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AICN HORROR: Mangotree has seen the new zombie film, THE DEAD and Ambush Bug is jealous as hell!!!

Logo by Kristian Horn

What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Ambush Bug here. There isn’t a zombie film out there that I don’t want to see more than THE DEAD. Check out this trailer and tell me it doesn’t look like the best zombie film to come along in years. Well, lucky bastard Mangotree got to see a sneak screening the other day and decided to rub it in by writing up this review of it. Enjoy!

And here’s what Mangotree had to say. Beware, here there be spoilers…

Hi the guys, Daily reader and occasional ‘talk backer’. I had the great fortune this evening to watch a special preview screening of a little gem of a zombie film called ‘The Dead’. It’s written and directed by the Ford brothers and has now achieved a theatrical release in the UK, US and other territories. I believe the release date is this September – not sure whether it’s a limited release, but it’s going to be out there, somewhere!

What’s really amazing about this movie, is the incredible story behind it. It was filmed on location in Burkina Faso, Africa and the crew went through hell to get it made. This includes the director being mugged at knife-point on the first day he arrived in Africa, (he was robbed of all money, credit cards and even his hand sanitizer) the lead actor contacting malaria and nearly dying, various bouts of diarrhoea and sickness for cast and crew ( at the screening Q & A, the director joked how he planned scenes in-between vomiting) and constant harassment by the local police/military who needed to be ‘paid off’ frequently. There is more, but I want to talk about the film.


The film begins with the main protagonist fleeing Africa in a cargo plane. Lt Brian Murphy is an American engineer working in Africa who is caught up in the zombie outbreak. We don’t know why it occurs. No explanation is given or needed – very Romero like in the way we are thrown ‘right in there’. To be honest, on a personal level, I can’t stand zombie movies that take up the first act explaining how a ‘virus’ got out, anyway. (Return of the living dead excused).

The plane crashes into the sea (due to not being fully fuelled and prepared we find out later) and he and another soldier survive and scramble to the beach. Zombies start shuffling towards them (these are Romero zombies – they don’t sprint!) and the other soldier panics and runs into the jungle leaving Murphy behind. He opens a washed-up crate, takes out a pistol and some supplies, shoots a few zombies and runs into the jungle himself.

It’s important to say, that this film is a ‘journey’ movie with zombies. It has characters with motives and is beautifully shot with the stunning landscape of Africa as a perfect backdrop. Nothing has been done like this before as far as I am aware.

We then cut to a village which is under attack by the dead – plenty of gore for everyone. Lots of bites and entrails (99% was done without the need for CGI – nearly all practical effects) A mother ushers her son to escape just before she gets eaten and some soldiers flee on the back of a lorry with him on board. The next day, a soldier returns and surveys the carnage. He picks up a picture of the boy who escaped and takes it with him and we later find out this is the boy’s father, Daniel.

The thing that strikes you about this movie is the characters do things that people would do in this situation. If they kill a zombie, they check it for supplies, ammo etc, when Murphy feels tired he climbs a tree and sleeps high up where the dead can’t get to him and so on. Eventually, they manage to trash the truck by veering into a horde of zombies and breaking the axel down an embankment. This happens at night with a scene very ‘Return of the living dead’ like – they put on the lights to reveal zombies en mass. They get out of the situation by abandoning the truck and making a run for it. When they feel safe, they set up a camp fire – Murphy ties a line of string around the perimeter and attaches some tins with stones in them to rattle if the dead come near. Unfortunately, the alarm works, but they are so tired, hungry and thirsty that it doesn’t wake them and Daniel becomes supper. Murphy escapes being bitten and saves Daniel, but as we know, it’s only a matter of time...

I saw this in a little ‘art house’ cinema in Birmingham, England, with about 40 other people. Very comfortable and intimate. After all the cheap and generally crap zombie movies we have had over the last few years, this was a treat. Well acted, well made and well thought out.

If you use this, just call me Mangotree.

Here’s a longer preview thanks to Dread

Be sure to catch AICN HORROR every Friday!

Readers Talkback
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  • July 5, 2011, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Looks vaguely racist and cheap

    by YackBacker

    Are you sure Mike Bay did not direct this thing?

