Dawn of the Living Dead (DVD)
Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring David Heavener, Todd Bridges, Amanda Bauman, Joe Estevez, Libertie Heavener
Directed by David Heavener
Distributed by Hannover House
While watching Dawn of the Living Dead, I started to get a strange feeling of déjà vu. Yet, somehow I couldn't place what was so familiar to me. Sure, I've watched more than my fair share of badly written, terribly acted zombie films recently, but that wasn't it. Nor was it the fact that I had just had to watch and review another film with both Joe Estevez and Todd Bridges in it.
No, there was something else I couldn't quite put my finger on…Oh…noooo! Once the realization finally crept into my consciousness, I didn't want any part of me in, on, or around it! HIM! I knew I had recognized that name, but my mind wouldn't allow me to fully recall why. This could possibly be due to the post traumatic stress I suffered as a result of watching the first film I had encountered him in. Who is this man you ask? Well, it's none other than the Psycho Weenie himself, David Heavener.
There I was, faced with the terror that my flashbacks of Psycho Weene (review) would return to haunt me. I knew I had heard that hysterically bad dialogue somewhere before, but this time I was still mildly entertained and the movie was nearly half over…AMAZING! A Heavener film didn't have me sui/homicidal within the first fifteen minutes! Instead, Dawn of the Living Dead was keeping me morbidly interested between the sections of horridly funny dialogue (not funny "ha ha"; funny "does this taste funny to you?" funny) and bad glowing digital cornfields by showcasing some first-rate zombie gore!
When a terribly mismatched couple, Jeffrey and Renee, move into an isolated cabin in the middle of a desert, they think they've bought their dream home. Unfortunately the house has a history that doesn't exactly want to stay in the past. Renee quickly begins having visions of a grisly murder that took the lives of the family of five who lived in the house before them. She soon becomes obsessed with solving the mystery behind the gory deaths. It doesn't take long for it to become painfully clear that the murdered family is not at peace and has come back to make sure that everyone around them knows it.
Dawn of the Living Dead is brimming with problems, including plot holes that Optimus Prime could get lost in. MOST of the acting is thoroughly atrocious, the direction is beyond terrible, and the narrative is ludicrous. The soundtrack is at times used to an annoying degree (but I must say the original theme music is relatively hysterical). The ways in which Heavener introduces new characters to the plot and then utilizes them once they're there is utterly absurd. It's almost as if he figured out partway through filming that he didn't have enough fodder for his undead Mayans so he invented reasons for people to wander into the story. And why no one else on the planet seemed to be affected by or even noticing that every so often the sun would multiply itself is baffling…but hey, I didn't write it! Thank goodness! I'd have to quit!
As far as the positives, there isn't a lot I can say that's good about this film. I just know that it isn't ALL bad! The zombies aren't phenomenal, but they look pretty decent. The attacks are well done and look as believable as a zombie attack can. At least they appear to be actually biting and tearing at the flesh of their victims instead of trying to give them a hickey. The damage effects are downright gruesome in parts. There is also the birth of a zombie baby that leads to a conflict between Heavener and the undead newborn that is worth the space on your Netflix queue.
Lastly, there's one performance that stands out among the rest (even beyond the nearly unrecognizable Todd Bridges), and that would be the onscreen debut of Libertie Heavener. I thought she did a wonderful job portraying little Venita, both in human and in zombie form. It was an admirable first-time acting stint to say the least.
So, while I can say the movie is bad, it's not so bad as to be unwatchable. Of course that is totally open to personal interpretation. The DVD release itself is pretty basic. It contains the feature, a trailer, and a documentary style behind-the-scenes featurette. Oddly enough, the featurette is strangely entertaining as well. Go figure.
I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I wasn't completely put off by a David Heavener film. Now excuse me while I mark the calendar, check my temperature, and call the doctor…
2 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5