Deadlands 2: Trapped

And yet I liked this movie

 

Have you ever liked something that you shouldn’t have?   Maybe it was that Volkswagen van that constantly overheated.  Sure, it was a part-time job just keeping it on the road, but it was cool.  Or maybe, like my Uncle Dave, you like putting peanut butter on hamburgers.  What is wrong with you, Dave!?!  Or maybe it’s worse still, like my lifelong pal Rick, who thinks that Howard the Duck is one of the best movies ever!  Yes, he dragged me to see that when it came out.  It’s been more than twenty years since and I’m still angry about that!  I’m sure that you can find examples of this, though maybe not so extreme, in your own life.  I know that I can, which brings  me to Deadlands 2: Trapped, a film that I enjoyed and I have no idea why.

 

You might be wondering to yourself, “Deadlands 2: Trapped, okay but what about the first Deadlands?  Shouldn’t I see that first?”   In a word, no, Deadlands 2: Trapped stands entirely on it its own.  So why did they title it as if it were a sequel?  I dunno.  Maybe Filmmaker Gary Ugarek is trying to establish it as a brand, similar to George Romero’s Something, Something . . .  of the Dead.

The movie opens with an introduction by Helena, the Hussy of Horror.  Helena does a horror host act similar to Elvira, the Mistress of the Night.  She has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie itself, but does get you in the right mood for a low rent zombie movie, which is good because  that is exactly where we’re heading.

There is something foul going on at the Department of Defense.  There, Donald Rumsfeld (not really, but really), is playing an evil game with his evil new toy.  Can you guess what it is?  If you said, “Something that turns people into zombies” you’d be right.  If dumping a zombie plague onto a town isn’t enough reason to hate this guy, he goes around the office, bossing people around and  acting like he’s the Queen of France.  And if that isn’t enough, Fake Donald Rumsfeld (Jim Krut) has one of his associates killed just because he wasn’t as gung-ho to murder innocent civilians as Fake Rumsy thought he should be.  Why is Fake Donald Rumsfeld doing all this?  He wants to test the latest in biological warfare, the sliced bread of America’s arsenal of freedom, on the freedom loving people of Hagerstown, Maryland – just to see how it works.

Enter the yokels from Hagerstown.  First, we have Douchey McWhiteguy (Joseph D. Durbin) and his best friend Fake Ted Nugent (Josh Davidson).  They’re having a night on the town which includes a visit to a topless bar.  Okay, the bar itself isn’t topless; if it was that would be really weird.  The dancers are topless, in that they aren’t wearing shirts.  Douchey and Fake Ted meet up with Fake Ted’s sister, Alienated Cutter (Corrine Brush).  Alienated has a cunning plan.  She’s leaving town for Seattle.  She wants them to join her for a late night dinner and some quality time before she beats it out of Dodge City.  So they pile into her car head off to the local Denny’s or something.

On the way there, through the character’s banter, we discover two things: Alienated has a long time crush of Douchey.  Douchey is aware of this but has been pretending that he isn’t – until now.  In true douchey fashion, he’s clearly considering giving her a farewell ride on the baloney pony.   All of this is terribly boring and goes along with some dispatch.  Just as Douchey starts setting up his smooth moves, they stop at a red-light where a woman staggering in the night, falling over, flat on her face.  Fake Ted and Douchey, laughing at the woman, reluctantly get out of the car to help.  The woman is infected with the zombie virus and takes a bite out of Fake Ted Nugent.

Horror movie hysterics ensue, which takes our trio to a local movie theater, the first place they could get to for help when Alienated’s car won’t start.  This brings us to the second trio of yokels: Movie Theater Assistant Manager (Chris L. Clark), his girlfriend, Shift Manager (Ashley Young) and Some Little Girl (Alexa Davidson).  Now that we have our six survivors, let the zombie siege begin!

You’ll probably not be too sad if any of the characters die once the zombies surround the theater.  I wasn’t.  I just didn’t care.  The acting comes off as marginal and a little self-conscious.   I attribute part of this to start and stop shooting schedule, possible inexperience on the part of the director Gary Ugarek in handling actors, and mediocre dialogue.  It’s not that the acting is bad, as such, but that all the deficiencies taken together create weak characters.

The story, as you have seen, is not very inventive.  In his capacity as a writer, Gary Ugarek gives us a bland story populated with people I would want to strangle.  In the case of the Fake Donald Rumsfeld, this is probably a good thing, in the case of Douchey McWhiteguy and the other principal characters, this is not so good.

The zombie effects were uneven.  Some were detailed and impressive, others just a bit of grease paint.  For the most part they looked like the sort of zombies that you’d see at a really good “haunted house” attraction at Halloween.  Their movement was a little inconsistent.  For those who care about such things, Deadlands 2: Trapped has both running and limping style zombies, which will make everyone sad – or happy depending on whether or not you’re a “the glass is half full” sort of person.

The original music was interesting.  It reminded me of music John Carpenter writes for his own movies, only less dated.  It was a nice touch.

From the snarky tone I’ve taken in this review you’d probably guess that I didn’t like this movie.  You’d be wrong.  Deadlands 2: Trapped is definitely better than the sum of its parts.  Again, I will lay this at the feet of Director/Producer/Writer/Guy Who Makes the Sandwiches Gary Ugarek.  Whatever strikes he had against him going into this, whatever difficulties he had to overcome, in the end he and his crew were able to scrape it all together and make an entertaining zombie movie.

I look forward to the next Deadlands installment.

Starring:

Jim Krut
Joseph D. Durbin
Chris L. Clark
Josh Davidson
Ashley Young
Corrine Brush

Screenplay:
Gary Ugarek

Director:
Gary Ugarek

Two out of five Vincents

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