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The Dead Hate the Living!   B-

Full Moon Pictures

Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Dave Parker
Writer: Dave Parker
Cast: Eric Clawson, Jamie Donahue, Matt Stephens, Brett Beardslee, Wendy Speake, Kimberly Pullis, Benjamin P. Morris, Rick Irwin, Matthew McGrory, Andre 'Doc' Newman.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Full Moon Pictures is a company known for quirky, low-budget but well-made horror films. They've spawned the seemingly endless Puppet Master series, the gothic vampire chronicles of Subspecies, and other titles like Lurking Fear, Shrunken Heads, and Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak (1996). Sometimes their films hit the mark, offering quality genre entertainment; other times, they fail miserably. I was pleasantly surprised by The Dead Hate the Living!, but, then again, I went in with no expectations at all.

It follows the surefire genre formula of trapping a group of people in a closed-in place and unleashing hordes of the living dead upon them. In this case, indie director David Poe (Eric Clawson) is shooting his first low-budget horror film (a zombie flick, of course) in an abandoned hospital. We've got the typical indie film crew rounding out the cast of characters, most of whom will end up zombie food. There's the likably goofy makeup effects guy (Brett Beardslee), the sweet, pretty actress (Wendy Speake), the wanna-be movie star (Benjamin P. Morris), the director's bitchy sister (Kimberly Pullis), the pot-smoking cinematographer, the zombie extra (Rick Irwin), and the sexy production assistant (Jamie Donahue) who has the hots for the director.

They find a real corpse in the basement and David decides he has to use it in his movie. They accidentally bring the Rob Zombie look-a-like corpse back to life, who (played by Matt Stephens) is surprisingly literate and talkative for a dead guy, and he sends his minions of the living dead to maim and kill those pesky filmmakers.

The Dead Hate the Living! is chock full of in-jokes and horror movie references (kinda like a low-budget zombie version of Scream, but not as clever). My favorite part would have to be when David, in a moment of panic, asks, "What would Bruce Campbell do?" Writer-director Dave Parker is obviously a fan of Lucio Fulci's The Beyond and Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movies, and the influence makes this an enjoyable -- if largely unremarkable -- outing for fans of the genre. The cast is likable, the script has a cool twist or two, and the final scene is a clear homage to the ending of The Beyond.

Don't expect much in the way of real terror, though. The zombies are more cartoonish than threatening, but the gore effects are nicely done. I just got one question: Can you really drag a person by their intestines? Wouldn't the weight of the body cause the intestines to... uh, I dunno... snap?

Review published 03.03.2000.

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