My Dead Girlfriend

Batteries not included. Requires 50 AA batterie

In the last ten years, if you were a film maker, and you were looking to make a movie on the cheap that stood a chance in hell of being seen, you’d make a zombie movie.  All you need is a decent video camera, some sound equipment, lights, a computer outfitted with editing software and a few friends willing to give up their Saturday afternoons for a few months.

Now it’s time for a little honest self assessment.  You have no money.  You want to make a serious zombie movie.  If you have some degree of talent and a few friends that have some degree of skill, you’ll make Deadlands 2. If you are lucky, you’ll end up with a movie that is better than the sum of it parts. You might elect to make a comedy.  If you have more enthusiasm than skill and all your friends are even bigger hacks than you are, you make Mulva: Zombie Ass-Kicker.  I’m sure that Mulva is a laugh riot for everyone who had a hand in making the movie, but for the rest of us, it was just boring. It made me vomit a little in my mouth. If you have some talent and some friends with a little talent, you make My Dead Girlfriend, which for my money, may be the best zombie oriented romantic comedy of 2006 that I have yet to see on Netflix Instant.

My Dead Girlfriend, the title totally gives you most everything you need to know going into this picture, is about a guy named  Steve (Brett Kelly), who apparently teaches literature at the local community college, and is getting a new apartment with Amy (Caitlin Delaney) his much younger girlfriend and student of the occult.  Steve looks and acts like the sort of guy who’d be teaching part time at a community college and still living in a studio apartment even though he’s in his mid-thirties or so.   Amy, on the other hand, looks just like the sort of girl who’d totally shoot a guy like Steve down.  Steve is batting way the heck out of his league and he knows it. He wants to close the deal.  I can’t say that I blame him.  He’s won girlfriend lottery.

In the course of moving in Amy goes out to Steve’s car to a get a few things from the trunk.  She slips on some headphones that look like they belong to a Walkman* that’s older than she is, then she drops something made of glass which, of course, shatters. Amy, after closing the trunk gets on her knees, to gather up the shards of glass.  Steve comes out to the car and calls for her. “Aaaaaaaaamy!  Aaaaaaaaaamy!” Silence.  He assumes that she’s gone back to the apartment and that he somehow missed her in the stairwell.  If you guessed that he gets in car and accidentally kills Amy by running her over, the winner is you; you get the metaphorical cigar.  Panicked, Steve drags her bleeding corpse back the apartment and tries to revive her using witchcraft.  And come back, she does, as Steve’s zombie girlfriend.  Zombie Amy understands simple sentences and body language.  She can also talk, albeit one word: hungry!  What is she hungry for?  Why, she desires flesh, of course! Steve takes Amy to a secluded cabin owned by a friend, hoping that it’s a safe place to be while he figures out how to help Amy. Zomedy ensues.

Though you’d think My Dead Girlfriend would be a horror-comedy, filmmakers Brett Kelly and John Muggleton, pass completely on the horror and to go straight for the laughs.  My Dead Girlfriend also avoids turning into a parody of low budget zombie films, instead it plays out more like a situation comedy, and though there is gore and death, the movie is about as dark as an episode of Laverne & Shirley. So the question becomes is My Dead Girlfriend funny?  That depends on your sense of humor.   For me My Dead Girlfriend certainly had some laugh out loud (lol) moments; though I wouldn’t say it was as funny as Supertroopers or Office Space; it was certainly funnier than Shrek 3, but then again, what isn’t?  I’ll let you decide for yourself.   In one scene Steve and Zombie Amy are sitting in the living room of the cabin. Steve, bored and frustrated looks at Amy as he mulls over what to do next.  She’s looking at him as if he was a turkey dinner.

Steve: Amy, where was Bela Lugosi born?
Amy: Hungry!
Steve: Who has the worst hockey team in the world?
Amy: Hungry!

That made me laugh.

Brett Kelly, the film’s director and lead isn’t much of an actor, but seems to have a fair sense of comic timing.  I’d guess that he was most comfortable with delivering the comedic lines but he, to me at least, seemed rather self-conscious when doing anything else on camera.  Caitlin Delaney is a more natural actor and was a lot of fun to watch.  She has a little bit of a flair for physical comedy. John Muggleton, as Carl, Steve’s skeezy best friend also seem more at home in front the camera and shares Kelly’s sense of timing.  The scenes that have Kelly and Muggleton playing off each other flow pretty well.  I’ve seen way worse acting in far bigger, more mainstream movies.  It helps that John Muggleton, who is also the screen writer,  wrote some decent dialogue.

Kelly and Muggleton were not the only cast and crew to double or triple up on movie credits here.  Almost everything in My Dead Girlfriend seems to have been done of one of a dozen or so cast and crew.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just shows how small and shoe-stringy the production was on this film.  It turned out okay.  My Dead Girlfriend isn’t one those movies that’s able hide its low budget origins.  The lighting is a bit off in the night scenes, the sound has an annoying echo in other scenes, the acting isn’t as good as it could be and so on. None of those shortcomings stopped My Dead Girlfriend from being entertaining and entertainment value is the bottom line.  Would I watch it again?  Probably not, but it was definitely good for one viewing.

If I had to compare and contrast it to a known quantity, I’d describe My Dead Girlfriend as being, in production value, similar to one of Troma’s better efforts, but nowhere near as gross, violent or juvenile.

Starring:
Brett Kelly
Caitlin Delaney
John Muggleton
Anastasia Kimmett
Ella Rose Swinimer
Jason Daley

Director:
Brett Kelly

Screenplay:
John Muggleton
Brett Kelly

Two out of five Vincents

*For those of you who aren’t old enough to remember them, think of a Walkman as a iPod, only it’s size of  the paperback edition of Stephen King’s The Stand and it can only hold up to twelve songs because it uses magnetic tape (cassettes) for storage.  It didn’t have a USB port; so you had to buy batteries to power it.  My Walkman required something like fifty AA batteries which would last about forty seconds.

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