The Dead (a Ford Brothers film). Reviewed by Derek Prior
The Dead is a stunningly shot zombie movie with some notable differences. The most obvious is the African setting, but that’s not all. The zombies themselves are haunting and macabre: many were played by locals, some of whom were amputees. They seldom make any noise but are present throughout almost all of the film, often seen in the distance wandering in somnambulistic trances without any of the over-acting that’s usually assocaited with these films. They are understated, and scarily so. However, once they get close they are as gruesome as anything in a Romero film.
At times the feel of the film reminded me of Zombie Flesh-Eaters. Some of that was down to the edits - none of that “blink anbd you’ll miss it” MTV generation editing here. This had the epic feel of late 60s and early 70s movies (think the original “Planet of the Apes”). The vastness of Africa was captured wonderfully, and this only added to the typical zombie existentialist theme of there being no exit: no one ever gets out alive (or do they?)
Rob Freeman does a great job in the central role and there were some terrific supporting actors. The only slight gripe I had with this film was the dialogue. Mercifully there wasn’t much of it, but such lines as we got to hear were rather stilted. The characters were used more as “talking heads” to explain things to the audience, and were always weakest when speaking.
It’s hard to believe this was shot on a low budget. The directors have done a great job generating remorseless tension (another slight issue is that there is no lightness in the film - it piles tension upon tension and never lets go; it’s not an easy ride). The cinematography is first rate and the soundtrack is haunting, evocative, and never obtrusive.
As a zombie movie, this is right up there with the 2005 Dawn of the Dead and the excellent Quarantine. One of the best zombie films I’ve seen, and (dialogue aside) up there with the TV series, The Walking Dead.