RUNNING TIME: 80 Minutes
• Audio Commentary
• Behind the Scenes
• Blooper Reel
It’s a three-dimensional bullet in the head of George Romero’s classic film.
Brianna Brown, Joshua DesRoches, Sid Haig, Greg Travis, Johanna Black
I 8 GROUNDSKEEPER.., LULZ
Barb and Johnny make their way to a rural town for their aunt’s funeral. Unfortunately, something’s gone terribly wrong at the cemetery, and the dead are rising from their graves- one could say that the mourners are… "dying" to "meat" them. Barb takes refuge with a group of local pot farmers, but the ravenous undead hordes swarm around the farm, forcing the survivors to retreat to the farmhouse and board up the doors and windows. Was the zombie outbreak a result of a biblical plague, or was it caused by sinister medical experiments at the local funeral home? One could say that Barb is "dead set" on uncovering the mystery. Of all of the questions raised by the film, the most important one is this: Will the 3D glasses give you brain-splitting migraines? Of "corpse" they will!
"Aw, jeez- this is like the third time this has happened. I’m all thumbs when it comes to tire irons."
First, some groundwork, lifted from dictionary.com:
public domain –noun Law.
|1.||the status of a literary work or an invention whose copyright or patent has expired or that never had such protection.|
3-D’s great. From Epcot’s Captain EO (which is now the unfortunate Honey I Shrunk The Audience) to the newer 3-D IMAX stuff, 3-D can add a lot of fun to the moviegoing experience, especially if you like watching people frantically swatting at imaginary insects. People inexplicably lose their ability to reason once they put 3-D glasses on, and it’s great fun to watch them chimp out as they try to grab the floating ants during "A Bug’s Life 3-D!"
Still, 3-D’s just a gimmick. It doesn’t make a movie any better than it was in 2-D (unless it features flying three-dimensional organs, but we’ll discuss that later). Night of the Living Dead 3D, a "remake" of Romero’s classic zombie film, is a "remake" in the loosest sense of the word. Apparently, Night of the Living Dead is a public domain title, so Lux Digital Films capitalized on it by stamping their lifeless, brainless, useless zombie film with the Dead handle in an attempt to boost sales. It’s a real pity, since I’m sure that some people will confuse this for a genuine Romero product. Dead 3D doesn’t work as either a good zombie film or a good 3D film, as the movie’s shit, and the 3D is both a wasted opportunity and a literal headache.
Dead 3D opens with the original Romero’s Night of the Living Dead being broadcast on an old black and white Zenith TV. The camera pans back to reveal that we’re watching from within an abandoned gas station convenience store, and we float out the window toward the desolate country road where we find our new Barbara ("BARB" in this version, for some reason) and Johnny as they head toward the funeral. The NOTLD title that floats menacingly over the road is one of the few shots that work great in 3D. It sets a reverent-yet-campy tone for the film by both pointing toward the original and offering something new, but it’s all downhill from there.
When Barb and Johnny reach the graveyard and find it deserted, Johnny wonders aloud: "Maybe we’ve been PUNK’D!" Yeah, baby! South Park! Oh, Behave! Perhaps we’ve all been PUNK’D. From there, it follows the plot of the original very loosely, as Johnny gets accosted by zombies and Barb flees the cemetery, only to bump into Sid Haig’s groundskeeper character. He’s too busy thwacking zombies with a shovel to offer any real assistance, so Barb runs into the forest and meets up with a mellow gang of pot farmers.
Donald’s unique method of tipping pizza delivery guys was harsh but fair.
