Director: Aaron K. Carter
Starring: Erin Miracle, Alexandria Lightford, Aaron Guerrero
Out on Amazon Instant now – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U143XLI
Live In Hell Long Enough…Everyone Turns Into A Demon.
In post-apocalyptic Kansas, a farmer and his daughter must fight to survive not only against the living dead, known exclusively in the film as “rottens”, but also a desperate and dangerous gang of delinquents. Glen, the father, has done a decent job of protecting said daughter, Emma, until the leader of the gang hatches a plan to kidnap her and sell her off for the sake of continuing the human race and obtaining better supplies for his followers. The initial faceoff leads viewers into a plot that involves “freaks”, a tornado (there may be a sprinkling of Wizard of Oz within), and more than a little bit of offbeat humor.
Low budget zombie films are a dime a dozen, and, like most, Dead Kansas suffers most from a lack of experience and limited scope. Films such as the Zombie Bloodbath trilogy and The Dead Next Door covered their blemishes with gore and practical effects, but Dead Kansas never builds the momentum to a blood soaked finale and I was a bit disappointed that such a traditionally over the top genre was never reflected in the film. However, for all of its flaws Dead Kansas still manages to entertain with a bit of heart and creativity.
To give credit where it is due, Dead Kansas does not show its zombies until the conclusion of the film, instead opting to set up a black and white, point of view shot whenever a rotten attacks. Simple, effective, first person perspective gives viewers brief opportunities to follow the shambling resurrected, who are quickly dispatched via a variety weapons, including at one point, a pitch fork. Although these shots are brief, I enjoyed the attempt to put a new spin on an old trope. Even the camera falls as the rotten collapses, giving an almost arcade rail shooter feel to each rotten attack.
Like most lower budget films, the acting leaves a bit to be desired. Aaron Guerrero shows the mot restraint and some natural chops with his portrayal of Glenn, the father, and even Alexandria Lightford as Emma has potential early on in the first and second act. However, Alexandria is replaced with another actress halfway through the film and not only is it noticeable, but it changes the audience’s initial interest in the character’s progression. Several cameos pop up along the way, including Irwin Keyes (Ravelli from House of 1000 Corpses) and Ben Woolf (Meep/Infantata from American Horror Story), which give the film some cheesy fun, but ultimately the majority of characters are underdeveloped and overplayed.
As a music fan I was left with a desire for something more fitting of the story and even though I understand how a limited budget can affect choices during production, the songs were repetitive and lacked a strong punch. A more traditional horror score may have gone a long way in changing the vibe of Dead Kansas, and even when sound effects were used to enhance a rotten’s appearance, these moments were too short to hit home any sense of urgency.
To be completely clear and honest, I love all horror films. That may seem like a tall statement, but the genre is near and dear to my heart. Dead Kansas is not a masterpiece in any sense of the word, but it is clear that these folks have attempted to contribute something unique to horror culture. Falling short of the mark at times, Dead Kansas is worth watching for its amateur passion and sometimes stylish approach. Do not expect to be blown away, but watch with an open mind and a sense of camaraderie for a genre where all, including the budding aficionado, are welcome.
Amazon Instant Video – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U143XLI
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/deadkansas