By: Addison Wylie
Aaron K. Carter’s thinly budgeted zombie romp Dead Kansas wears the same pants as that punch drunk comedy Tetherball: The Movie I reviewed in April. Not only because the filmmaker reached out to Wylie Writes to get an opinion on his modest horror, but Dead Kansas is also filled with that same vigour that can only be supplied by friends who make films because that’s what they love to do.
These cinephile fellas pulled together resources to make a horror film. And, by any means necessary, they wanted to make one that took a post-apocalyptic zombie outbreak seriously. Granted, this unflinching attitude makes some of the more sober line readings and wordy dialogue unintentionally funny, but I don’t think Carter would be hurt by this reaction. Mostly because the filmmaker, his cast, and his crew want the audience to have a good time. You could be knocking back drinks with college buddies, or watching the movie on a double date. If the audience is giddy, so is Aaron K. Carter. If I’m right about the production’s optimistic outlook, I appreciate an attitude that’s as accepting as that.
Dead Kansas is rough around the edges – really, really rough. Yet, I wasn’t distracted away from the story (written by Carter and co-director Adam Ledezma) to bicker about how the camera was being handled. Every now and then, I would wonder if Carter had a close bond with the band providing the hard rock soundtrack, or if the actors playing rough n’ tough rednecks competed in the same backyard wrestling league. And, did the leading lady just switch out for another actress? Yes, yes she did. Otherwise, I was content watching this hootenanny happen.
I’m sure there are connections to The Wizard of Oz (the title, a featured storm, an unstoppable female lead who meets up with three pals along the way) as well as homages to other horror influences, but Dead Kansas isn’t a film you look at too deeply. If it entertained using its limited supply of actors and locations, then it gained points with me. Speaking of actors, Irwin Keyes (House of 1000 Corpses) and the late Ben Woolf (American Horror Story: Freakshow) appear in cameos. That’s another puzzle: How did Carter get so lucky?
The cost-cutting “zombie cam” and some unenthused performances are going to be too amateurish for some movie goers to handle. But, if you can see the film for what it is (which is barely 70 minutes to boot), I think you’re going to dig Dead Kansas.
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