Zombies In Kansas
Bruce Von Stiers
A while back a Facebook friend, Aaron K. Carter, was posting about a horror film he'd done. Actually it was originally a five part limited web series that Aaron had made. He did some whizzbang stuff and make a feature out of it. The title of the film is Dead Kansas. I gave Aaron a hard time about the title, letting him know that, hey, I live in Kansas.
Not to be deterred, Aaron sent me a copy of the film to review. It came on a DVD as half of a double feature. The other film was An Hour To Kill, which I'll cover in a different review.
Aaron is an indie director and producer. Besides this film, Aaron has written, directed and produced a few more, including An Hour To Kill.
Dead Kansas is, you guessed it, a zombie film. But not exactly your average zombie film. With one exception, you really don't get to see the zombies. You only get to see what they are trying to do. I'll tell you about that later. As a full film, Dead Kansas was originally released in 2013.
The opening has a man, Glenn, and daughter Emma, getting ready to burn something. He has a homemade cross, says a short prayer and then lights a match. The daughter says that she doesn't think it's dead, but dad says he shot it right in the head. Then he takes a shotgun and shoots again, but we don't see what he's shooting.
Glenn was played by Aaron Guerreo. He played a hitman in An Hour To Kill.
Next we get to see a meeting with some kind of club leader and his guys. The leader, Jebediah, tells them there is a man who can help them out. But the man needs a woman so he can procreate and bring forth a child to inherit his wealth etc. Apparently a woman like the one he desires doesn't exist, but a girl who lives down the road does. So it becomes the goal of this gang of misfits to try to grab the girl and hand her over to the man so he can impregnate her.
Michael Camp played Jebediah. He was in a segment of An Hour To Kill, the film I mentioned earlier. Michael also helped out with several crew functions behind the camera.
The girl, Emma, is bored silly at their homestead. All she does is “pick vegetables and shoot Rottens.” Rottens is the name that everyone has given the zombies.
Emma was played by two different actors, Erin Miracle and Alexandria Lightford. Alexandria only has one other film credit listed in IMDB. As for Erin, she has fifteen acting credits to her name, as well as several directing, producing and writing credits. Alexandria is in the very first part of the film and Erin in the rest.
Jebediah and a few of his guys go over and visit with Glenn. Jeb tells him they want the girl and spews some misrepresentation of a Bible verse about going forth and multiplying. An altercation breaks out and a couple of Jeb's men are killed. For pretty much all of the film, Jebediah is called Jeb. Then one of the Rottens comes up behind Jeb's brother Zeke, and bites him. You don't see the actual zombie and what he does. You only get black and white background scenery with a jostling camera movement. Jeb has to shoot his brother in the head. I guess that's the only way to kill a Rotten for good.
A tornado, another zombie bite and an arm amputation later, Emma seeks out help. She takes her dad to Shambles, a kind of strange sanctuary. Skinny, kind of the place's guard, takes them in. There they encounter Giant, one of the people helping out, and Squeaky, the head of the sanctuary.
From there things turn a bit more strange than they already have been. Jeb's on the war path and wants the girl and to avenge his brother. Emma and Skinny leave to seek out a doctor who could help Glenn.
The film moves along very familiar plot lines. Bad eople are after Emma. She tries to evade capture but gets caught anyway. People try to rescue her so that they can not only save her life, but her virtue as well. And, everyone is trying to either escape or kill off all the Rottens. There is a flashback scene at a bar that involves Rebecca, Glenn's wife and Emma's mom. Rebecca is played by Juliette Danielle. She is known for her lead role in the 2003 film The Room and has been in a whole bunch of films since.
Oh, on top of everything else, there might be a cure just around the corner, but somehow Emma is the key to making that happen. So she has to be rescued one way or another.
Most of the people in the film had little or no acting experience. And as such, I pretty much gave a pass to most of the dialog and actions from the secondary actors in the film. A few of the secondary actors were Adam Ledezma, Darryl Dick and Jose M. Blackman. Adam had more of a role behind the camera than in front of it.
Anthony Della Catena had a bit more meaty role in the film as Leo and Kevin C. Beardsley played both Zeke and Randy, the doctor's assistant and co-rescuer of Emma.
The primary actors did a fair job with their dialog, some better than others. Both Aaron and Michael put forth adequate performances. As did Joe McQueen, who played Skinny. Instead of being cheesy or over the top, Erin did pretty well with playing both the victim and defiant savior of her father.
Two of the people acting in the film are pretty easily recognizable. Irwin Keyes plays Giant and Ben Woolf plays Squeaky. Ben was on American Horror Story. And Irwin had many roles over the years, including a recurring role on The Jeffersons, where a line of dialog from one of his scenes in that show became kind of a catchphrase for a while. Unfortunately both Irwin and Ben died in 2015.
I don't think that Dead Kansas set out to be a masterpiece of horror cinema. It did have drama and horror with a bit of humor thrown in. It was kind of your typical B horror film but without the usual gore and nudity. In fact, the only thing naked in the film was a mannequin that some of Jeb's guys clowned around with. And the gore was so limited that it was almost nonexistent.
If you like B zombie horror films that are fun but don't have gore or nudity, then Dead Kansas might be a film to check out.
Dead Kansas is available at various online venues such as Oldies.com and traditional film outlets. You can also stream it on apps like Fearflix and on Amazon Prime.
There is a Facebook page for the film where you can see stills and find purchasing information. That page is https://www.facebook.com/deadkansas/
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© 2021 Bruce E Von Stiers