It’s difficult to pin down Dead 3D‘s biggest problem, so I’ll just start with the 3D. I’m not one who usually has problems with 3D, but after watching Dead 3D for an hour, my eyes were throbbing like boiled sheep oysters. As you might have noticed from the screen caps, Dead 3D uses the age old red and blue lens system for creating the illusion of depth. Unsurprisingly, this makes pretty much everything look purple. It also might make you nauseous. What’s even worse is that Dead 3D doesn’t even capitalize on the 3D as much as it should. I can only remember four or five scenes that really jumped out at me (pun intended), including a foot (see above), a joint (see below), and a smoke ring. The only really fun 3D moment in the entire film was a goo-spurting zombie that looked suspiciously like Marshall Bell [see bottom]. If you’re going to make a terrible 3D zombie film, at the very least include some flying entrails. Push it over the top, and don’t waste my time with boots or weed, you pussies!
Secondly, Dead 3D‘s dialogue and acting is only a hair above Sci-Fi-channel-original-movie quality. It’s filled with dated pop culture nods and terribly forced pot jokes. Here’s a great example of both of these:
Lady: "Oh, Hi Owen."
Owen, as he waves a joint around: "Ooooh, REVENGE OF THE SPLIFF!"
Lady: "You so crazy!"
Dead 3D has TONS of useless drug references that were obviously shoehorned in to cater to college morons. Your spliff isn’t getting revenge on anything. Just stop talking, Owen.
"REVENGE OF THE SPLIFF! T. H. Seabiscuit! Wolfgang Petersen’s DAS BONG! HERB-ie goes to Monte Carlo! CHUD II: BUD THE BUD! DUUUDE!
Since the dialogue and acting are all so weak, it’s nearly impossible to care about the characters. The zombie threat is meaningless because we just don’t care about any of the survivors. Dead 3D doesn’t work as campy fun, either. Camp can’t be manufactured. Camp has to be unintentional to work, and since it’s obvious that DEAD 3D‘s writers were so desperate for winking laughs, it fails miserably.
If there’s anything good about the film, it’s Sid Haig’s groundskeeper character. Although he gets precious little screen time, he delivers a few silly, fun moments. His teeth should have had top billing. Also, there are a few well-designed zombies, including a half-zombie and a naked autopsy zombie, although the latter was ripped off directly from the "official" (and much better) remake of Night of the Living Dead. There’s also the groovy Marshall Bell zombie, which I’ve captured at the bottom of the page.
Zombie films all too often get a pass to be crappy. There are a lot of fun-yet-terrible zombie films out there, like Burial Ground, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, and any Fulci film (Sorry, Fulci fans. They’re all really bad). Since Dead 3D doesn’t even succeed with the 3D part of its title, it can’t even be mentioned in that same list. It’s more on par with uninteresting modern failures like the Return of the Living Dead sequels (e.g. the one set in ancient Greece- Return of the Living Dead 8: Apocalypse at the Acropolis). Haig brings along some goodwill, but it’s not enough to dig it out of its disingenuous, poorly realized, 3D suck-hole.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot- remember Ben, the iconic black hero from the original version? He’s a white guy in this remake.
There’s a Q&A session with the filmmakers and a making-of documentary, and they’re both a reasonable amount of fun. Listening to the bonus materials, it turns out that both the 3D and the drug humor were forced upon the filmmakers by its producers. Also, this film was originally planned as a remake of I Bury the Living, which is another public domain title. Without seeing the film, you might actually feel bad for these guys for having to compromise their artistic vision for the sake of commerce, but let’s not kid ourselves- they weren’t going to churn out the next Dawn of the Dead no matter what mandates the producers handed down.
The audio is unremarkable, and I can’t say anything good about the video, which hurt my brain and eyes. Maybe it’s just me, though- I’m notoriously susceptible to DLP color wheels, so take that criticism with a grain of salt. The box art is fine, although Sid Haig never brandishes a pitchfork in the movie.
Also, if you have a pair of Red and Blue 3D glasses lying around, feel free to use them on my screencaps, as they’re all in 3D. It’s the kind of value-added stuff I always like to add to my reviews. Note: I was paid 50% more than my normal hourly rate to review this DVD, since I recently renegotiated my CHUD contract to get paid by the dimension. Suckers!
Marshall Bell’s set visit was tragically cut short when he was mistaken for an actual zombie.
3 out of 10