A zombie outbreak has ravaged the nation for roughly 3 years. A serum created by Dr. Bow which was supposed to give limited life to dead cells instead entirely reanimated dead humans! The Zombie Squad has been commissioned by the government to track down the original spread of the plague to see if they can produce a cure. They must travel to Akron, Ohio where Bow’s research is, and where the spread of the virus began. But when one of their own is infected, Raimi and the others need to put a rush on things to save their Zombie Squad buddy, Mercer!
It all seems like a pretty simple task. These fake cops have been killing zombies for years right, what could possibly go wrong. When they finally reach Bow’s house they are met by Vincent. He attends the local church, a place of sanctuary for those who believe the zombies are God’s way of finishing off man so he can start over. WAIT WHAT? What kind of church is this? Oh I see, it’s a cult, lead by the Reverend Jones; which seems to be some kind of poke at the Reverend Jim Jones who lead the “People’s Temple” and it’s over 900 members to a mass suicide in 1978. This Jones has taught the people that the zombies are not to be feared, and in fact they can be used as pets. They seek to do anything they can to save the zombies, including killing the government team sent to find the cure!
With a little help from Dr. Moulsson and Dr. Franklin, Raimi and his team are able to make an antidote, but they give it to Mercer before it’s tested on anyone else. The serum does work on the zombies; melting them to the ground. But unfortunately for Mercer he wasn’t entirely dead, and he takes the form some sort of demon, hell bent on shutting up Moulsson for what he has done. Now Raimi has to take care of Jones and save his buddy before the rest of the zombies take out everyone!
Monkeyface: For something made in the 80’s with obviously a small budget the special effects and gore were extremely well done. It doesn’t look real by any means, but it definitely isn’t as cheesy as most of the other low budget horror movies of it’s time. The producers definitely took the business of making this movie seriously, even if the movie wasn’t very serious. There were quite a few shots where you just asked yourself “how did they pull that off!”
Sean: Hey, I think those effects were just as cheesy as most other big budget movies of the time, and I’d even dare say that it does a quite a bit better than those big budget movies at other times. I was seriously impressed as hell with this movie and the special effects. When I saw a shot of the White House and zombies crawling up on the front gates, I wondered to myself how the hell they did that. I also enjoyed the fact that a lot of these characters were obviously named after revered horror actors or directors, like Raimi (who I thought was a pretty direct homage to Ash from the Evil Dead series) and Dr. Savini.
Monkeyface: When I said that the movie didn’t take itself too serious I of course meant the acting… it was pretty bad! I think the budget they had for getting real actors went into the effects budget. There were also some pretty funny parts. At one point members of the cult show up at The Legion of Zombie Squadders (I made that up) and protest the destruction of the zombies. But ironically they get attacked by the zombies late at night. Why are you protesting late at night when there are zombies on the loose!?!? It’s 1989, you obviously know that zombies are most dangerous when it’s dark!
Sean: Yeah, I think you could have gotten better acting out of a woodpile. These brigade was stiff as hell, and I’m not even talking about the zombies (yuk yuk!) I think the stiffness however, could all be overlooked with the effects, the set pieces and the story. I found the actual story to be pretty damned good, which can be pretty hard to find in a zombie movie. Most of the time it just revolves around some characters trying to survive and escape, but here you have the whole “trying to find a cure” angle. While I loved the story for the most part, the end left a lot to be desired. It seemed like it just ended really abruptly. I’m sure with a lower budget film like this, a lot of it was done on the crew’s spare time. It feels like they got to the point where they figured “Hey, we have a whole lot of footage here, let’s just wrap this shit up and get it over with!”
Monkeyface: I think my favorite character was Mercer. He went from kind of a lame ass sidekick, to half-man half-zombie, to vengeful comic relief demon. Just the way he delivered his post antidote lines made it seem like Steven Wright dressed up in horror makeup and lowered his voice to sound like Will Ferrell in Old School after he shot himself in the neck with a tranquilizer dart… it was priceless! Overall it was a pretty cool movie for the times. Good effects goes a long way with me, and it kept me entertained throughout. I give The Dead Next Door 3.5 looney-toon cult leaders our of 5!
Sean: I really enjoyed this movie. I had it in my Netflix instant queue for a while, and decided to give it a watch. While the acting wasn’t the best, I really enjoyed the story and the effect kicked my ass. One of my favorite things has to be Moulsson’s trucker hat, where someone wrote on the front with a sharpie “Once, I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken”. I need to get me a hat like that. The Dead Next Door gets 4 decapitated zombies with blood spurting out of their necks out of 5.