Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Platoon of the Dead (2009)

Directed by:
John Bowker

I'm a huge zombie movie fan always on the lookout for some unexpected hidden gem. This is not one of those. In fact, it's awful! Set sometime in the near future, the world has apparently been overrun by zombies and there's some kind of war going on between humans (who use some kind of advanced laser gun that dissolves zombies) and an intelligent and evolved "platoon of the dead" zombie army (who use a special laser gun that stuns people). Since this is a low scale, no budget flick shot on a low grade digital camera, the "war" basically amounts to a couple of guys dressed in camouflage running around in the woods. The most zombies ever seen on-screen at a single time is about six and that's at the very end of the film, so no actual threat for humankind is ever adequately established.

Inept, cowardly young soldier Private Dillon (Tyler David), obnoxious, sadistic Sergeant Butler (Tom Stedham) and their level-headed superior Lt. Roberts (Chris Keown) are the only three survivors after their squad is ambushed by the zombie soldiers. The three end up at a remote country home and discover three women; Heather (Ariana Albright), mute Jill (Amanda Bounds) and slutty Stacy (Michelle Mahoney), are hiding out there. The ladies behave strangely and secretive, but allow the guys to spend the night in exchange for an escort to a military safe point the next morning. Despite the war angle, it amounts to little more than yet another substandard revisit to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD territory but with the addition of some silly supernatural elements that don't come into play until the last 20 minutes. Usually a virus or scientific experiment gone awry gets the blame for zombie epidemics in these kind of movies, but here one of the characters claims it happened because of a OUIJA board (!?) Toward the end it's also revealed that someone is a demon and someone else is a savior the zombies want to protect and we quickly watch as something cheap and badly made becomes even worse by becoming something cheap, badly made and needlessly muddled.

The acting here is truly abysmal, even for the budget. Of the six main actors, only two of them are passable and one of those two is the mute girl. There seems to be an attempt at dry humored dialogue but none of the cast members are talented enough to deliver it for the desired effect. Not only is the acting and much of dialogue awful, but the film doesn't have nearly enough action (there's way too much talking), the characters do extremely idiotic things throughout (instead of locking a door they just let a zombie come inside and then scurry around the house looking for a hiding place!) and the presentation of the special effects (from the zombie designs to the laughable computer fx) is extremely weak. It's basically just an amateurish waste of time.

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