Saturday, May 24, 2008


Have you ever felt a certain kinship with a movie? Whatever the reason--it was filmed in your hometown, the main character's uncanny resemblance to you, a story that shares your same peculiar sensibility--many of us have cinematic soulmates, movies that may be flawed, yet we look past them due to a personal connection. I felt a brief flicker of such emotions sitting down to watch DEAD SUMMER, which was not only shot in my backyard (although living in western PA all my life, zombie pictures in my neighborhood are nothing new) but bears a similarity to a story I wrote long ago called "Dead of Summer," written shortly after I met the woman who'd be my wife. Both my story and this movie deals with young people bored and displaced amidst a zombie outbreak, sorting out various romantic and personal issues when not killing the living dead. (Not to be a braggart, but my take was more about the frustration of having your collegiate and career plans cut off by the apocalypse--a metaphor for the ennui of being a working-class twentysomething with minimal job prospects--that would've worked if the zombie angle wasn't as rote and mechanical as the films I bitch about.) So, long story longer, I immediately felt a connection with this 2005 shot-on-video production even before I slipped it in the DVD player.

Two minutes in, that camaraderie was broken.

Wow, what a piece of shit this thing was. (Let me just clarify, I'm in no way bashing this thing because I think my story was "better;" from here on, the ire is purely from the disgust of wasting 70 minutes minutes on unbearably bad filmmaking.) A self-described "flick" by director Eddie Benevich--okay, so he doesn't take himself seriously, that's good because he doesn't take his movie seriously, either--it centers on a group of backward-cap wearing Neanderthal fucks and their equally vacuous girlfriends, a group of such aggressively obnoxious assholes that I wanted them dead literally the moment they opened their mouths. We're supposed to sympathize with any of these people? You'd meet a more empathetic group at a frathouse kegger. It's boring and plotless parade of vignettes as this odious clique kills zombies, butts heads with a rival survivor, and just, y'know, hangs out.

Making these assholes even more insufferable is the abysmal sound quality that--thankfully at times--renders the dialogue inaudible, a perfect compliment to the inept writing, photography, direction, and acting that permeates this shitburger. (Oh, and the zombie make-up is terrible, too.) Eavesdrop on a random conversation, it's bound to be more interesting than anything that happens in this thing.

Completely unoriginal in every regard, DEAD SUMMER could've been a lost film--I couldn't find a listing on IMDB, nor did YouTube yield any clips, even some minimal Googling turned nothing up--if it hadn't been passed off on DVD under the DIARIES OF THE DEAD DOUBLE FEATURE, paired with the just-as-painful Spanish production DEADHUNTERS. And that's a shame, because cinematic evolution should've rightly sent this piece of crap into oblivion, to be forgotten forever more.

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