There isn’t enough witty banter in the world to lead you into this one, and besides that if one more plot element got introduced, I think you’d turn on me.
We’re talking The Dead Matter, a film by Midnight Syndicate, which I’m sure most of you are familiar with. Their music is awesome, and nobody disputes that. This movie has gotten glowing reviews all over the place, but unfortunately I can’t quite echo those sentiments, though I can say this is a better movie than some I’ve watched recently (I’m looking at you, Inheritance.) I had the pleasure of meeting the writer, Ed Douglas at the Cinema Wasteland convention back in April, and I can say with certainty that he is one highly creative dude. This movie proves that with extra to spare.
I’m going to break this down as best I could follow it. There are, that I counted, at least 4 different plotlines flowing through this mother, and I’m going to outline them here:
1. There is an amulet that allows the wearer to control the dead, and it’s in the hands of an evil vampire who wants the zombie hordes to be his army. Vampire hunters are trying to get it away from him and into the sacred woods of Ohio to dispel the evil.
2. A girl is in extreme mourning over her brother, and will resort to desperate measures to get him back, including witchcraft and the use of any amulets she happens to find in the sacred woods of Ohio.
3. War has broken out in the vampire community between those who cling to the old ways, and those who embrace change and the modern world. The ringleader of the modern vampires and the old school vampire go back and forth about the merits of real blood vs. synthetic vampire drugs.
4.Scientists are developing a weight loss drug that has an unfortunate side effect: Vampirism. Mayhem ensues.
All of these plot lines crash around the amulet, and left me wanting.
It’s like eating a casserole that’s got too much going on; it’s enjoyable, you’ll eat it without a problem, but there’s something that’s just not right about it. Take out the extras, and give me one solid dish. Any one of those stories would have been amazing. Sadly, mixing them all together, no matter how skillfully they segue into one another, just didn’t work. Maybe I’m a simple woman, I like chocolate chip cookies, but not chocolate chip cookies with walnuts and coconut; maybe this one was too sophisticated for me. But I’d rather watch vampires duke it out with hunters for the fate of humanity, or a girl getting her just desserts for not letting the dead rest, or even the drug. I love the drug plotline, and that was the thinnest one of them all. I leave out the vampire war plotline simply because I’m a little burnt out on the old fangsters. Maybe if the acting, while not lacking in star power, I mean, Tom Savini, Andrew Divoff, and Jason Carter are awesome, but the surrounding characters gave them nothing to play with. Gretchen, the mourning girl, had one of those annoying soft squeaky voices and looked almost bored the whole time.
The saving grace for this movie is it’s technical side. The movie is absolutely beautiful. Lighting, music, sets, shots, editing…this sumbish is sharp. You can tell how much love the filmmakers have for the genre from the opening shot. The special effects were largely practical and were spot on. Vampires ripping peoples gutsacks open, zombies falling apart all over the place, fridges full of meat coming to life and wiggling all over, too many dead bodies to count, realistic fighting scenes… its good stuff! If the stories had been given more room to grow, and I know this is a remake, but take out one or two elements here, and perhaps I’d be singing a different tune. I could see each of those plots as a Creepshow-style anthology series, wrap each one around the amulet or whatever you need to do, but tell the whole story, don’t just give me this, oh and then this too, then that, oh, and we can’t forget that! By the time it was over, I was scratching my head, and having to watch it again only to not really get any of my questions answered.
At any rate, you have to watch it at least once, if nothing for the scene where the amulet has attached itself to Gretchen’s chest and she makes her friend’s hair attack her, because hair is dead except for the root. I have to give major credit to Ed and the rest of the Midnight Syndicate folks who made this movie independently and gave us something original to gnaw on for a while.
Check out the trailer for “The Dead Matter”