!!

Later in the day (or so I assume, something I ended up doing much of during the movie, given its incoherence), Molly returns from school, seeing bodies lying in the streets, giving them the same blank reaction my daughter does when I show her the empty carton of orange juice she put back in the refrigerator. From this point on Molly possesses an amazing power: the ability to change from a 10 year old to a 13/14 year old and back again from scene to scene. I know that low-budget filmmakers can often take months if not years to complete work, that kids do grow up quickly, and Kruger made some attempt to hide it, but it becomes too obvious to ignore in places. Molly comes home in time for a zombie to attack the house, getting Grandma and sending Molly on the run.

Man; I wish this was in 3D!!

What has been semi-coherent, not helped by the poor sound and editing, becomes tedium, as Molly follows the same pattern for a long time: she goes someplace – a building, a house, a park – gets attacked by one zombie (conveniently always just one), and barely escapes. And in every scene, the exact same frenetic music piece is played. What’s worse, it’s played regardless of the context of the scene, whether she’s being attacked or if she’s just walking around unthreatened. Eventually, Homeless Guy finds her, instructs her about what’s happening, gets bit when they return to Molly’s house to find Zombie Daddy feasting on Granny, and Molly shoots Homeless Guy. It could have ended there. It should have ended there. Instead we get forty fucking minutes more of Molly doing the same thing she was doing before, only now showing Ripley levels of resourcefulness and determination. The ending promises Part 2 Coming Soon. No thanks, Mr. Kruger…

This is what I look like most Saturday nights!!

The zombie makeup is minimal (and their numbers pitifully few), the gore effects nonexistent, the acting at the level you’d expect, the script skeletal with no emotional or dramatic arcs or developments. Are there positives? Yes: the opening narration, with the photos, is a nice setup, even if the rest of the movie fails to live up to the apocalyptic images presented. The use of a child as the central character is refreshing from the bimbos and twentysomething’s we usually get. Employing monochrome adds a little atmosphere (as well as covers a multitude of budgetary sins). And there are moments when Kruger manages to create scenes of genuine menace, such as when a zombie attacks Molly in a car, reaching in for her through the half-opened window. But overall the extreme budget limitations cripple what could have been an epic, sweeping story, or a short but more satisfying one, had Kruger confined his characters to an isolated place, and did more with the character of Molly than just have her wander and evade the undead. Kruger has written a novelization of the film (available on Amazon), and it would be interesting to see if it possesses any depth that the film lacks.

Derek’s Summary:

Director: Richard Kruger (also writer, and special effects artist)

Plot: 2 out of 5 stars (only because of the use of a child protagonist)

Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 2 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Derek O’Brien

Check out more on AnythingHorror.com’s new contributor DEREK “DEGGSY” O’BRIEN.  Click HERE

Meet AnythingHorror.com's New Contributor Derek "Deggsy" O'Brien!!

Meet my new regular contributor Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien!!

I don’t know if you can all feel it on your end, but things over here at AnythingHorror.com have gotten extremely busy in 2011!!  This little website I started a year and a half ago has really hit it’s stride and become hugely popular.  I’m getting tons of requests from both filmmakers and authors to watch/read their projects and review them, and I’ve also been bitten by the “filmmaker’s” bug something fierce.  Besides having my zombie novel DEAD HUNGER currently being looked at by two different publishers, I’m also continuing to write some short horror stories and preparing to dive into writing part 2 of DEAD HUNGER.  I’m also planning on writing a script of one of my short stories to hopefully film one day soon (all this PLUS maintaining a full time job and spending lots of time with my kids and wife!!).  The last thing I wanna do is turn down any of the indie filmmakers/authors … I know how hard it is to get some exposure!!

Enter Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien!!

Derek and I became friends through Twitter.  He started out following me and reading my rants on Twitter.  Then I noticed he would more and more leave comments about my reviews.  I noticed immediately that he was extremely knowledgable about the genre and had a great overview of it.  Plus Derek always made me laugh out loud with his funny comments and very hysterical interpretations.  So when it got to the point over here where I needed someone to regularly contribute reviews and general articles, I immediately thought of Derek.  You’ll also remember I have another frequent contributor, Buzz Saunders.  Buzz is and always will be welcome to contribute, but I also know Buzz just finished his schooling and is working his ass off getting his career off the ground.

