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Dead Kansas - Movie Review

4 stars

Produced and directed by Aaron K. Carter, Dead Kansas is the current darling of the underground zombie genre. The horror-comedy is as independently spirited as modern filmmaking gets. It’s raw, comically acted, and absolutely inventive in how it portrays the zombie apocalypse with a heavy POV use from attacking zombies. It is also, thankfully, NOT for mainstream audiences. This one will remain among the freaks and geeks in the horror hound society.

Carter knows his select audience and he plays to their demented interests (mine included) with goofball characters, extreme situations (a man hacks his own zombie-bitten arm off), jokey dialogue, and – as if that wasn’t enough – replaces the leading actress halfway through his five act movie without any explanation to the audience. Yet, all of the quirky elements work in the movie’s favor and earns it respectable praise and my own personal recommendation if ever you find yourself with the opportunity to watch it. It certainly beats anything Hollywood put out this weekend.

"Filmed in the days before the phenomenon that is The Walking Dead, Carter’s Dead Kansas is the trip down Zombie Lane you never knew you needed to go on."

Set in the Midwest (but filmed in and around the streets of Los Angeles), Dead Kansas is the story of Emma (Alexandria Lightford and then, after Lightford became pregnant and had to drop out of the production, Erin Miracle) and her father, Glenn (Aaron Guerrero) in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. A brief flashback, smartly situated toward the latter part of the movie, explains that the flesh-munching curse began amongst the women of the population and adds credibility to some of the sexist remarks made early on.

When a twister changes their chances for survival, Emma finds herself surrounded by tent show carnival freaks – including genre regular Irwin Keyes (House of 1000 Corpses) – and soon she’s on a mission to find Doctor Emerson (Darryl Dick) before the conniving Jebediah (Michael Camp) and his horny brotherhood get their hands on her. It’s a clever combination of The Wizard of Oz and the horror genre as Emma discovers the she can never go home again.  It co-stars vertern genre talents like Ben Woolf (American Horror Story: Freakshow), Joe McQueen (Confessions Of A SuperHero) and Juliette Danielle (The Room).  {googleAds}

The guerrilla shooting style of the film lends itself to a mixture of long and short takes, sometimes this works and sometimes, as is the case with the basement scenes between Lightford and Guerro, it doesn’t. I understand the save time and money thought behind such acts; however, the long takes do seem to pull the zippy energy of the film down a bit. There is one incredibly accomplished shot that has three actors forming a sort of frame for the lens as they argue their positions for the audience. The low angle shot is pretty memorable. In fact, there are a lot of shots in Carter’s film that absolutely work.

Dead Kansas - Movie Review

While never overboard with gruesome bits, the POV of the zombie attacks are insanely clever and help – as the color switches to their “sight” in black-and-white – establish the grim reality that a plague of zombies suggest to the groups of survivors. Carter also manages to pull us in to the journey Emma embarks upon when her own self becomes the victim of a kidnapping after an ambush inside a house with a secret laboratory.

The film, running just over 60-minutes, has been featured in several film festivals. It won the Best Cast Performance award at the Late Night Downey Film Festival. Lead actress Erin Miracle won best actress there, too. The film has also won Best Opening Scene and Best Severed Appendage at the Zed Fest Film Festival and was selected to be presented at the Saturn Award Gift Bag. In San Diego, the film won Best Zombie Film at The FANtastic Horror Film Festival. It currently can be viewed on Amazon Instant Video (or here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U143XLI).

Filmed in the days before the phenomenon that is The Walking Dead, Carter’s Dead Kansas is the trip down Zombie Lane you never knew you needed to go on.


[tab title="Film Details"]

Dead Kansas - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
64 mins
: Aaron K. Carter
Aaron K. Carter
Erin Miracle, Alexandria Lightford, Aaron Guerrero
: Horror
Live In Hell Long Enough... Everyone Turns Into A Demon
Memorable Movie Quote: "Just imagine putting a bunch of crazy musicians together and telling them to go have a good time together."
Rotten productions
Official Site: http://deadkansas.com/
Release Date:
September 24, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
no details available
Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic land consumed by "Rottens", a simple farmer and his teenage daughter struggle to survive. Meanwhile, an unruly gang make a plan to kidnap and sell the daughter for their own selfish profit. With the farmer/gang confrontation, a wicked tornado approaching, and "Rottens" everywhere - who will get out alive?


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