Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: The Jurassic Dead

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2018
Images from the Internet

The Jurassic Dead (aka Z/Rex: The Jurassic Dead; Zombiesaurus)
Directed by Milko Davis; with Thomas Martwick
Wild Eye Releasing / Cyclopsdome / GAM3 / MVD Visual
82 minutes, 2017 / 2018

I kinda get it. I mean, there’s a whole subgenre of inane-yet-fun dinosaur flicks, especially involving the king/queen of them all, the T-Rex (only thing missing is Marc Bolan). As a small sampling, there’s Valley of the Gwangi (1969) and Carnosaur (well, the first one of three was 1993), among many others (does one want to include 1993’s A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell? Let’s not, okay?).

What gives this some validity and credibility, such as it is, is like Carnosaur, it doesn’t take itself quiiiiiite so seriously. I mean, there are clichés, cartoonish stereotypical characters, a mad scientist in a lair in the middle of the desert threatening the world, and of course the zombie dinosaur. First off, the cover makes it look like a T-Rex, but it’s actually more T-Rex shape in velociraptor size, but I’m not going to quibble over something that trivial when there is a world of wonder to look at here.

In some way, what this film reminds me of is Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy (2013) because nearly all the film is actually 3D Modelling, animation and green screen technology. Some of it actually looks really good, and some, well, not as much. Still, I’m impressed with the work that must have gone into it, and am willing to bet a lot of it was done on home computers using modelling software.

As for the story, the prologue sets up the insane anger of a dismissed professor/scientist, Wojick Borge (Cooper Elliot). After a car accident, he becomes evil, looking like a cross between the Phantom of the Paradise and Bane (including face mask). He has a massive and serpentine lair that looks like a flattened pyramid out in the desert, though there is no explanation of how a professor could afford it. This is something Lex Trump-thor would look at and say, “Looks pricey.”

Back: Klosterman and Singer
Front: Goeke and Johnson
After the prologue, we are introduced to two groups of people who encounter each other on the road to… well, we all know where they are going to end up, don’t we. The first is two couples: nerds and stoners* Sadie (Mia Klosterman, who is also a singer) and Cameron (Adam Singer), and Sadie’s bleach blonde cheerleader sister Roxanne (Nicole Goeke) and her football player b/f and macho moron Gunnar (well played by Ben Johnson, who often plays Superman in Justice League shorts); Gunnar likes to say the word “Bro” in as many sentences as he can. Yeah, they’re all stereotypes, but the good thing is that the viewer doesn’t really need much exposition about the characters.

Gonzalez, Pennington, Haman, La Page, Perry
The other SUV contains 5, err… Well, they’re pretending to be military, but they could be mercenaries… but from the looks of it and their conversations, it’s probably just some right wing militia (more about this later). There’s the lone female Cuchilla (Raquel Pennington, from the UFC, whose character seems to be based on Private Vasquez in 1986’s Aliens), the redneck and racist Spivey (Shale Le Page), the cop wannabe Swat (Juan Gonzalez), the sole person of color, Stick (Ruselis Aumeen Perry), and the bullish and muscular leader of the pack, Duque (Andy Haman, the IFBB Pro Champion Bodybuilder in his screen debut and doing a bang-up, comic book Sgt. Rock-ish performance). There is even a shot of the five of them walking side by side, in slo-mo, Tarrantino/Reservoir Dogs (1992) style, which has become a trope used often in many films.

Then of course there is the dino, who is injected with some green glowing liquid that brings him back to life (reminiscent of the goo from 1985’s Re-Animator). He’s cool looking and moves a bit clumsily though not too bad, and has a temper… oh, and glowing green (or, when angry, red) eyes. He is unkillable and a zombie. When he (I’m assuming it’s a “he”) kills someone, they also come back as glowingly green-eyed zombies.

After the two sets of people meet up and get separated into smaller and mixed groups in the lair of the loony, the action picks up as they get taken down one-by-one by reptile or human zombies. Interestingly, they keep some of their humanity and growl a lot, and they walk rather than stumble or run, thereby being neither slow, nor fast zombies. They move stiffly but steadily, more like Jason or Michael.

While all this is going on, our mad professor is planning to explode his chemicals all over the world, creating an earth of zombies, again I am assuming, under his command. There are computers and timers counting down all over da joint throughout the film.

I’m not sure if this qualifies or is meant to be an actual comedy, but definitely a dramedy. There are lots of parts that are snarky, especially the swipes at the gun lobby / alt right mentality of the furious five.

I did have some issues with the film in the fact that there is no logic or sometimes a lack of consistency within the story. For example, an object falls from the sky, causing a pulse that kills all the electricity in the area, including cars, phones, etc., and yet a helicopter works. In another example, the doors are solid steel, and yet bullets shatter it into small pieces.

With all the flaws, this kind of works, though it really is silly and nonsensical in a lot of ways, but so were the films I mentioned in the first paragraph. It’s perfectly summed up during the credits when we see each character turn into a cartoon of themselves. There is even a sequel in the works for 2019 called Z/Rex: Dead War.

* Speaking of Bolan, I kept hearing the song “Bang-a-Gong” whenever the weed was passed around.

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