It’s hard to believe zombie film The Dead and the Damned, aka: Cowboys & Zombies, is from Rene Perez, the man who went on to make the kick ass slasher series Playing with Dolls. This is some bottom of the barrel SyFy Network kind of horror. But, a guy’s gotta start somewhere. Still, I sure am glad Perez moved away from zombie flix like this and The Burning Dead to get into more hardcore horror—including the sequel, which slaps “the Darkness” on to the end of the title!
THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED (2011)
The amount of low budget Western film I was subjected to before the cheesy zombie crap finally started happening nearly made me give up on this one. But of course, I never actually do give up. It’s a disease.
So, I can’t tell you what happened at the beginning beyond gunfights and the main cowboy apparently being on the hunt for a rapist/murderer…although I can tell you there are plenty of fair maiden boobs. Were women in the Old West called fair maidens? Or wenches? Or maybe just bitches? I don’t know. Anyway, these sluts show their tits.
Finally, the townsfolk dig up a glowing green meteor that crashed to earth. They crack it open with a pickax and green CGI fumes come out, turning them into crazed, deformed zombies.
The makeup and fake body parts the zombies chew on are a bit cheesy, and the whole film is shot in the daytime.
Also, there are a limited number of zombies for most of the film, but that doesn’t stop the main cowboy, a woman he saved, and an Indian he was battling from teaming up to stay alive. They lock themselves in a saloon and spend a lot of time talking. A LOT. Yawn.
Really, the highlight of this film is when a freaky as fuck bald, blind zombie woman finds her way into the saloon and chases the main girl. This is close to the end of the movie, so if you can hang in there, you’ll see it.
After that, the zombie count is upped somewhat for a final battle to the death outside, which leads to a cliffhanger. Literally.
The main characters are standing at the edge of a cliff as a zombie horde races toward them, and the film ends.
THE DEAD THE DAMNED AND THE DARKNESS (2014)
What a difference a few years can make! The Dead the Damned and the Darkness is a totally different experience than its predecessor, and considering it begins in the modern day, I was thinking it’s not a sequel, but more of Perez’s way to do a reset and make a more impressive zombie flick. This also means…no being pulled up from the edge of that cliffhanger in the first film, so you’ll just have to make up your own ending to that one.
This one shows signs of what was to come in the Playing with Dolls movies. It’s got the gritty look, Perez’s effective jump scares, plenty of grisly gore and gut munching, boobs, and a totally late 1970s zombie film vibe.
Once again, all the action takes place in the daytime (so where’s the darkness?), but compared to the first film, the zombies here are perfectly rotten and look great in the light.
That’s right. Surrender, pretty boy. Just like that…
As for the plot, after the apocalypse, various survivors try to make it through a quarantine zone, including a military man, a young deaf woman, and an old guy.
Why do you keep calling me Dale?
It kind of combines plot points from many modern zombie flicks, so there isn’t much new here. However, it’s familiar and done right, so I’m totally in.
Just sit back and revel in the atmosphere and old school horror look and feel, plus the action video game action sequence at the end as the military man goes zombie hunting. Man, do these zombies look fucked up.
The most memorable thing about this film is the special gear the military man wears, which makes him look like a droid or bounty hunter from the Star Wars universe.
Also of note…just when I thought this film had no connection to the Old West situation in The Dead and the Damned, it sneaks in a direct link! Cool.