I was reminded of this by the trailer for The Revenant, which touts the zombie comedy as coming from “visionary filmmaker” Kerry Prior. If he’s so visionary, why wasn’t his film given a wide theatrical rollout? Why did it take three years for the 2009 production to hit video? And why does it bear so many similarities to the much-reviled 1988 Joe Piscopo flop, Dead Heat?
Those are low blows, but hopefully you get the point: To proclaim a relatively obscure genre film as a work of groundbreaking brilliance is setting the bar so high, it can’t possibly clear it. That’s not to say Mr. Prior doesn’t try, dammit. It turns out he is a fine visualist who has put his extensive special-effects résumé to good use, yet his writing skills — and one untamed cast member — drag his ambition down.
David Anders (the Children of the Corn remake) is Bart, an American soldier killed in the Middle East skirmish, but once back in L.A. and six feet underground, emerges as a member of the undead. He has milky eyes, a god-awful stench and a thirst for blood to keep him alive. Any other attempted meal results in a pile of thick, black bile. (The makeup effects to bring Bart to, er, life are outstanding.)
Bart and his stoner pal, Joey (comedian Chris Wylde), become vigilante gunslingers to rid the city streets of scum, and on whose bullet-ridden bodies Bart can feast. Their initial outings finally spark some real humor, but then Bart starts quoting Dirty Harry; spoofing the “Do you feel lucky, punk?” speech has been such a lazy joke for … well, decades, it inspires anything but laughs.
I didn’t hate the movie, but I can’t recommend it beyond its first half. In that particular chunk, The Revenant offers a few fun moments, but they hardly combine into a satisfying whole. Sadly, as with many of his generation, Prior has confused profanity with comedy, as “fuck” is uttered likely as many times as the movie has minutes, yet none is crafted as part of a punch line.
Most of those F-bombs are dropped by Wylde, an off-putting presence who reminds one of Dax Shepard at his most obnoxious … and that’s even before I saw him jacking around on the behind-the-scenes featurette! Off- and on-camera, the guy has no off switch. Perhaps his character was written that way, but his manic nature is a distraction that builds into a detraction.
Wonder what his Twitter bio reads? (I checked: It begins with “Born great.” Sigh …) —Rod Lott