Dead Men Walking
Walk this way
I hate The Asylum film studio/distributor. You may think that hate is a strong word and I agree, but it's appropriate for my feelings towards this company. My animosity is two-fold: First, The Asylum resorts to making cheap horror films using the same names and plots as other, more popular horror films. A quick scan of their horror section (yes, they do other genres for some reason) brings up movies with such thinly-veiled titles as Snakes On A Train, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Transmorphers, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, H.G. Wells' War Of The Worlds, and Paranormal Entity. Part of their business plan is to piggy-back off the work and success of other movies in hopes that people accidentally buy their product thinking it's the movie they're actually looking for. My second point of contention is the severe lack of quality to their films. I don't expect anything from movies like Mega Python vs. Gatoroid or The 9/11 Commission Report. It's when the movie sound potentially good, thereby duping unsuspecting consumers just looking to for a decent horror movie. I've fallen into their trap (though at no cost, thankfully) and have sat through some very terrible movies. Feel free to go in the way-back machine and read my reviews on Zombie Apocalypse, Freakshow, The Beast Of Bray Road, and I Am Omega. If you don't feel like reading those reviews, I'll give you the short version: They all suck. Of course, it's not fair to just say every movie on their list is an abomination.
Dead Men Walking is an independent 2005 zombie movie starring Bay Bruner (Bachelor Party Massacre) as Samantha Beckett, an official with the Center For Disease Control. A man named Travis Dee is arrested after going on a murdering spree, shooting people infected with an unknown virus. Infected blood gets in his eyes and mouth and as he arrives at Haywood Maximum Security Prison, Travis has become very ill. He begins to vomit blood directly into the face of the prison doctor before being hauled off to solitary confinement. On the way, he vomits blood on several inmates. When he continues to vomit, a guard lets him out of his cell only to be bitten by a now-zombified Travis. He is shot in the head by the head guard, Lt. Sweeny (Chriss Anglin, Hillside Cannibals, Dracula's Curse), splattering blood on the guards. Beckett is sent to the prison and speaks with Johnny (Griff Furst, American Heiress, Alien Abduction) another prisoner who came in to Haywood with Travis. He explains that Travis was talking about a highly contagious toxin that had infected his friends, forcing him to kill them. The virus spreads throughout the prison, causing a full-scale zombie riot. The guards try to kill the zombies, but are soon overrun. The prison is put in lockdown Will Beckett and Johnny be able to escape the prison before it is too late?
It's pretty clear that the entire basis for Dead Men Walking came from the simple idea of “zombies in a prison”. It's actually a fun and different idea in terms of zombie movies. You already have plenty of weapons on hand, places to hide, and lots of disposable people to become zombies. Beyond that premise, there really isn't much going on in the movie. The plot is pretty thin and barely a whisper of social commentary. It's almost as if they started filming the movie without having a specific story that they wanted to tell. At least they gave a brief description of how the virus came about, something that a lot of other zombie movies don't even bother with. Granted, it's not a good explanation, but I appreciate the tiny effort. The acting is mediocre with Chriss Anglin putting in the best performance as Lt. Sweeny. He gets off a few funny lines and plays his role well. Bay Bruner is not too good, but this appears to be her first movie, so I'll cut her some slack. The Asylum has a habit of using the same actors for multiple movies. I have to assume that's because most other actors want nothing to do with them.
The movie has a lot of action and a large amount of blood and a decent amount of gore. Seriously, the movie should have just been called “Blood Vomit”. There are multiple scenes of entrails being ripped apart, and while it is gory, it's nothing you haven't seen before. The makeup for the zombies looks decent and there is good usage of prosthetics. For being a maximum security prison, there aren't a lot of guards in the movie. Hell, there's not that many prisoners. The movie has a habit of introducing unimportant characters in the middle of the movie without much explanation or forethought. Writer Mike Watt crams in different types of people who would be in a prison, like a woman visiting her man for a conjugal visit or a mother with two children visiting their father, just to kill them. That's all fine and good, but why do they just randomly pop up in the middle of the movie? It would have been better if they were introduced earlier and then we check in on them later on. By having them show up halfway through the movie, it kills the momentum and forces the audience to say “Wait. Who the hell is that?” The direction is fine, though certain scenes are a little too dark and make it difficult to see.
"Not on the first date!"
Dead Men Walking is a fun idea for a zombie movie. Unfortunately, that idea the best part of the film as the story goes nowhere and the acting leaves something to be desired. The movie does have a lot action and the zombies look decent. There is a lot of vomiting, so if you're sensitive to that, you may not want to eat before watching. Dead Men Walking is better than other movies by The Asylum, but that's not saying much. It has it's moments and if you're looking for a basic zombie movie, you could do worse. If you're looking for things like story, character development, or good acting, you should pass on Dead Men Walking.