Horror. Worldview. Faith.

Dead Meat – Review

Dead Meat – Review

Mar 5, 2011

reviewed by hallo
directed by Conor McMahon, 2004

Dead Meat is an Irish horror film (Ireland makes horror films?) distributed in America by Fangoria/Gorezone distribution.  The movie is, essentially, a zombie movie about a heavily mutated strand of mad cow disease that begins turning human beings into mad, flesh eating cannibals.  I will say upfront that I enjoyed Dead Meat and was impressed with some very unique imagery in the midst of what is certainly a worn out sub-genre.   Yet, the film could have been so much more.

The story begins with a major nod to George Romero as a young couple, Helena and Martin, are in their car and literally run into a guy on the side of the road.  Come to find out, the guy has decaying skin and seems to be dead.  Before Helena and Martin can get the gentleman to a hospital, he comes alive and begins gnawing on Martin’s neck, leaving Helena to run off seeing help by herself.  She makes her way to a cottage where soon afterward, Martin attacks her, now in zombie mode himself.  She cleverly dispatches of Martin by attaching a vacuum tube to his eye and turning on the machine.  Fun.

Helena runs for her life and ends up bumping into Desmond, the shovel toting gravedigger (actually, he bumps into her and saves her from being run over by a car).  Desmond is one of the coolest characters I have seen in a while, making unbelievable use of a shovel and carving himself out almost as a superhero.  Together, the two try to find a way out of the danger, bumping into more and more zombies.  Finally, after a brief visit to Desmond’s home, they run into two more unaffected humans, Cathal and Francie.  Although reluctant at first, Cathal eventually gives Helena and Desmond a lift in their car (and a little girl named Lisa, but we won’t worry about her.  She doesn’t last long).  After their car gets stuck in the mud, they are forced to fend off all kinds of threats, including a cow!  The movie ends with Cathal and Desmond succumbing to the massive onslaught of zombies when they try to take cover in some old ruins.  Helena survives when a group of “zombie hunters” shows up.  She is placed in the back of a truck and crammed in with dozens of other survivors.  A wooden door is shut and the screams of the living, now trapped as if they were dead, are heard from inside as the truck starts down the road.

This movie almost needed to be sub-titled.  Obviously, set in Ireland, the characters are speaking English, but the accent is so strong that I had to strain to make out the dialogue.  The film perfectly captures the essence of what a stranded day in the middle of Ireland might look like, offering beautiful views of the Irish country side and portraying the varying shades of brown that we would expect for that geographic location.  This coupled with the staggering, quick movements of the walking dead create an eerie combination.  Dead Meat is simply a survival film, where the action starts immediately and does not relent until the end of the movie.  There are some great visual kills and the gore is plentiful.  Plus, McMahon offers some twists to the typical zombie themes, providing some neat ideas that I had never seen.  For example, at one point Helena and Desmond are terrified to see they are surrounded by zombies.  Yet, the undead never move in for the kill.  They realize that this particular group of zombie are asleep (standing up) and if they are quite enough, Helena and Desmond can simply walk past them unharmed.  Then, there is the incredible kill scene while the group is trapped in the car.  It is so wonderful that I dare not give it away here.

I also like how Dead Meat provides a solid and very believable source to the zombie infestation.  It is not a stretch at all to think that an outbreak of mad cow disease, which is not unusual in Ireland, could have devastating effects on humans.  Whereas most zombie films just ignore the cause of the infestation, Dead Meat tackles it head on, which is refreshing.

The film is certainly not without its problems.  First, the editing is mediocre at best.  Continuity is a problem with Dead Meat and it brings down the overall quality of the film just a notch.  Most of these issues seemed to be somewhat manageable in the editing room.  The action sequences would be great – great – great – then “ooh, that looked awful.”  Helena, at the beginning especially, seems to just be somewhat out of sorts that her boyfriend is now a rabid zombie trying to kill her.  The reactionary elements in Dead Meat may be the weakest part of the film.  Also, the soundtrack is sketchy, leaving the already difficult accents even more difficult to understand.

I enjoyed this film.  Coming in at only 1 hour 17 minutes, it is a quick and easy watch and worth every second of it.  If you like zombie and gore, then take a look.

Click Here to purchase Dead Meat

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