THE BURNING DEAD (2015)
Directed by Rene Perez
When a volcano near Donner Pass begins to smoke, the whole neighbouring town is ordered to evacuate. Sheriff Denton makes it his personal duty to ensure everyone has cleared the area but when the volcano begins to spit out the living dead as well as red hot lava, he’ll have to do his upmost to rescue and protect the remaining residents in town.
THE BURNING DEAD is an indie horror cum natural disaster movie that is all about action, fun and survival. As if living next to an active volcano wasn’t enough, the townsfolk unknowingly become the targets of the flesh-hungry zombies that the volcano likes to spew out. This means trouble for the residents of the area, particularly the Roberts family who have to stay behind to convince grandfather Ben (Robert F. Lyons) to evacuate his home and move to the safe zone 10 miles out. The only problem is the sheriff’s department have vastly underestimated the power of the volcano which could wipe everyone out, even those 10 miles away. Volcanic researcher Dr. Stevens (Kyle T. Heffner) and his assistant Eve (Julia Lehman) are going to have to alert the sheriff’s department if they are to save everyone’s lives, but that’s easier said than done when there’s zombies and burning lava hot on your tail.
The main focus of THE BURNING DEAD is the Roberts and Sheriff Denton. Denton (Thomas Downey) clearly cares about the family, especially the mother Mindy (Moniqua Plante), though he’s concerned Mindy’s father Ben won’t evacuate the town and asks Mindy if she can convince him otherwise he won’t survive the imminent eruption. Mindy agrees to have words though the relationship between her father and herself is strained to say the very least. To make matters worse, Mindy’s daughter Nicole (Nicole Cummins) arrives at the house with her boyfriend Ryan (Kevin Norman) in tow. Instead of staying on the school campus miles away from her family home, she’s returned home to see her mother but it couldn’t be at a worse time. Mindy not only has to convince her dad to get himself to safety but also ensure the survival of her daughter and her boyfriend. With the volcano ready to erupt at any moment, will they get out in time?
Whilst this is a film with a very basic story that is lacking in many areas, it does succeed in one thing: humour. If you like daft, insane visuals with cheap CGI and old school make-up FX and prosthetics, then The Burning Dead might just offer something to give you a giggle. It’s no Ghost Shark, but it certainly conjures up a couple of scenes that appeal to my absurd sense of humour. I’m talking obviously fake CGI lava that just gobbles everything up in sight, intestines being pulled apart and chewed upon from screaming live victims, colourful puss dripping from zombie wounds and fireballs wiping people out. I’m actually laughing to myself as I’m writing this, so yes, whilst the script, characters and screenplay need a lot of work, THE BURNING DEAD is not without its charm. And yes, the film does contain a boob scene or two, just in case you were wondering.
One of the other draws of the film is Danny Trejo. His role is rather minor as a Cherokee Indian who’s telling stories around the campfire about the volcano and the evil hidden within it. Though his character doesn’t have any impact on the plot at all but he does a good job of setting the scene. Whilst I’d have loved to have seen him in a more prominent, meaningful role, it’s still a nice little side character to pop up now and then, though his screentime is only around 8 minutes, if that.
As a horror or disaster movie, THE BURNING DEAD needs a lot of work, but it’s quite entertaining and worth a watch if you have a soft spot for B-movies with heart and cheesy visuals.