“Let us not blaspheme.”
The Ford brothers may have pissed off some local witch doctor since their production has the definite feeling of being under a curse when you hear about all they had to go through. Bad shoot must equal good movie since the end product is pretty good.The dead are rising and roaming the Earth. Americans are trying to get out of Africa as the slow moving dead are ravaging the countryside and killing to swell their ranks. Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) is on the last plane out of the area but it crashes into the ocean and he barely makes it ashore. Meanwhile, Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei) has returned to his village for his wife and son.
What he finds is the carnage of a zombie attack. He discovers the body of his wife but learns that his son took off with some soldiers headed for a base to the North. Daniel sets off to find his son and forms an alliance with Brian who he saves from a zombie attack. The two take off in a ramshackle car to try and make it to the base but everywhere they turn they find the dead.
When you learn of the hardships that the crew went through to make the film, you wonder that the movie got made at all. They had to suffer through corrupt officials, months awaiting their equipment to be released from customs, and many bouts of malaria and dysentery. However, the Ford brothers soldiered on and finally got their film done.
The plot is the barest bones, two racially different characters having to wing their way across a wasteland of both desert and the dead to get to a goal. Along the way their hesitation at partnering up will lead to friendship. What are different are the harsh conditions of Africa and that setting.
It lends much to the film, but also led to much of the crew being ill and many more hardships dealing with corrupt local officials as well as a culture that did things much differently.
They found the locals much more accommodating than the governments. Many of their zombies were very happy to stumble around for what they were paying since it was much more than they earned in their day jobs. When you hear all of the real-life horrors on the commentary track you cut some slack for some of the things that don’t work.
I thought Freeman was okay in the lead, but thought that Osei was much better. Some of it could’ve been the malaria that Freeman was suffering through for some of the scenes though. I don’t know that I’d say that the Dead is the best zombie movie ever, but it does capture that Romero dourness and earns much by setting it in a different environment.
The Dead is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.85:1). Special features include a commentary with directors Howard and Jon Ford, 5 minutes of behind the scenes footage, and the 2 minute theatrical trailer.
The Dead earns points for its African setting and all of the hurdles that had to be jumped to get the film in the can. I found it an interesting tale of zombies, just don’t expect a happy ending.
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