Dead 7 (2016)
Director – Danny Roew
Writer – Nick Carter, Sawyer Perry
Runtime – 90 minutes
There I was relaxed, thinking the whole zombie celluloid storm had neared it’s finale (especially in light of The Walking Dead heralding the final episodes of one of its main cast members) when I happened upon a release I’d honestly forgotten about. Admittedly it was a DVD I’d purchased based on two premises, it’s price (dirt cheap) and it’s cast. But let’s not forget it’s cover and its emblazoned promise of “pounds of gore”. Alright, that’s three premises. I stand corrected!
So, in order, this enticed me because it was
A) a single dollar and
B) it contained a myriad of pop stars as its cast. Not normally a factor which would interest me, however, but seems as this is a zombie film I was intrigued as to how they might perish, or if they would perish. My mind reeled at the possibilities. Would Joey Fatone somehow sucumb to the ravenous appetites of his undead fans? Would Nick Carter sing his last notes as his steaming entrails are plucked from the remains of his jagged ribcage. See, I’m unduly excited at the prospects.
As it happens Dead 7 not only showcases the talents (!?) of members from NSYNC*, The Backstreet Boys but also a few from 98 °, O-Town and No Authority. I’m pleased to mention that a spot if research led me to this trivia and not fervent 90’s Pop fan boy worship in any way, shape or form. Another (useless) droplet of trivia before I leave the arena – Nick Carters wife, Lauren Kitt Carter, also stars as a Native princess, Sirene, who wields a rather wicked looking scythe.
The film itself has a premise which has been beaten mercilessly before, much like a red headed step child, but still manages to entice finance companies to fork out funds in order that another be made.
In short, a ragtag team are assembled to quash the threat of virtual takeover from Apocalypta, a Haitian like priestess, and her compliant army of undead types. To make things more interesting the action takes place in the West, citing Colorado Springs and various small townships in Montana.
Dead 7, an obvious homage to The Magnificent Seven even down to the western setting, is split into chapters with headings much like a gripping novel. The ‘seven’ are introduced by way of a comic book-esque black and white montage woth each having has his/her own peculiarities an element that makes for an interesting viewing experience to say the least.
The movies antagonists are largely of the undead variety which should come as no great shocker, however another element might make some think of the origins of the genre with the manufacture, and control, of ‘soldiers’ here by way of injection as opposed to powder as seen in films such as White Zombie and more recently Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow. Dead 7 even hints at the origins of the plague choosing to name zombies ‘copperheads’ a term deriving from copper dust in the mines thought likely to have caused the ‘infection’.
Dead 7 also thankfully sports dark humor which in places was surprisingly well applied. Naturally the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously which should please the majority of fans of the genre (lower budget affairs, not specifically Zombie cinema) and the characters appear largely to have fun in their comraderie whilst they chopped, stomped and blew away at all advancing husks of shambling chunks of animated rotting flesh. A quote coming by way of Whiskey Joe, Joey Fatone, had me chuckling “They’re everywhere and I’m running outta whiskey” as he apparent cared more for his liquor than he did his dwindling supply of bullets. And a jester like character Johnny Vermillion, played by AJ McLean, added another level of hilarity with his fearless clown like schnanigens and anarchist demeanor.
Other elements added to the films allure, take for example the addition of the delightfully delicious Carrie Keagan as a kick ass femme fatal, quality effects work including believable zombie makeup keep the interest level and the occasional spot of surprisingly brilliant camera work kept me intrigued. Add to that teeth pulling, drunken antics, a ‘cat house’ in the middle of nowhere, six shooters, gut munching, a samurai and head shots galore and an ending that isn’t the typical ‘everyone is happy and life goes on’ and you have a feature that’s undeniably watchable.
In conclusion, and against my better initial judgement, Dead 7 was many things. It was campy and cheesy even silly at times but altogether a damn sight more enjoyable than I had first imagined based on its being an Asylum production (admittedly I haven’t had the best of luck in finding features I enjoy from this studio other than the Sharknado franchise and the Zombie Nation series) and a film starring major players from ultra-popular boy bands from decades past. Dead 7 isn’t the finest entry in the undead arena to be brutally honest but it’s nowhere near the worst either, nevertheless it certainly doesn’t warrant its abysmal 3.2/10 IMDB rating. If truth be told these low scores usually drive me to films if only to prompt me to pen a few words in order that others might consider giving them a chance also.
If you’re up for a fun hour and a half and you can watch a film without dissecting it on account of artistic merits by all means give this a peek but if a more serious approach to the genre, both horror and undead film, is more your thing give this a wide birth as apart from gore galore and a few laughs Dead 7 really doesn’t offer that much more than has already been rehashed/regurgitated.