Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hood of the Living Dead

Written and directed by Ed and Jose Quiroz, 2005

Hood of the Living Dead had a lot to live up to even before the opening credits began. First, any play on "...of the living dead" invokes His Holiness Mr. Romero and instantly sets up a high standard to which many movies cannot afford to aspire. And second, my movie-watching companion professed doubt that any urban horror film would surpass the seminal Leprechaun In the Hood. Skeptical, we settled in to watch.

We were rewarded with a surprisingly sincere and good-hearted zombie film. Oh, certainly the budget is low, and of course the directors' amateurs friends populate the cast, but Hood of the Living Dead loves zombie cinema. Cheap? Yeah. But when it’s this cheap, you can clearly ee where LOVE holds it together.

Ricky works in a lab during the day and as a surrogate parent to his younger brother at night. He dreams of moving out of Oakland. Before this planned escape, however, his brother is shot to death in a drive-by. Ricky's keen scientific mind presents an option superior to CPR or 911: injections of his lab's experimental regenerative formula. Sadly, little bro wakes up in an ambulance as a bloodthirsty Oakland zombie! Chaos and mayhem! I think it's more economical to eat your enemies than take vengeance in a drive-by, but then again, I'm a poor judge of the complexities of urban life. (How poor a judge? In response to a gory scene involving four men, I opined "Ah-ha! White t-shirts on everyone so the blood shows up. Economical! I used the same technique in my own low-budget horror film." Jordan replied, "No, that's gang dress. White t-shirts were banned from New Orleans bars for a time as a result." Oh.)

A lot of the movie is set in someone's living room, so there's a great deal of hanging out and waiting for the zombies. But the characters are sympathetic and the movie is sincere-- it surpasses its budget in spirit.

Zombie explanation: When man plays God, zombies arise! Or, perhaps: Follow FDA-approved testing rules before human experimentation!

Contribution to the zombie canon: This is the first zombie movie I've seen with a drive-by shooting. As far as the actual zombies go, infection is spread with a bite as usual, but quite unusually head shots don't work-- it's heart shots that kill. Zombies have pulses, the absence of which proves true death. And these zombies make pretty cool jaguar-growl noises.

Gratuitous zombie movie in-joke: A mercenary named Romero. Groan.

Favorite zombie: Jaguar-noise little brother zombie, of course!

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