The Dead and The Damned – Zombies In The Wild Wild West

“When a group of gold miners unearth a dangerous meteorite, they unleash an intergalactic plague that ravages their town and turns the population into blood-thirsty mutants. It’s up to a high plains drifter and his arch-enemy, an Indian warrior, to battle the zombies and save the Old West from the horrors of The Dead and The Damned.”

Sounds good on paper, right? I went into The Dead and The Damned with high hopes of it making good on its “Eastwood meets Romero” promise. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case. The film starts out with a lackluster shoot out in an old western town between a bounty hunter, our hero to be Mortimer, and a wanted man and his gang. The idea of starting the film out this way isn’t necessarily a bad one, but the scene itself lacks the action a good shoot out needs and drags on a bit long. Afterwards, Mort sets out to capture an Indian named Brother Wolf who is wanted for the rape and murder of a white woman. This particular Indian, according to various people in town, is near impossible to catch, as many have tried and  none have returned. He’s a man on a mission though, so before embarking into the woods to catch his man, Mort says goodbye to his horse, and purchases a woman for the trip.

The woman, Rhiannon, lets him know upfront that she’s no whore and she’s not interested in being a wife either. Not a problem for our man Mort though, because all he wants her for is bait. Which is exactly what she becomes as he hog ties her to a post and waits up in a tree for the Injun to come get him some white meat! When Brother Wolf appears he flips the script on old Mort and frees Rhiannon which leads into a fight scene that resembles two drama students playing cowboys and indians. Meanwhile,back in town two hick prospectors find a meteorite and bring it into town to show everyone what they found. Being familiar with he zombie movie subgenre, I’m sure you know at this leads to. Yep, the townsfolk gather around the mysterious glowing rock, commence to beat on it and unleash the toxic fumes that zombify the whole town.

This is where the movie should pick up pace and get going, right? Not so much. The film carries on a fairly sluggish pace throughout, making it difficult to maintain interest in parts. As our trio heads into town they are forced to unite together to fight off the recently transformed undead. They decide to lock Rhiannon inside an empty saloon to keep her safe until morning, while Mort and Brother Wolf take on the zombies and create a way out-of-town. One of the most effective scenes in the film, and also the best looking zombie effects, takes place in the “empty” saloon. Turns out she’s not alone after all and is forced to play a game of cat and mouse with a blind zombie woman who is hunting her down by her scent. This scene is very effective being both creepy, yet remaining humourous, and the blind zombie is fucking bad ass looking. Easily the best zombie make up in the film.

The film does pick up a little bit in the last act, where our heroes must confront the legions of the undead in the daylight hours to try to get out-of-town. This is where the majority of the zombie action takes place. In fact the middle portion of the film really focuses more on Mort and Brother Wolf letting go of their initial prejudices and animosity and doing the whole buddy movie getting to know you thing. This is where we get the scoop on why Mort is collecting all the bounties he can and why Wolf is a wanted man. Unfortunately, the script and the slow pace of most of the film kind of make you say, “who gives a fuck, where are the zombies??”

Pacing and script issues aside, the actual concept of the film is a good one, and the cinematography makes it a nice film to look at. I would say three-fourths of the zombie effects are really cool looking, with the blind zombie being my personal favorite. I’d say this one is for the hordes of hardcore zombie fans, but someone who’s looking for a western/horror hybrid might want to keep looking.

The Dead and The Damned is the first film to be rated with our new rating system and gets two out of five Screaming Jamie’s

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