AKA: The Running Dead
Director: Adam Deyoe
Writer: Adam Deyoe, Joshua Klausner, Loren Semmens
Cast: Scott Peat, Marissa Merrill, James C. Burns, Corsica Wilson, Marc L. Fusco, Todd Pritchett, Grant Beijon, Kevin O. Matta, Anna Vawser, Greg Weisman, Leishla M. Perez Figeroa, Sean McDonald, Dave Wilhoit, Barbara Kerford, Carmen Gloria, Matt Aidan, Sue Braden, Jeanette Caldera, Randall Carver, Tom Caster, Louis Chalif, Phil Connery, Amy Coughlin, Scott Deckert, Erica Delgado, Adam Deyoe, Douglas J. Eboch, Mia Eden, David Eshelman, Nancye Ferguson, Dawn Ferris, Randy Francis, Mariella Fredo, Daisy Galvis, Daniel Gavin, Jordan Graham, Woodrow Wilson Hancock III, Benny Harris, Jostel Hason, Jeb Heil, Alexis Hernandez, Dan Hicks, Jessica Houghton, Ben Idom. Stefan Ionesco, Derek Jacobsen, Danny J. Lee, Joel Michaely, Christian Mooney, Teresa R. Parker, Ava Peat, Matt Peat, Tonya Peat, Sara Raftery, Jeyson L. Robles, Natalie Smyka, Mr. Snake, Rachel Tamayo, Evelyn Vaccaro, Evelyn Osorio Vaccaro, Amanda Wigley, Collin Wigley, James Zimbardi
Prior to the zombie apocalypse Elvis was working as an EMT in Pittsburgh. Now, a year later, he has buried his family and walked from Pittsburgh to Florida, where he is trying his best to survive anyway he can. At night he talks to Tweeter on the radio. He has never met her but he tells her of his plan to get away from the zombie infested main lands. A guy he used to work with is living at a marina in Miami and is helping people get away by supplying boats and travel plans for them. One night Tweeter and a kid she met two months ago turns up at Elvis’ place. They’re actually there to try to steal food from him, but as they don’t get away with it instead they form sort of an alliance and follows him towards the coast.
When they arrive at the marina, Leach (Dan Hicks of Evil Dead II and Darkman fame) first reacts in a funny way when he see Tweeter and the kid. They trade Elvis’ food supplies for a boat and directions to this supposedly zombie free island. He warns them that the fish isn’t edible due to radiation from earlier nuclear testing on the island. The only way from Leach’s place to the boat is through a warehouse full of zombies. By the look on Leach’s face when they leave, and by his reaction when he saw Tweeter and the kid, I got he impression that he knew what was awaiting them on the island, or didn’t believe they would make it to the boat alive. Either way he didn’t care to much as it was business as usual to him. And behold – Leach turns up again later in found footage on a certain island.
The kid doesn’t make it, but Elvis and Tweeter has to abandon the boat when it runs out of fuel not far from the beaches of the island. They swim ashore and set out to explore it. It doesn’t take long before they run into both zombies and a group of people living in a gated community. Elvis is more than welcome since their previous doctor is dead, but Tweeter isn’t so sure about the group. She stumbles upon some home movies, and among them there are tapes of medical experiments on humans infected by zombie bites but not yet dead. By keeping them alive and shutting of blood flow body parts can be amputated and meat “harvested” before they turn into zombies. Why let good meat go to waste?
My first impression of Dead Season was that it was yet another generic zombie film. It felt like a rip off of The Walking Dead, and they even referred to the zombies as “walkers”, but according to the filmmakers the script for Dead Season predates TWD and filming was mostly done when TWD premiered. Since The Walking Dead is based on comic books, those could still be an inspiration. I first found the film average. Not really bad, but not really bad either. But then it somehow got to me and the story sucked me in. It’s obvious the filmmakers are zombi enthusiasts as there are a number of references to other films and zombie lore. First of all the zombie apocalypse starts in Pittsburgh, which of course, as everybody knows, is the zombie capitol of the world ever since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and it’s sequels. We have human experiments and zombies on islands in both Romero’s Day of the Dead and in Fulci’s Zombi 2 and Zombi 3. There is also a zombie stowaway on a boat in Zombi 2. At the compound they are speaking width someone on a military base just outside London on the radio, and he tells them England is practically taken over by the dead and that they are now running. This is probably a reference to the 28 Days Later franchise.
The title for the British DVD release is The Running Dead. I’ve never been a fan of running zombies and I figure this is why it took me so long to get around to watch Dead Season. Ironically there are no running zombies in it until the last part of the film, and then we get an explanation to why these running zombies don’t behave like they used to do. I’ve read several reviews where people apparently missed this explanation and are confused to why some zombies are fast while the rest is not, but to me it was like “WOW, so that’s why!”. To me this explanation makes Dead Season build a bridge between two separate zombie lines and actually changing the rulebook. An speaking of rulebooks, the book Leach is reading when Elvis knocks on his door is The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, author of World War Z.
All those references made me reconsider and Dead Season went from average to above average. It was even better when re-watched.
My verdict: 6 out of 10.
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