Like many, I'm a fan of Quentin Tarantino. I am not however, a fan of those that try to imitate him. For years, many a director and writer has tried and failed to copy the pulpy dialogue and operatic violence of Tarantino's work, but has come up short (I'm looking at you, Troy Duffy). Well, you can add the 2006 films "Dead & Deader" and "Devil's Den" as examples of horror films that try to be like the master.
"Deader" tells the tale of Lt. Bobby Quinn (Dean Cain), who comes back as a walking, talking and fighting corpse-and to make matters worse, many of his old army pals are zombies. So, can Quinn find out why this is all happening (and why he's dead but not quite) with the help of his new pals in cook Judson (Guy Torry) and hot nerd girl Holly (Susan Ward)?
If "Dead & Deader" has anything going for it, it's the effective and messy gore FX (surprising considering it started out as a TV movie-but it was from Sy-Fy, who let their movies get away with more in the gore department) and the presence of fine character actors like Peter Greene adding a little something to it. Sadly, much of "Dead & Deader" is yet another forgettable zombie-comedy that came out after "Shaun of the Dead." Only a few performances ring true, with Cain coming off as even blander than usual, and Torry being incredibly over the top and annoying as Judson. The biggest fault though, is the script, with the dialogue coming off like banter from an internet message board. I'm sorry, but a lot of movies with people talking about things like "Star Wars", "Dawn of the Dead" (both) and "James Bond" in attempts to gain geek cred are just sad.
On the other side of the coin is "Devil's Den", which is essentially a "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" knock-off. In this film, three strangers-Quinn (Devon Sawa), Caitlin (Kelly Hu) and Leonard (Ken Foree) who end up in a strip club that's inhabited by flesh eating demons. To make matters worse, Caitlin is after Quinn, and an all around hot woman named Candy (Karen Maxwell) isn't all that she seems...
Apart from the fact that it's a knock-off of a film Tarantino wrote and co-starred in, "Devil's Den" is guilty of a really forced bit revolving Zatoichi the Blind Samurai that's so painfully obvious it hurts. Apart from that, "Devil's Den" is a shockingly decent time waster that thankfully doesn't spend too much time trying to be like Tarantino or obtain geek cred. The acting (save for Sawa, whose just annoying) is good, the boobs and blood are ample, and the humor is hit and miss, though there are some funny moments and one liners along the way.
As a whole, "Dead & Deader" tries way too hard and just comes off as obnoxious, while "Devil's Den" is a not too memorable but watchable Saturday afternoon horror movie.
Rating: Dead and Deader-3/10
"Den" was directed by Jeff Burr, whose credits include "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3", "The Stepfather 2", the anthology film "The Offspring", "Puppet Master 4" and the horror/war movie hybrid "Straight into Darkness."
"Deader" was co-written by Mark A. Altman, whose credits include "Free Enterprise", the notoriously bad Uwe Boll film "House of the Dead" and it's sequel, "All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos", the vampire film "The Thirst", and the supernatural horror film "Room 6."