So as a proper introduction, I asked Derek to write a short bio about himself.  Well that was a mistake … holy shit this guy loves talking about himself (I’m totally kidding)!!  So let me turn over the rest of this posting to Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien.  Welcome aboard Derek and I’m looking forward to reading your reviews and articles for a long time to come!!

———-

Who is Derek O’Brien? If you Google my name, you’ll find an Indian quiz show host, an Irish footballer, and a blues drummer in Texas. I have been all of these, but for tax purposes I am none of them. On Twitter I’m known as Deggsy, some British thing I’ve had to get used to, along with driving on the left hand side of the road and saying “wanker” a lot.

I grew up in Queens, New York, developing a love for monster and horror movies from an early age courtesy of Creature Features and Chiller Theatre, devouring Godzilla and Gamera movies, Hammer flicks and Universal classics like I did double pepperoni pizzas (still do, actually). My father could always beat me on trivia regarding ordinary westerns, war and gangster films, but I soon eclipsed him on the oeuvre of Bert I Gordon and Toho Studios.

My introduction to zombies came from WOR-TV’s Fright Night, when I was old enough to stay up past the midnight wrestling with Sergeant Slaughter and Hulk Hogan. Among such fare as DEATHDREAM, EQUINOX and TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST, my 12-year-old self viewed CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS. Somehow I glazed over the interminable first 60 minutes of it, and my heart raced with the zombies rising from the dead. This was not for children! And worst of all, no one survived, something I’d never seen a movie before! Such was its effect that I spent that summer keeping a kitchen knife under my mattress…

The next horror milestone in my life was at age 16, getting into a midnight showing of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD. Later on, I’d see the flaws in the makeup and pacing, but at the time, it was such a mind-blowing, epic experience, and one shared with like-minded  souls! It remains the benchmark by which zombie movies are judged by me, and though we’ve moved on to quicker, nastier undead, I still have a soft spot for the shambling ones…

Not much else happened to me after that. Left high school, joined the Air Force, became a nuclear weapons specialist (Minuteman III warheads a specialty. True, that.), did a tour of duty in Montana, left and joined my family in Ireland, married, divorced and moved across the sea to Manchester, England to be with friends and my future partner, a novelist, stand-up comic and Android phone geek known in Twitterville as @Daized. I also wrote a set of erotic novels under various pseudonyms.

As for the last, I’d always been writing, but never intended to get into that field, until I found I could write about nearly anything, so long as I included plenty of sex scenes LOL.  Now I’m working on a mainstream novel, MATTIE DUCAYNE & THE DEVIL IN THE MIST, a young adult novel about a teenage female Wild West gunslinger battling a shape shifting demon in Victorian London. I want it to be my antidote to the execrable TWILIGHT series and its pathetic teen heroine, would love for it to be the start of a series, and if Hollywood is looking for the next franchise after Harry Potter, they know where to find me…

Upcoming Horror Films & Stuff: TShirt Bordello’s New Designs; Ready for More Bigfoot Mayhem? Dear God No!; Piranha 3DD Wraps Up Production; & Megan Fox Wants to be Carrie!!

I’m gonna start with the “stuff” first!!  Earlier today I checked in with faithful anythinghorror.com reader and fan Don over at TShirt Bordello.  I know you all remember Don and his kickass site because a few months ago he sponsored my first ever writing contest giveaway.  Don, courtesy of TShirt Bordello, gave away a fantastic “Stolen From the Bates Motel” prize package.  Well when I spoke with Don earlier today he was really excited about some new t-shirt designs and asked me to pass them along to everyone.  Here’s three of his new t-shirt designs:

 

But in addition to his tshirtbordello.com site Don also runs the very cool http://888wuzdead.com website.  This is a really fun website that caters to all your undead needs, but it’s not selling the typical undead products.  Http://888wuzdead.com is the place to go when you need to call an undead uprising, need some experienced exterminators to come out and take care of that pesky undead problem, or if you just want to track any undead uprisings across the country.  This is a really fun site and I spent a long time on it looking around and having a lot of fun.

Http://888wuzdead.com isn’t done as a joke but is put together as a real company offering a real service.  It’s great!!  Be sure to check it and tshirtbordello.com out.