  • July 5, 2011, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Looks like a blast. Thanks for the heads up.

    by dasheight

  • July 5, 2011, 9:22 a.m. CST

    Great to have previews in the UK ...

    by Chris Wood

    The movie sounds like a blast and the realism looks well done too, so I'll be checking this one out at some point. Vaguely racist? If the film's set in Africa, would you expect Norwegian zombies? I'd be amazed if all the undead there came from Detroit or Cambridge. Flying Zombie Death Monkeys anyone?

  • July 5, 2011, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Most Americans regard Africans as Zombies anyway.

    by cookylamoo

    And the story of the making of this film explains why.

  • July 5, 2011, 9:25 a.m. CST

    OK, I'm in...when and where?

    by MoneyGrabSequel

    Is this going to be a theatrical release? PS - make a movie out of Xombies: Apocalypse Blues

  • July 5, 2011, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Good film

    by ji_doctor

    Was very fond of many aspects in this one. Saw it nearly a year ago now though amongst 20 odd other horror films so memory is a bit fuzzy on it. Hoping to attend the live dvd commentary on it next month at FrightFest. Was pretty unique from what I remember.

  • You'll see plenty of zombies. ;-)

  • July 5, 2011, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Oh, I've been waiting for another zombie movie

    by Rhinosaur

    Not really. Christ, Hollywood. If it weren't for remakes, superheroes, vampires or zombies you wouldn't have shit. At least you gave up on remaking old TV shows.

  • July 5, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    I like zombie movies, but..

    by whofan71

    this looks cheap, lazy, half-assed, and, well...just plain bad. And I'm sorry, but did you actually say that it "looks like the best zombie move to come along in years"? 28 Days Later? Shaun of the Dead? Zombieland? Urgh, my head!

  • July 5, 2011, 11:07 a.m. CST

    Dont' get me wrong...

    by whofan71

    Reading your synopsis of the movie, it sounds wonderful. Great ideas. But I'm just not getting thrilled by the trailer. Maybe I should reconsider and give it a chance, though.

  • July 5, 2011, 11:22 a.m. CST

    Time for something new, Hollyweird.

    by kabong

    Instead of same old same old.

  • July 5, 2011, 11:27 a.m. CST


    by reni

    The Dead was awful. Great locations & 'Fulci' make up. But that is it. Fair play to the directors. They seem like nice guys. But filmmaking isn't their strong suit.

  • July 5, 2011, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Seriously, Enough with the Zombies.

    by TheLastCleric

    This subgenre is beyond played-out and has reached a level of tedium that is almost satirical. Also, Boyle’s “running zombies” was probably the last true innovation the genre has seen and that was nearly a decade ago. I’m also not buying the woes and tribulations of the production, as that strikes me as PR hyperbole being used to spread the word about what looks to be a low budget and fairly unimaginative flick. And isn’t malaria one of the first inoculations they give you when you go to places like Africa? Why the hell would the cast not have been vaccinated against a disease known to be the primary contagion of concern in third world nations?

  • July 5, 2011, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Double Negatives

    by barneyshouldbeputdown

    There isn’t a zombie film out there that I don’t want to see more than THE DEAD.

  • July 5, 2011, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Double Negatives pt. 2

    by barneyshouldbeputdown

    Referencing the above quote (the quotation marks disappeared)... it would be nice if AICN hosted writers capable of approaching a 12th grade level of composition and grammar.

  • July 5, 2011, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Eh, not that great.

    by Cobb05

    It looks ok and I'll check it out, but it doesn't look awesome. I can wait to see it. I'm still waiting for someone to make a great zombie film. We had all these zombie movies come out and no one has hit a home run. I know a lot of people like the Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Days Later. While they were good, I wouldn't say they are great. I was hugely excited about The Walking Dead, because I love the comics. Now, I know seaon one was just setting things up, so they didn't go all out, but I do think that the show will end up being one of the greatest zombie projects ever. But I still don't get why we have all these fans of the Romero films, but always drop the ball when it comes to plot and characters. To me that's what I didn't like about the Dawn remake. There wasn't enough human threat, it was all about the zombies. The great thing about the original was that the biker gang finds the mall and wants in. So you had to deal with them and the zombies. People seem to drop the ball with the human aspect and just go for the gore. African zombies doesn't seem that much of a threat to me. Zombies in an urban area is more scary cause they have more places to hide and greatert numbers. How scary are a few African zombies that you can see a mile away?

