Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UK Brothers pour own sweat and blood into new African zombie flick

Of all the afflictions to have plagued the African continent, the re-animated dead have finally
joined the party. UK commercial directors Howard and Jonathan Ford have brought the seemingly
exhausted zombie genre to the deserts of Burkina Faso and Ghana in “The Dead.”

The movie begins in medias res with our hero, U.S. Navy engineer Brian Murphy, (Rob
Freeman, “Ten Dead Men”) wandering the infinite waves of African sand with an AK-47 slung over
his back. He spots an especially sluggish zombie with a piece of his leg bone poking into the air. With
a jaded sigh Murphy slowly strolls past the crippled undead and continues on his quest.

Most of the movie thereafter is a flashback, detailing the incidents leading up to Murphy finding
himself in the middle of the desert with only blood-dripping mobile carcases as company.


The Ford brothers inevitably fall back on the many clich?s that litter the zombie genre.
However, their choice to set the massacre in the barren, desolate, endless African landscape does
manage to bring some new blood (heh) to this already blood-drenched brand of cinema.

Once the filmmakers get the required scenes of villages succumbing to the zombies’
cannibalism out of the way, the film begins to come into its own. The true uniqueness of the movie is
in the dual danger that the African setting allows. The story becomes a tale of one man’s survival in a
place where the terrain is nearly as deadly as the horrifying cannibals that surround him.

In addition to attempting a new setting, the filmmakers also avoided the sprinting, highly
motivated zombies that inhabit movies like “28 Days Later” for more slow moving, lethargic zombies.
Within the context, the Ford zombies do seem more realistic as the undead would most likely lose most
of their motor control along with their brain function when they become “zombified.” This makes the
film a suspense, rather than action, movie. The characters’ fear is not being chased down but rather becoming surrounded with no place to run.

The beauty of the film, as with its ingenuity, comes through in the absolutely sublime
cinematography and aesthetically striking shots of the African vista. However this setting comes at a
cost, and not just to our U.S. zombie killing engineer.

Director H. Ford describes the filming as “the most horrific experience I have ever endured.”
Ford reflects, “If I had known the extent of how truly life threatening it would be on a day to day basis,
perhaps “The Dead” would never have existed.”

The crew encountered armed robbery, corruption and extortion, and constant dehydration and
sickness. Lead actor Freeman was even put on a drip for two weeks with Malaria during filming.

H. Ford reminisces, “Soon we all started dropping like flies, which is perhaps not surprising
when you consider some of the locations we had to film in … I remember shooting in a dark hut and
having giant cockroaches crawling over my hands and up my trousers.”

The plot structure and the screen writing rarely venture from the cookie-cutter zombie narrative.
However, if you are zombie-file and want to see the undead devour on a whole new continent, the
setting alone should warrant a peak at “The Dead.”

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