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  Dead, The African Undead
Year: 2010
Director: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Stars: Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia, David Dontoh, Sergho Dak Jean Gustaphe, Elizabeth Akingbade, Benjamin C. Akpa, Anthony Arinze, Genardo Campbell, Mark Chapman, Ben Crowe, Anne Davaud, Ofuya Elias, Benjamin James Elliot, Amanda Ford, Dan Morgan
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: In West Africa, there has been a terrible outbreak of plague, but this affliction has led to the dead walking and taking bites out of the living. This has resulted in a mass evacuation of the area, but for engineer Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) things are going from bad to worse as while he managed to board one of the few planes out of the region, the craft had been damaged in its escape and it crashed off the coast, leaving him one of the sole survivors. Where can he go now while avoiding the zombies?

Here's one of those films where the story behind it was more interesting than what ended up on screen. Behind the scenes co-directing brothers Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford had opted to visit actual locations in Africa, Ghana and Burkina Faso to be exact, to offer their undead tale a distinctive appearance, but working with such a low budget as they had they found a lot of their cash was going towards backhanders in the direction of the authorities to keep things running smoothly. Not that they did run smoothly in the event, as among other things their star Freeman contracted malaria, another setback they assuredly did not need.

Not to be confused with John Huston's final film, this The Dead was yet another zombie flick in a market already flooded with them, so you might have hoped that by going to all that trouble the Fords would have something fresh to say about the genre. As it turned out, by bringing it to the Third World they did have a theme about how Africans were afflicted by regular disasters on a human scale, or so it seemed to those outside the continent, but that only went so far. In the main, this was about Murphy (presumably named after the star of George and Mildred - no? Oh, OK) avoiding the slow but ever-present walking dead.

Certainly the insistent quality of the zombies was well portrayed, and the African environment gave proceedings a different look from your average horror in this style, but it was not quite enough. With almost everyone rather restrained for most of the running time, as if numbed by the tragedy instead of whipped up into a hysteria, excitement was thin on the ground and Freeman barely spoke a word until around half an hour in. He was joined on his trek to safety by a local soldier, Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia), making this a road movie of sorts, again not a bad idea for a chiller.

Yet the fact remained that where it counted, the Fords failed to think up anything more original than "zombies attack - leads run from zombies - leads tramp through desert plains" repeated until the ending, and after a while this grew pretty monotonous. For the opening stages, this was fine, with a novel location for a horror movie and undead reminscent of Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters with a spate of pale blue contact lenses inflicted on the African cast members to offer them that otherwordly look, but it fast became clear there were very few other tricks up the filmmakers' sleeves. A plot about tracking down Daniel's son emerges to lend some meaning to the quest, as does Murphy's dreams of returning to the open arms of his wife and daughter, but there was little emotional resonance when both of the main characters gave so little else away. Obviously they were operating with what meagre budget they had, but for all the trials and tribulations they went through you'll wish the results were more exciting. Music by Imran Ahmad.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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