Mad (The)
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (29th May 2007).
The Film

After the success of 'Shaun of the Dead', copycats were to be unavoidable. So, 'Fido' came out, and 'The Mad' tries to cash in on the zombie comedy genre. The movie isn't great, but it has its moments. With references to 'Night of the Living Dead' and 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' among others spread throughout, the movie goes through the paces, with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

This is essentially a movie about the relationship between a father (Billy Zane) and his daughter (Maggie Castle). They, along with their respective special friends, stop for lunch at a country diner, where things quickly turn ludicrous thanks to some bad cow meat that turns people into zombies. Billy Zane, with his laid-back, jokey persona does a nice job and delivers some really good one-liners. Maggie Castle and the rest of the cast do a nice job, but nobody is really a standout. All the jokes are delivered with the proper tone, giving the movie a nice vibe.

Throughout the movie, whether it's the group discussing the semantics of the word 'zombie' or it's Billy Zane spouting snappy comments about prop pitchforks, the movie has a nice sense of humour. Some of the jokes - like dancing with the zombie - fall flat, but a lot of them are intentionally funny. Quite a few lines are unexpected and elevate the movie above the mere crappy zombie horror. That's not to say that all the laughs are intentional, but the director handled the comedy in the right way.

Though director John Kalangis' hopes were unusually high for this movie (as you learn in the making-of), he knew exactly the right kind of atmosphere to take for this kind of subject matter. Nothing is taken very seriously and even if the relationship between father and daughter is the core of the movie, some nice little chuckles are extracted from the situations they find themselves in. From the start, nothing is taken pretty seriously, which is probably the best thing.

The budget was pretty low and it kind of shows. The camerawork is also somewhat amateurish at times, especially during the two shot of father and daughter outside the diner. This isn't much of a problem, though, as the rest of the movie, though unimpressively shot, has a nice pace and energy running through it. The movie is also oddly absent of gore and on-screen violence for the big 'Unrated' tag across the front cover (though there is blood in the movie, make no mistake), but, like I said, it's low budget.

I didn't expect to like this movie too much but the campy, tongue-in-cheek attitude the movie takes won me over. It's not the funniest zombie movie ever made ('Shaun of the Dead', for example, is one of the best), but it's hardly the worst (I actually sat through 'Redneck Zombies' from start to finish and it's actually worse than you'd epxect from the title). It's a nice ride if you're in the mood for a bad-cow-meat-zombie-horror-comedy movie shot somewhere in Ontario, Canada.

Video

1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is somewhat better than the sound, although there are a couple of pretty nasty digital dropouts in the diner sequence (well, once in the dining area, the other in the kitchen). It's not impressive, either, but for a low-budget zombie movie, I guess it's pretty good. The print is clean of any specks and scratches. The colours are good enough, though not overly bright or overly dark. The contrast is good, with colours staying fairly accurate throughout the movie. The darker areas do show low-level noise, which takes away some detail. The overall picture also doesn't seem as clear and clean as it should be, but that's probably due to the source. Generally, though, it's an adequate picture.

Audio

Though my receiver decoded this as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the sound was nothing more than a stereo track (ie. the two front speakers were expanded everywhere). In fact, the back speakers were (to my ears) actually louder than the front speakers. The mixing, then, is pretty bad. However, the dialogue and bad jokes are all heard clearly, the score is also mixed in with nice volume levels. The effects are also clear, though there's really no distinction of their direction or position. It's not a horrible track, it's just not very impressive.

Extras

The disc has a few extras, starting with Making of 'The Mad' (25:15). The director talks about the concept, the actors, the characters and making the movie. The actors talk about their characters and a little about how they prepared for the role. There's also some nice behind the scenes footage spread throughout this thing. It's a pretty nice making-of, though it's nothing particularly enlightening, unless you consider the director talking about the '80s and why it came up into the movie.

Other than that, there's the Original Theatrical Trailer (1:36), which makes me think 'this played in theatres?', and a Deleted Scene (1:58). The trailer is gory and bloody and has nice jokes, while the deleted scene is pretty pointless. It's a montage that would take place in the middle of the diner. You hear a song playing, while the camera zooms out on the four characters. It's a pretty useless scene and I'm wondering why it was shot in the first place.

There's also a Trailer Gallery with 'Black Christmas' (2:08), 'Bottom Feeder' (1:38), 'Dead Mary' (1:40), 'Living Death' (1:42) and 'The Cradle' (1:39) have trailers. Looking at the names of the movies - let alone watching the trailers - you know what to expect. The trailers don't really convince you these movies are going to be anything but cheesy or bad.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: C+ Audio: C- Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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