Ginger Nuts of Horror
I have seen a lot of horror movies which fall into the 'so bad they are good' category, but 'Dead Kansas' isn't one of them, it just seemed to have been made as a labour of love, with the best of intentions and yet missed the mark in many ways.
The overall feel is that it is trying to capture the essence of The Walking Dead but seriously lacks a cast with the acting chops necessary to keep fans of the genre satisfied. There's not a single Rick, Michonne or Carol among them, and absolutely no Daryl. If the characters are not exactly earth-shattering surely you could throw a load of zombies into the proceedings and make it a gore-fest instead, but no, this film is very lean on zombies, so lean in fact that it's actually closer to being a human-interest or coming-of-age story than a zombie flick. Post-apocalyptic zombies aka 'Rottens' are apparently everywhere, but we don't get to see any until the last few minutes of the 64 minute running time and what we do get to see are a few under-made-up people with white contact lenses. I've done better make-up effects for kiddies Halloween parties, sorry, but I have, and on a smaller budget too, so there's really no excuse not to have had something at least part-ways presentable here.
A farmer 'Glen' (Aaron Guerrero) and his teenage daughter 'Emma' (played for some unknown reason by three unrelated actresses, Madison Mendez in a flashback, and Alexandria Lightford/Erin Miracle in the present.) are being hunted not only by the 'Rottens' but also by a gang fronted by Jebediah (Michael Camp) who want to kidnap Emma as women are in short supply and they can trade her to a rich guy for everything they need.
The 'Rottens' are zombies by inference; it's a 'rage virus' thing. The gang more rotten by nature, the usual assortment of macho posturing thugs who for some reason seem to have been infected by a nodding virus.
Bring on almost every stereotype possible and acting with a delivery reminiscent of kindergarten Christmas plays and you have Dead Kansas. It's unfortunate as this film does have a sense of 'being' as if it is a production with more of a sense of play than any serious intent and it even has a few familiar faces thrown into the mix. The humour is scant and often misplaced, Irwin Keyes (House of 1000 Corpses) is underused and appears somewhat lost, Juliette Danielle (The Room) has so little screen time I've had sneezes that lasted longer and even the late Ben Woolf (American Horror Story) was so mishandled that he brought nothing to this in what was clearly meant to be a comedic role.
I would say that for this film to work it would take a Miracle, but the funny thing is that it had one. Roughly half way through the film arguably the main character Emma (Alexandria Lightford) goes for a five mile walk during which she becomes Emma (Erin Miracle). We're not supposed to notice the switch of actress, but it's ever so slightly obvious given her change of hair, eyes, face, clothes, and shoes and so on. No explanation given. Erin Miracle does however improve the film, as she does appear to have taken acting classes at some point which seem sadly lacking in much of the rest of the cast.
Basically the whole film is a bit of a mess, but that's ok I guess as this film was actually originally five 'webisodes' on YouTube, which would account for the poor editing and change of actress.
I could say it would win no awards, but oddly enough it HAS. It got 'Best Zombie Movie' at the FANtastic Horror Film Festival.
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