  • July 5, 2011, 12:49 p.m. CST

    The Horde Looks better than this shit.

    by Stalkeye

    The Dead? oh, how original of a title. Even Fulci's Zombi sounded cooler..oh, and not to mention that it's one of the best Zombie films bar none.

  • July 5, 2011, 12:56 p.m. CST

    @ Stalkeye Le Horde is a terrible film.

    by Roketopunch

    It's CGI gore, contrived script and predictability drag it down. It sucks! The Dead has to be superior!

  • July 5, 2011, 12:57 p.m. CST

    @ kabong! It's not a Hollywood film.

    by Roketopunch

    Get your facts right you tool!

  • July 5, 2011, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Zombbie movies must be hitting absolute rock bottom!!

    by notcher

    If this piece of shit is a film anybody can't wait to see. What crap!!! WTF??!!!


  • What the hell were you expecting from a foreign film? as for "contrived script and predictability " yeah, Fulci 's Zombi and Romero's NOTLD was accused of having the same merits and look how well that turned out to be. Horde is by means no masterpiece but by all means, it's no Uwe Boll production either.

  • July 5, 2011, 2:01 p.m. CST

    I hate running zombies!

    by Volllllume3

    Boyle and Snyder fucked up and commercialized an entire genre for the MTV crowd. Fuck those tools. I'll see this movie just because it's true to zombie lore.

  • July 5, 2011, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Is a mangotree a type of plant?

    by Ray Gamma

    Just asking.

  • Hey don't blame those guys, instead the fault lies therein Dan O Bannon who did Return of The Living Dead. Not only did it have fast zombies,(including the naked Linda Quigley) but Zombies who can actually think; "Send, more Copsssss". Classic fucking film.

  • July 5, 2011, 3:24 p.m. CST

    This was not good

    by OliverOnions

    Saw it at Fantastic Fest if I remember correctly. The story behind it was definitely much more interesting than the film itself. Bad acting and completely predictable jump scares otherwise. Sure, the location is different novel but the content sure wasn't.

  • July 5, 2011, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Is it possible for AICN to post a review without spoilers?

    by the_scream

    It can be done you know. Simply plonking down a "spoiler alert" every time is just lazy.

  • July 5, 2011, 4:26 p.m. CST

    No, it's not a Hollywood film. It's a youtube film

    by kabong

    by hacks trying to impress producers by churning out more of the same old same old, in the hope they can get a deal to shoot crap. <p> Yes, I know it's not really a "youtube" film. I'm just using that term to emphasize the derivative ineptitude. <p> <Going by the trailer, they only had one camera for each scene. <p> The only difference between these clowns and Michael Bay is $200 million in budget. <p> Burkina Faso was a nice backdrop, though.

  • July 5, 2011, 4:44 p.m. CST

    Did I just watch the same trailer as you guys?

    by bongo123

    Cause the one I watched looked fucking awful, piss poor acting, ropey action and the look & feel of a cheap syfy movie of the week, have had my fill with shitty zomb flicks and have well and truly wiped my hands with all things Romero, if they can't cut a 2min trailer and make me want to watch it i can only imagine what the whole film is like, nah this is a pass for me

  • July 5, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Awww..."the crew went thru hell!!!"

    by Ditko

    You guys get so easily excited. Yawn.

  • July 5, 2011, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Resident Evil IV

    by topaz4206

    ...did this better. Any CG cutscene from that game is way scarier and more atmospheric than the entirety of this trailer. But thank you for the heads-up -- I'll probably check it out on Netflix

  • July 5, 2011, 8:32 p.m. CST

    99% isn't enough for me.

    by Yelsaeb

    I hate to be that way, but CG gore just doesn't do it for me. I understand why it might be tempting to use it, but it just doesn't look good. Whenever I see it I'm just instantly taken out of the movie.

  • July 5, 2011, 9:21 p.m. CST

    When will this zombie crap end?

    by Oldnewbie

    Romero's flesh eating creations have haunted us for far too long. Zombies, classic old school zombies DO NOT eat the living. They are reanimated corpses that work at ngiht in the mills or cotton fields. Has everyone forgotten "White Zombie"?? This cannibal zombie crap is beyond tolerable. Romero's original was brilliant, but the rest of the genre has sucked.

