Brain Dead – review


There are people that you come across in life that you get to know but then who just disappear as if they fell off the earth. Such is the case with some filmmakers who, after making a few films that get some notice they just sort of, well, disappear. Far too many directors I have been a fan of have disappeared over the years, the legends and the ordinary director alike, the market having changed or the director just losing their touch. Such seems to be the case with director Kevin S. Tenney, sadly, who directed the cult fave Night of the Demons and, well, Witchboard, and now he’s back with a new film. I have to say though that it isn’t terribly accurate because if you look him up on IMDB you’ll see that this movie is from 2007 and he’s done things since then, but, as far as we’re concerned this is his newest film, which, alas, is not such a good thing. Brain Dead is a very poor man’s version of Night of the Creeps and Slither and brother, that’s not a good thing.

Six strangers drawn to a beautiful wooded area are thrust into a nightmare of survival when a meteor lands nearby and transforms a local fisherman into ravenous zombie. As the zombie transforms other into brain-hungry ghouls the six strangers are drawn together to an isolated cabin where they must fight off the undead before they lose their lives, and their brains.

This is a case where I wish there was more to say about the plot but, honestly, it’s a pretty simple, pretty straightforward thing. Not that that is a bad thing. Heck, Blair Witch is – three college students get lost in the woods while making a documentary about a legendary witch. Their footage is the only thing found. So a slim plot explanation doesn’t mean a bad or limited film at all. In this case it’s’ more that there was no heart or originality in the movie. That it is three years old puts it disturbingly close to the release of Slither, a film about a meteor with a space slug in it that transforms people into ‘zombies’. Hmm. It almost feels as if there was a checklist that the filmmakers were going through when they made the movie – 1. Nudity – CHECK (and it’s crazy because all of the lead women get nude once, at the beginning of the film, and then the nudity is done), 2. Gore – yup 3, Terrible Jokes – yup. The film is going through the motions with only one scene that had a moment of shock, when they kill off what you thought would be a main character. It’s been done but it was still a surprise. The tone is also odd because it tries to be horror–comedy but has moments that are not funny at all, and are just dark for no reason (thinking of a scene when a killer that has escaped from custody kills an unconscious guard with a shotgun at point-blank range).

The acting is pretty wooden, the direction is flat, and the story and production is pretty horrendous. It is gory though, to be sure. Though there is such little originality (they even robbed the grave of Evil Dead for goodness sake) that it’s hard to cheer the film’s ridiculousness on. I mean, we’re horror movie fans here, if we didn’t love the clunkers of the genre we’d barely have any movie faves. But the thing is that too many of these made-for-video films are being churned out with no originality, with no heart, and you start to feel bad for the directors because all that’s asked from them is to basically show up for work and keep the budget low. So, I feel bad for director Tenney because no one wants to be known for mailing in their passion and their work, but sometimes that’s what’s asked, and when you get movies like this to do, well, how do you blame him?

This isn’t a good movie. At all. It’s a gory, ridiculous, mash-up that is certainly watchable but is not something to seek out. This is a late-night watch, and little else. There are just too many ‘good’ movies and even more good ‘bad’ films to bother with the boring stuff.

5 out of 10

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