We are about a third of the way into October and I remain successful on my quest to join the rest of the October marathoners in the Halloween Hall of Fame. Instead of continuing to scour Netflix or Amazon Prime for horror flicks, I decided it’d be best to grab the next title from my mountainous ‘to watch’ pile. The lucky film chosen was Jeremy Kasten’s The Dead Ones.
A group of teens are sentenced to detention during their last week of summer vacation. As if having to clean up their very clearly dilapidated school wasn’t enough punishment, the students are terrorized by a gang dressed as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Now they must survive these masked tormentors, as well as spirits from their past.
I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this point, but The Dead Ones is yet another film that I knew nothing about before heading into it. The cover looks intriguing and the title has the word “dead” in it, so that was all I needed to convince me to press play.
Directed by Jeremy Kasten, The Dead Ones stars an intimate cast of only a handful of main characters. All new faces to me personally, I was quite impressed. Generally, in low budget films, the performances are rather lackluster. This is mostly due to little to no funding, of course. Money has to go towards other things like filming equipment, special effects, etc. There are those rare instances where the acting is above par, however. I think I can safely say that this film falls into the latter group.
Sarah Rose Harper (You Have a Nice Flight), Brandon Thane Wilson (Lovely Molly), Katie Foster (Deadwood Falls), and Torey Garza (Common Ground Business) don’t play your typical high school kids that we’ve come to expect in horror films. It is made clear rather early on that they are in trouble for something. As the film’s [rather short] 73 minutes runs on, we slowly learn just what kind of trouble these youngsters have gotten themselves into.
As we learn more and more of Mouse, Louis, Emily, and Scottie’s past sins, we continue to see how the youths are still tormented in this current stage of whatever Hell they’ve found themselves in. Their behaviors are erratic and downright alarming, but that is not shocking considering what they’ve done.
Taking cues from some real-life tragedies, The Dead Ones is about a massacre at a school. School shootings are all too familiar in the US and to have this be the subject of a horror movie is frightening enough. Throw in the supernatural elements that writer Zach Chassler and director Kasten have introduced here and that level of terror is increased greatly.
Using a combination of both practical and visual effects, The Dead Ones does feature quite a bit of bloodshed. The majority of the carnage is put on display using said practical effects, while things like ghouls and spirits, zombies and demons are of course created using a combination of the two methods.
Again, low budget flicks generally do not impress when it comes to realistic special effects. The Dead Ones, however, does manage to do a good job. Broken bodies, evisceration, and countless gunshot wounds all look impressive and I was not mad at all about the CGI antagonists either. They were, more often than not, creepy as hell and did not take me out of the film one bit.
Additionally, the group of human antagonists seen throughout the film also sport some rather cool getup. These four horsemen don different variations of skull masks, not unlike that seen on the film’s poster artwork, and all black garb. Created by special effects artist Elvis Jones, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away in 2017, and his team, the costumes and all manner of special effects seen throughout the film score an A in my book any day.
The Dead Ones at Home
The Dead Ones is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD/Digital from Artsploitation Films and Kino Lorber. The film is presented in 2.39:1 with English 5.1 DTS-HD master and 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio tracks. Optional English subtitles are also available.
The home release features two featurettes — An interview with Jax Smith on working with Elvis Jones on the Special Effects and a Set Tour with Production Designer Jeffery Pratt Gordon — and two different audio commentary tracks.
The Dead Ones features good acting and great special effects. It is an original story, which horror fans are always asking for, and only runs 73 minutes. There is no excuse for you to not check this one out.
Grab yourself a copy of The Dead Ones today as I give it 3 carved up patterns out of 5.