NEW BIGFOOT FLICK, DEAR GOD NO!:

After recently reading Eric S. Brown’s BIGFOOT WAR, that kinda got my juices flowing to see a great creature-destroying-shit film.  But now that SUPER 8 is kinda looking like an E.T. remake I was wondering if anything would come and save me.  Well it seems as though my prayers are answered!!  DEAR GOD NO! is written and directed by James Bickert and the entire project is made to transport you back to the age of drive-in theaters and grindhouse cinema.  Here’s the description on their Facebook Page:

When the blood begins to flow, who will be left to scream?

Grab some popcorn, gas up the jalopy and grab your favorite girl. Big World Pictures presents the retro Bikers vs. Bigfoot feature film DEAR GOD NO! A thrill ride here to save cinema by delivering all the carnival fun of a 1970’s drive-in movie. On the run from bikini clad machine gun fire, a group of outlaw bikers attempt to seek refuge in a mountain cabin only to fall victim to a crazed scientist and his hunchback assistant performing hideous experiments more deranged than the human mind can handle. What is lurking in the woods making escape impossible? Could it be the legendary… BIGFOOT! 

Yeah; you can guarantee I’ll be checking this one out!!  It sounds unnecessarily violent (a huge plus) and full of gratuitous nudity, sex, and gore (a huge HUGE plus).  Even more impressive is that it’s intentionally shot on film in order to give it that grindhousey feel:

Dear God No! (a.k.a. The Bigfoot Massacre) was shot on Fuji Super 16mm using Arri cameras over 7 days in various North Georgia locations. Dear God No! is a 70’s drive-in throwback exploitation / action / horror hybrid.

My mouth is watering!!  I’ll definitely be keeping my ears and eyes open for this one.

IT’S A WRAP FOR PIRANHA 3DD:

I love the PIRANHA 3D remake.  I love the FEAST trilogy.  I love director John Gulager.  SInce Gulager is directing PIRANHA 3DD there’s no reason for me not to be extremely excited about this one!!  According to Star News Online, the production wrapped up on May 27, 2011 and executive producer Joel Soisson says that

This one is so outlandish in places.  I hope it works because it really pushes all the boundaries slightly pushed in the first one.

Being familiar with Gulager’s work in the FEAST trilogy I get all tingly thinking about what he’s gonna do with PIRANHA 3DD.  PIRANHA 3DD will be released in the theaters on November 23, 2011 … just in time for Thanksgiving.  I was hoping for another summer release but at least it’ll be hitting the theaters.

What do you all think?  Are you as excited as I am for the sequel (which stars Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey, David Hasselhoff and Clu Gulager)?  I say bring it on!!

MEGAN FOX WANTS TO BE CARRIE:

No really; Fox is fucking perfect to play the lead in CARRIE. Look how ugly and awkward she is here.

Really?  I seriously have to cover this?  I think you all know what I’m gonna say about this news.  It’s not bad enough that MGM announced it was planning a remake of CARRIE.  You can all be as optimistic as you want … go ahead.  I’ll be the voice of reason here.  I’ll be blunt; no matter who writes it, who directs it, or who stars in it, the remake of CARRIE is gonna be a huge fucking train wreck!!  But just to ensure that the acting is gonna suck harder than a Riker’s Island stool pigeon, MovieWeb.com reports that Megan Fox is interested in the lead role in CARRIE.  Yes; Megan Fox, the actress who couldn’t act her way out of a wet paper bag, wants to play the lead role where her character is an awkward and homely high school student.  Fox, putting aside her acting abilities, is a hot piece of ass AND she’s 25 years old.  According to MovieWeb, a source close to Fox said:

Megan is a huge fan of the original and would love the chance to play the lead. She’s 25 now but she’s sure she could still do justice to teenage CARRIE. She’s told her people to make it happen.

Did you all throw up a little in your mouths too??  This same source goes on to say that Fox really wants this role in order to wash the stink of the TRANSFORMERS films off her career (those are my words, not the sources).  Furthermore, if Fox doesn’t get the lead in CARRIE she’s gonna take a break from Hollywood in order to take a starring role on Broadway.  Really?  Maybe she can land the lead in the Spider-Man Broadway show?

Hey Megan … go fuck yourself!!

That’s all I got for now.

Stay Bloody!!!