Army Of The Dead (2008)
Okay, let’s get the main bugbear out of the way first. This movie is advertised with the tagline “never trust a skeleton with a machine gun” so I knew that I was at least going to have some dumb fun. Sadly, at no point in the movie does a skeleton actually HOLD a machine gun. Just thought I’d get that out of the way now so that anyone else about to watch this movie (please tell me that there ARE others out there who watch this stuff) is not as disappointed as I was.
A mood-setting prologue. We get some olde style conquistadors, we get a big pile of discovered treasure, we get skeletal shadows uprising and we get an attack. Not bad, not bad, I’ve seen a lot worse. Fast forward hundreds of years and we join a bunch of disposable folk who are enjoying themselves in the desert, racing around in customised cars during some kind of activity break. Sadly, one of the party has a hidden agenda and that involves trying to find the treasure we glimpsed during the prologue. There’s a skeleton army that’s not going to let that happen.
Okay, so the acting isn’t great and the script isn’t going to win any awards here. Some moments are so cheesy and/or predictable that they raise laughs rather than tension but that’s not the central focus of Army Of The Dead. It’s a film about an army of skeletons so all that matters, at the very least, is how those skeletons look and I’m happy to say that they’re pretty good.
When not interacting with real humans, or being exploded, the skeletons look great. Unfortunately, as is often the case with these lower-budget genre outings, everything suffers when they try to pile more effects into the scenes. Explosions, CGI-blood, female petulance – none of these things are done justice here although they’re also far from terrible.
Skeletons aside, the other good thing about Army Of The Dead was a little attention to detail here and there that I definitely hope was intentional. The fun-loving, carefree folk are racing about in customised Beetles, the man looking after them is driving a Wrangler and a bunch of mercs appear later driving a Merc. There’s also no denying the smile raised by (and I suppose this is a MINOR SPOILER) a skeleton grabbing a shotgun from someone and turning it on the group.
I don’t know who else would go out of their way to watch such fare but there’s fun to be had here for the undemanding viewer or for those with my skewed sensibilities.
Army Of The Dead is due for DVD release in the UK on 13th Spetember 2010 if you care to pick a bone with your local retailer.
DIRECTOR: JOSEPH CONTI
STARS: ROSS KELLY, STEFANI MARCHESI, MIGUEL MARTINEZ, MIKE HATFIELD
RUNTIME: 89 MINS APPROX