LORD OF THE DEAD (DVD)

3 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 100 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

Lord of the Dead opens like a “Tales from the Darkside” episode…Fires of hell surround you in the opening credits. A simple but creepy soundtrack pervades the imagery with a sense of cartoonish anguish and damnation. And then you meet Steve. Steve is a bumbling, semi-retarded, annoying, blithering idiot of a human being with about as much sense as a garden gnome. But there is something sweet and innocent about him, as well as something disturbing in a way that we can’t quite put our fingers on. Steve is a happy fellow, and he is a genuinely nice guy. Which is why its so shocking when the killings start. And there are killings aplenty.

Steve, in his infantile innocence, gets into an accident on his bike one day and is helped by a gracious Good Samaritan who also happens to be a cute blonde nurse who finds something (I don’t know what) sexy about Steve. What are the odds? But it’s pretty entertaining to watch it happen. When Steve just can’t seem to get the “bad” notions that he’s a killer out of his head, the nurse takes him to a psychiatrist to get some help. Here unfolds a fantastic tale of rubber band factories, magic books, evil demons, spells, and true love worthy of a half-hour midnight showing on “Tales from the Crypt”. Steve’s problems are more complex, more frightening, and more difficult to remedy than anyone could have foreseen…

“Lord of the Dead” does what most independent horror flicks don’t; it uses great special effects and makeup with skill and grace. Writer/Director Greg Parker didn’t attempt any effects he couldn’t pull off at least moderately well, and some are really quite good. You can see where most of the budget went: into creating fun and over-the-top special effects that far surpass the rest of the film. Impressive as well is the Argento-esque lighting and varied soundtrack.

“Lord of the Dead” also employs a funny premise; something independent horror films don’t often do well. It is comical and simple, and doesn’t try to hard to be shocking or offensive. Almost fairy tale-like in storytelling technique, “Lord of the Dead” really hides a very reflective philosophy behind the gore and the makeup. One man’s desperate desire for love and acceptance, and subsequent loss of everything he cares about, ends in a violent and hopeless massacre. It’s not really funny if you put it like that, but because Parker is able to create an atmosphere of childlike sincerity in his film, and a truly sympathetic creature in Steve, the tragedy of the tale doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the lightheartedness of the jokes.

Aside from the animated portrayal of Steve, the rest of the cast is fairly uninteresting. Though technically clever when focusing on gags, at other times the camera work and editing are somewhat uninspired. “Lord of the Dead” suffers from that malady so often afflicting low budget indie horror: small budget. It’s just impossible to achieve the technical standard the film industry demands when the budget is focused on creating effects. Editing and cinematography end up suffering and are the downfall of this film. They are what ultimately will keep it from being taken seriously. The direction and the writing are very polished, on the other hand, and the storyline is a refreshing break from offensive, in your face, gory, filthy, gross-out horror flicks with no plot and no character development.

“Lord of the Dead” deserves to be seen above other independent horror films if for no other reason than it is actually quite a touching story with a lot to offer an audience by ways of characters, plot, and some really cool special effects that aren’t embarrassing…



Posted on October 28, 2005 in Reviews by
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