THE BURNING DEAD (2015)

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Director: Rene Perez; Screenwriters: Jason Ancona, Jeff Miller; Starring: Danny Trejo, Thomas Downey, Moniqua Plante, Nicole Cummins, Kevin Norman, Julia Lehman; Running time: 82 minutes }

Accompanying the many trepidations of watching a film about lava zombies attacking a small mountain town with Danny Trejo as an old Indian chief is the distant hope that it might just be a slice of throwaway fun.  Occasionally these low-budget disaster/exploitation B movies are just ludicrous enough to laugh with rather than at (the reason behind the whole Piranha, Sharknado, Zombeaver trends), but sadly such hopes are immediately dashed with The Burning Dead.  If there’s even loosely a plot it’s something about the sheriff of said small town driving around the mountains while a zombie-spewing volcano erupts, before stumbling upon a bickering family made up of predictably clichéd, poorly drawn characters (the conflict between mother and daughter, the grandparent who doesn’t want leave his home amidst the impending eruption).

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Dante’s Peak with zombies (which, let’s face it, sounds amazing); if only Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton were around.  Then it might not be utterly terrible.  As you’d probably expect, the rest of the characters are just as rubbish; not least the pair of volcanologists who pop up every so often to “explain” what’s going on and pretend the film has half a brain, all done through painful dialogue and truly insipid acting which really has the chance to shine any time someone is given a lengthy pause for expression – more times than you can count it looks like the actors think the camera has already cut.  These films are always terrible, but they can be kind of watchable when they’re incessantly terrible.  The Burning Dead sells us on lava zombies and Danny Trejo (who’s barely in it, by the way), but too often wants to sit down and pretend to be serious.  Whether it’s doing it genuinely or mockingly, it’s boring.  More zombies, less talking please.

Perhaps it’s silly to look at it as anything more than ridiculous, throwaway, low-budget exploitation, and it should be a case of knowing what you’re going to get… but you don’t even get that.  Not really.  And yes, it’s okay to moderately look forward to the prospect of Machete running around the mountains slaying zombies – Robert Rodriguez, if you’re reading, consider this a pitch for Machete 4: Back From Space – yet The Burning Dead somehow even falls short matching no expectations.  Apart from a few comically entertaining death scenes, this is a tedious slog of a film.  Watch Sharknado instead…

Read this review on Flickering Myth

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