It is no secret that I love Zombie films, but I will admit, like many, I have become complacent over the years. I am perfectly content, in most instances, to revel in T and A, a shit ton of gore and a quick and easy story line. How did they turn? Why? Is there hope? Will anyone survive? No one knows, No one knows, Nope, no hope and no. Ninety minutes and I'm done. That is why I really had a good time with Writer/Producer Kelly Parks' film Universal Dead. Originally shown in 2010, Universal Dead, began as a three episode web series to gain money for the eventual feature and managed to gain quite a following, even being picked as a highlight for the 2010 Comic Con: http://io9.com/5596813/the-biggest-winners-and-losers-of-comic-con-2010
The film begins five years into the pandemic and follows top CDC researcher, Dr. Macavoy (Gary Graham) as he is being escorted by Captain Trent (DB Sweeney) to an undisclosed military base 40 miles outside of San Diego to view a presentation by renowned physicist and loony tune Dr. Vataber (Doug Jones) on what may have actually caused the outbreak. Without giving anything away, the proverbial "shit" hits the fan pretty damn quick, but not before the science behind Dr. Vataber's theory is brought to light. Ultimately, that is what grabbed me by the short and curlies kiddies, the Science! Parks, an avid Sci-Fi/Horror geek with a flair for the scientific, loves the Zombie genre as much as the rest of us, but could never really buy into the notion that it was a virus causing all hell to break loose. Well rest assured, because the cause behind Doomsday is hardly a virus, but a really cool spin on the Zombie phenom. It is pure and unadulterated Science Fiction baby!!!!
Parks and his partners dealt with a shoestring budget and I have to give them credit, they used the money well. They managed to shoot the film in four days using only two locations, the lighting and camera work are spot on and, unlike many independent Horror films, a great deal of attention went into the story and definitely the performance aspect of the film, which is no surprise given the impressive resumes of the films leads. DB Sweeney (Jericho and A Fire in the Sky), Gary Graham (Alien Nation the TV show, Star Trek: Enterprise, Robot Jox), Doug Jones (Hellboy, Hellboy II, Pan's Labyrinth and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) as well as new comer Valerie Perez. Universal Dead has a little something for all of us. Blood, guns, Zombies, Mad Science, outlandish theories and manages to tie it all up into one awesome para-militaristic madhouse. With only a fifteen minute running time, Parks had only a small window of opportunity to wet the whistles of would be fans, and succeeded with flying colors.
Why have you not seen Universal Dead you may ask, well there is a cautionary tale to this fine project. However, it is irrelevant, the important thing to remember is that even after four years, Parks has the passion and confidence to know that this project is worth fighting for. Which is why it is vital to remember that a film is a long term relationship, not a one night stand. I've seen it three times now, and I have to say I have enjoyed it more each time. So, do yourselves a solid, in fact do all of us independents a solid, and support Kelly Parks and Universal Dead. Amazon link below, and follow him @KellyParks for Universal Dead updates. Oh, and beware the IMP's.
As for me, things have been a bit hectic here in my Pittsburgh stronghold while in the throws of post production for my movie Meltdown. Alas I was forced to skin my editor alive and cast him into the pit of lemon juice and broken Colt 45 bottles, shortly after I received a request from the Berlin office to review Universal Dead, and given the poor screaming bastard in the cellar I figured, what the hell? Keep tabs on me here and @ProjectMeltdown. Thank you for reading, and as always, keep it scary.