Reviewed by Kryten Syxx
Starring Josh Lively, Zane Crosby, Lloyd Kaufman
Directed by Justin Channell
The world of low budget independent films is a dangerous one. Each week a new one lands on our doorstep, and each week this reviewer straps on his protective cup and prays that he won’t get hit in the nuts by another silly hack job. This isn’t to say all these films are bad; once in a while a decent or even good one shoots some smack into these old veins and keeps the body alive for a few more months.
Die and Let Live just sort of showed up out of nowhere. It had a packed world premiere last December, but that was the last bit of noise the film made as far as these ears were concerned.
Justin Channell’s film doesn’t waste a lot of time with flashy intros or a ton of dialogue. Die and Let Live gets right down to the zombie action with blood, gunshots, and a distinct quality that shows these young filmmakers were serious about their work. The plot, as far as the zombie invasion is concerned, is paper thin. The concentration here is not on the spread of a virus that raises the dead but on two friends and a party.
Die and Let Live is first a comedy with enough bloody biting and ripping to please most horror fans. The tributes to Romero’s Dead series are obvious but never go out of their way to beat it into your head.
This flick does try to keep the killings up there with the classics, and the quality of gore makes up for its economical shortcomings. The make-up effects may be cost effective and repetitive, but they work. There is nothing wrong with over-the-top violence when you have enough of everything else to make it worthwhile. Hell, this thing was even shot with more skill than bigger budgeted flops we’ve seen hit the direct-to-DVD market. It looks like money can’t buy everything.
What backs up the zaniness? The characters. The leads of the film, Benny and Smalls, are two best friends who are your average high school kids. They don’t take the world too seriously and are always up for booze and pussy. What makes them likable is the absence of standard WB-issued schlock. We aren’t seeing a troupe of supermodels in their 30’s attempting to be 18-year-old pervs. Are you listening Hollywood?
The humor in Die and Let Live hits the mark on most occasions thanks to good comic timing and delivery by a majority of the cast. Come to think of it, a good 90% of the cast seem to have real acting ability, and this would have been made even better by tightening up the film a little. Sometimes the lines being spoken seem like simple script reading, but more often than not it comes across as believable.
With what little there was to work with, Die and Let Live can make even the simplest things hilarious. When your best friend is threatened by a zombie, do you grab a heavy brick or a long handled pool cleaner? If the pool cleaner fails, do you try to fish it out of the bottom of the pool or grab the easily reachable brick?
Be on the lookout for the following thought-provoking tidbits:
Should you go out and see Die and Let Live if given the opportunity? Yes! Thankfully it never drags on and on or becomes full of itself like Freak Out. It knows just when to call it quits. If this film doesn’t get you laughing, then you are already among the living dead.
3 1/2 out of 5
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