Case Number 11934

DAWN OF THE LIVING DEAD

Hannover House // 2006 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 24th, 2007

The Charge

zombie sounds

Opening Statement

I think this movie wants to be confused for another entry into George A. Romero's undead series. Be warned: it's not. But it's not a horrible waste of time either.

Facts of the Case

A married couple moves to a secluded home in the desert for some reason and immediately regrets it when they're besieged by a family of zombies. Jeffrey (Joe Estevez) and Renee (Amanda Baumann) are looking for some quiet respite. Renee especially needs to relax as she's just been released from a mental hospital.

Something's shady, though, with the new property, and a little nosing around reveals that the house is built on a Mayan graveyard. Soon Renee starts seeing horrific visions of the undead and no one believes her -- except Mike (David Heavener), the mysterious windmill repairman. When the flesh-eaters crawl from their graves and begin dining on passersby, Renee will be vindicated. So that's good.

The Evidence

Formerly titled Curse of the Maya, David Heavener's zombie outing is an enjoyable low-budget, undead comedy romp. The production values are adequate and the gore effects impressive. And thankfully, Heavener has injected a sense of humor into his film. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Dawn of the Living Dead for a zombie-movie fan -- if the DVD didn't suck so bad.

I was shocked to find out this was released in 2006! I would have pegged it as an early-90s premiere, tops. The combination of the low-grade film stock and the substandard video quality age the film considerably. Combine that with an unimpressive 2.0 stereo mix and only a short behind-the-scenes featurette for extras and you're looking at a real missed opportunity. But it gets worse. You can forget about skipping chapters. Doing so will just bump you back to the title menu. Seriously, guys, is this 1993 or something? I'm tempted to call this disc "near-broken," but if you put it into your DVD player and hit the play button a movie will appear on your TV.

And, yes, said movie isn't too shabby. Heavener is not shy about using up his special effects budget. A handful of the death scenes are suitably messy as victims get their ears chomped off, throats ripped out and guts removed via heavy-duty biting and chewing. It's all the bloody, gooey mayhem you've come to expect from the legions of zombie movies flooding the market, but props to Heavener and his skilled makeup effects crew for not holding back. In fact, here's a "cheers" to Heavener in particular, who dons the creature façade himself and looks to have a good time with it.

As for the plot, don't expect anything genre-bending. There's a smidgen of a mystery involved as to the identity of the killer from Renee's visions but a few rudimentary brain processes and a helpful process of elimination reveals who's behind the horror pretty early on. Really, like any zombie film not interested in providing half-assed social commentary, the story that propels Dawn of the Living Dead exists solely to keep the zombies coming.

Acting is up to the B-movie schlock standard, with most everyone turning in a refreshingly self-aware performance. Amanda Baumann gives it a go with her portrayal and aims for legitimate characterization, but there's really no point. This isn't a serious scare film, but another amalgam of comedy and horror; there's no room for thespians here.

Closing Statement

A fun movie. A horrible disc. Your call.

The Verdict

See above.

Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 60
Audio: 70
Extras: 70
Acting: 75
Story: 75
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile
Studio: Hannover House
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0452766/combined

* Official Site
http://www.davidheavener.com/curseofthemaya/index.htm