J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Walking Deceased: Shamble Hard, with a Vengeance

It is clear why Sheriff Lincoln survived the zombie apocalypse. He doesn’t have any brain for them to eat. Yes, that name is supposed to remind you of another zombie killing lawman. Despite taking a few respectful potshots from other franchises, this zombie spoof is to The Walking Dead what Galaxy Quest was to Star Trek and Space Balls was to Star Wars. The body count is also true to the spirit of the original source material when Scott Dow’s The Walking Deceased (trailer here) shambles into select theaters today.

Just like Deputy Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead (and Bill Masen in Day of the Triffids), Sherriff Lincoln wakes up from a coma to discover the world has largely ended. After an awkward meeting with ne’er do well survivors Chicago and Green Bay, Lincoln sets out to find his long neglected family before hopefully rendezvousing with the small moronic band of survivors holed up at the shopping mall. Oddly, that is one of the very few hat-tips to George Romero’s Living Dead series, which got the whole zombie party rocking in the first place. However, it cribs more liberally from zombie rom-coms like Warm Bodies and Life After Beth with Romeo, the sensitive zombie, who falls for hot-headed hottie survivor Brooklyn.

Since he seems to be getting better, the squabbling band reluctantly accepts him into their ranks. He still has difficulty communicating, but he serves as the film’s voice of reason through his interior monologues. He will duly trundle along when the group heads off in search of Safe Haven Ranch, because they did something similar in The Walking Dead.

Okay, so the humor in Deceased is usually pretty crude and dumb. Nonetheless, it must be granted Dow and screenwriter Tim Ogletree really know their Walking Dead. Unlike the hopefully abated plague of spoof movies so generic they literally had the word “movie” in their title, Deceased genuinely wants to send-up zombies and not whatever else happens to be playing in multiplexes.

Not surprisingly, Deceased is decidedly uneven. Nobody will ever mistake it for Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, but at least it is not afraid to be rude. In fact, the film generates a surprisingly number of laughs when it lets the dysfunctional characters tear into each other. Honestly, the cutting dialogue will exceed expectations (logically assuming they are on the modest side coming in). Dave Sheridan boldly doubles down on buffoonishness as the Sheriff, while Joey Oglesby and Sophia Taylor Ali bring the sharp-elbowed attitude, as Chicago and Brooklyn, respectively. Unfortunately, everyone else’s one-note characterizations wear thin over time.

Look, we’re talking about a meathead movie here. It is dumb, but sometimes amusing and often quite bloody. It does not pretend to be much more, but that is still more than most mash-ups deliver. If that is enough for you, The Walking Deceased opens today (3/20) in limited markets and also launches on iTunes.

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