  • July 5, 2011, 9:49 p.m. CST

    End secular zombie movies! Restore voodoo to its rightful place.

    by Julius Dithers

    Just kidding. Zombies are played out.

  • July 5, 2011, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Great...another movie where the black people are evil.

    by Cap'n Jack

  • July 5, 2011, 10:50 p.m. CST

    The white guy/black guy combo would be cooler...

    by schizoschizo

    ...if they played it like Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon movies, the white dude doing Three Stooges antics in his mullet while the black guy says shit like "I'm too old for this."

  • I would definitely be interested in a documentarty about making this film but the film looks like total crap. Poorly composed shots, no sense of story at all. Who is this guy? Why's he in Africa? Is this an isolated outbreak or worldwide? Sorry but random shots of zombies does not make a trailer that's worth a shit. If you can't even make an interesting trailer out of all your zombie footage, you definitely can't make an interesting zombie film. AICN is regularly bought-off so they have absolutely no credibility and not a single person reading this would form an opinion on a film based on what any AICN writer has to say for this reason.

  • July 6, 2011, 1:06 a.m. CST

    Re: malaria vaccine.

    by dockealy

    It doesn't exist.

  • July 6, 2011, 12:28 p.m. CST

    this move was really good

    by brian

    i saw this movie back in feb at cinaquest here in san jose, can i really loved it.

  • July 7, 2011, 1:47 p.m. CST

    If you're really tired of zombie movies...

    by ClaireRedfield

    Why the fuck did you click on an article about a zombie movie? Just so you could say how much you don't care? Just asking the obvious question. I know, I know. It's the internet. When you make broad generalizations and critique shit you haven't even seen, this is where you make your home. "Zombie movies are tired" Fuck you. And I'll tell you why. Romantic comedies are dead. Family dramas are dead. Quirky indie films are dead. Blockbuster summer action films are dead. Animated films are dead. If there is a genre or style that hasn't been beat to shit, that hasn't been plagued with shitty cheap cash grab movies, then I'd like you to please name it for me. A genre cannot be overdone. It's not fucking possible. YOU can be tired of it, you sopping wet vagina, but not everyone is. It may be plagued by amatuerish efforts, but that's not inherent in any way to the genre itself. This is why we went for years without a decent western, because assholes declared the western as "dead". Hollywood assholes who think they know what the "public" wants before the public does. When did fans become as idiotically jaded as the monkeysuited executives we used to vilify? There's are no dead genres. There are no "played out" stories. There are good movies, and bad movies. That's it. It's all in the execution.

  • July 7, 2011, 4:15 p.m. CST


    by Autodidact

    Zombie movies are going to be around for a long time. The good ones tend to focus on the survivors and not the zombies. My zombie movie would not have any guns in it... or at least very very few guns. Dawn of the Dead 2004 was great but every zombie movie since then tries to be DOTD or Left 4 Dead... I want to see a zombie movie with people holed up and hiding for 90 minutes, kinda like the original NOTLD.

  • I had the pleasure of seeing this film and it is beautifully shot on 35mm, so much so, it should be sold as an art house horror with slow moving zombies. These Ford Brothers are masters at painting with light, creating an epic feel (their work needs to be viewed on the big screen - NOT TV / You Tube) and they excel at creating atmospheric frames and pictures. The idea and script was written BEFORE Resident Evil IV and the there IS a black guy/white guy buddy journey across the plains/village of Africa. The black guy kills and butchers more black zombies that the white guy! HOWEVER... The lead character does needs more HEART, more soul. He is ok and the film's beauty does gloss over him, but because The Ford Brothers show me such jaw dropping frames and sequences I naturally want a jaw dropping, memorable lead character. These Ford Brothers are filmmakers in the craft sense - their strength is in their film making skills. They have proven their prowess and skills at the art of film making, let's see them with scripts they have not written - top notch stories with characters that will live on in our subconscious like all great characters do. To the Ford Brothers: you guys are amazing - but know your weaknesses: IF you guys put as much passion, real love, HEART, SOUL* as you put into your film making craft as you do your next lead character (choose you next script wisely), you guys could rock Hollywood! *If your next script does not have this, pass it by or if writer does not know what these are fire them. What will the Ford Brothers do next?! Go see this film and keep an eye on these guys.

  • I have seen a screening of "The Dead" and present a fair argument of what is great about this film and what need improving.