Judge David Johnson doesn't want to visit the forest of the dead. It sounds like a sucky vacation spot.
If the bugs don't eat you alive, the campers will!
Stop me if you've heard this one before: a group of idiot kids travel to the woods for a weekend of camping and debauchery and end up dying bloody deaths. The minds behind this homegrown horror cheap-fest follow the milked-dry play-by-play well, injecting few innovations throughout.
But if you are interested, here's the plot rundown: these jerks pile into a car and head to an abandoned camp. Three girls, three guys, everyone's horny and looking forward to rolling up marijuana and smoking it like a cigarette, you know, the typical. After some interminable dialogue, the deaths start occurring and suddenly the movie changes focus to another group of horny, stupid young people. They too are en route to the camp for a few days worth of God-knows-what. And they too are soon dispatched one at a time by the previous group of campers, now transformed into blood-splattered, crazy-in-the-head cannibals. And there's your movie.
Look, I don't want to be a bastard here. I know this film was a labor of love and probably took a butt-load of time and resources and personal sacrifice to pull off. And I'm sure the participants are proud of what they accomplished and, you know, if I had worked my balls off and got a DVD release of my movie out to the public, I'd be proud, too. But, really, as it applies to you, the consumer, Forest of the Dead is a colossal waste of time. Besides the fact there's nothing new or interesting within the runtime that does something different with material that has been emaciated so much over time, these guys don't even manage to make the tired stuff all that entertaining. Or coherent. Basically, the only aspect of note in this goofy affair is the dialogue, which can be amusing at times. Everything else? You've' seen much, much better elsewhere.
Take the gore for example. Usually, the amount of bloodflow helps get these indie horror flicks street cred and when you're dealing with such lightweight storytelling as this film is, the sinew best be up to snuff. Well, it's ridiculously low-budget. One or two gags work (there's an okay face-peeling sequence), but the majority of the gore effects are profoundly cheap. My razor-sharp deduction skills tell me that these kids managed to sneak off with the human skeleton in their old high school biology classroom, coat with Karo syrup and put it to work. Decapitations, torso rips, head smashes, it's all Grade-Z, use-your-mom's-coupon-at-the-local-grocery-store-meat-counter type of stuff.
Yes, some of the dialogue was funny, but overall the script and storytelling is shallow and pointless. Characters insult each other and do stupid stuff then die and frankly I'm not entirely sure why they turn into cannibal monsters in the first place.
To recap: crappy gore effects, confusing and derivative plot, annoying characters. Yeah, don't bother with Forest of the Dead. Though, to end on a good note, the DVD is nifty. The full frame, 2.0 stereo treatment is par for the low-budget course, but there are plenty of extras to keep you occupied, of you so choose. Filmmaker Brian Singleton intros the film and provides a poorly recorded audio commentary along with his cast members; two making-of documentaries highlighting the gore effects and filming process are well-done; a sound design featurette is actually the highlight of the batch, showing the creativity needed to generate sounds work on the cheap; and outtakes and a short film wrap up the set.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
• Commentary with Cast and Crew
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