The Dead Next Door

The Dead Next Door (1988)

The Dead Next Door

Lets get straight to the point – The Dead Next Door is bad. That isn’t to say that the movie is unwatchable, but it is so haphazardly made with an increasingly bewildering set of choices, plot devices, and cheesy dialogue that you’ll wonder how it got signed off at all.

Also the fact that it is shot entirely on Super-8 only serves to add to the often amateurish feel of the whole film. The budget on this one clearly went on the blood and gore effects….of which there is plenty

The movie focuses on the efforts of a “zombie squad”, though that is never explicitly stated, you have to be able to read the patches on their uniforms, who are tasked by the Government to keep the recent zombie pandemic under control.

After a somewhat comical introduction to this ragtag group we learn that they are on a quest to go find the research of one Dr. Bo, who we saw killed in the movie’s nonsensical opening, in order to create a vaccine for the disease that is causing te outbreak of zombies across the globe.

The Dead Next Door (1988)

The Dead Next Door (1988)

And with that, the plot is set-up and the adventure begins. The squad’s journey soon runs afoul of a religious cult who worship the zombies as an instrument of the lord. Much blood and carnage follows.

To its credit, The Dead Next Door, actually has a couple of interesting ideas at its core: How does a society that doesn’t immediately crumble under the wrath of the undead, continue to function and police its citizens while the undead just happen to walk the earth? What would happen if an extremist religious group saw the zombies as a tool sent by God herself to cleanse the Earth?

Unfortunately, the movie then proceeds to waste these good ideas in favor of terrible plotting and terrible dialogue.

The movie apparently thinks it’s one of those “knowingly funny” zombie movies. One member of the squad always gets frustrated when something doesn’t go as plan and quips that it doesn’t work, “just like the government”; another character’s catch-phrase appears to just be “son of a bitch” and kills zombies with inexplicable lines like “Here’s looking at you, kid.”…..Funny for all the wrong reasons.

The Dead Next Door (1988)

The lead scientist of the whole expedition wears a trucker’s hat the entire movie that reads, “Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken!

All the dialogue is so clearly ADR (automated dialogue replacement) and all the lines cheesy to the point of parody – a raid on the church at the end of the film is stopped by the protagonist just so he can say “Welcome to Sunday school” – the immediate point of comparison that jumps to mind is not any classic zombie film but Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (the US martial arts film that parodies old Hong Kong Kung-Fu movies).

Despite the distracting flaws, The Dead Next Door has its moments, and if you want blood, and can ignore the script, then the film serves up enough gore to keep any blood-hound satisfied. Some of the effects and scenes are truly gratuitous and visceral.

The Dead Next Door (1988)

The Dead Next Door (1988)

What makes this film more curious, is that Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame helped to fund the film (and is credited only as ‘The Master Cylinder’, and Bruce Campbell provides the dubbed voices for two of the characters – with that level of horror pedigree you can be forgiven for expecting more from this film. Their involvement fails to inject The Dead Next Door the the wit and dark humor that made the Evil Dead series such fun.

Ultimately, this movie is only worth your time if you want to invite a group of friends over, have a few drinks, and riff to your hearts’ content. It is so primed and ready to be joked at that to not do so would almost be a crime.

Watch ‘The Dead Next Door’ trailer below:

Useful links:

Buy the film at Amazon.com Amazon.com Button
Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk Amazon.co.uk Button