Hood of the Living Dead (2005) 1 brainhalf brain

This movie follows the classic zombie movie formula of a well-meaning scientist just trying to bring back a loved one, only to have things go horribly wrong, starting a zombie plague. The well-meaning scientist in this case is Ricky (Carl Washington), a young biologist who just wants to get himself and his younger brother Jermaine (Brandon Daniels) out of the hood. Ricky thinks that Jermaine's friends will get him into trouble, but it's actually Ricky himself who gets Jermaine killed through calling the cops on a local drug dealer. The drug dealer exacts his revenge in a drive-by. Desperate to bring his brother back, Ricky gets his coworker Scott (Chris Angelo) to bring an experimental serum from the lab, and they inject Jermaine. At first it doesn't seem to work, but then later Jermaine comes back as a hungry zombie, and runs off. After Jermaine infects a few people, Ricky realizes that the situation is quickly growing out of control, and he calls the director of the lab for help, who calls in a mercenary for additional gunpower.

I think writers/directors Ed and Jose Quiroz were going for a straight horror, but there were some funny parts as well, like the couple that comes to the waterfront in the hood in the middle of the night to make out. The humor mostly fell flat, though, and the fight scenes, although pretty well staged, somehow were still not that gripping.

There's an interesting cultural commentary here, though. Ricky obviously felt like an outsider in his own neighborhood. Although he had the best intentions, it was his inability to understand and adhere to the realities of ghetto life that both led to his brother's death and worsened the outcome of the zombie outbreak. If Ricky had gotten to know his brother's friends, instead of writing off the whole neighborhood as thugs, they all might have been able to react to the situation more quickly. The Quiroz brothers seem to be saying that prejudgements of people and situations, even by someone who lives in that environment, can be dangerous.

Unfortunately, after the initial setup of the relationship between Ricky, Jermaine, and Jermaine's friends, which rings pretty true, the writing and acting degrade. None of the actors was horrible, but neither was anyone good enough to make you care what happened to them. It was pretty obvious that almost everyone was just grist for the zombie mill. There is a minimum of plot development between Ricky, Scott, and their boss, but mostly the movie just tracks the fluctuating numbers of living, dead, and undead as the protagonists drive around trying to stop the zombies from killing more innocent people.


Review by: Matthew Stephens
Rating: 1 brain1 brain1 brain

Ricky (Carl Washington) and Jermaine (Brandon Daniels) are brothers fighting each other for authority since their parents died. Ricky, the older brother, is a lab tech along with Scott (Chris Angelo). Mr. Richards, oh, sorry, DR. Richards, their boss, is pushing them to perfect a "regeneration formula" by the end of the month. Ricky apparently takes his work very seriously since he wears his lab coat to drive to and from work. Further, he's been having bad dreams about the experiments he has to carry on every day.

In an effort to get a better life for himself and Jermaine, Rick saves his money and hatches a plan to get them out of the hood and into "the burbs". But not before disaster strikes in the form of a drive-by shooting that kills Jermaine. Enter the untested regenerate formula (I think it looks like Windex) and Ricky's unorthodox method of applying a syringe.

Question: Shouldn't a really good "regeneration formula" work without CPR?

Question: Since when does dialing 911 summon the Coroner? And why do they put Jermaine in a body bag right there on the living floor?

Meanwhile, the movie is pushed up a couple of notches as Ricky, Scott and Jermaine's friends go in search of Jermaine's killers. Jermaine beats them to the punch, though: After making a meal-on-wheels out of the coroner's van, he goes on a zombie-making spree beginning with one of his three killers.

The story decomposes some as the living cast members decide to look for Jermaine and his killers by "riding around Oakland, looking for anything suspicious". Not the most specific plan, especially in Oakland, but, alas, trouble manages to find them. Good thing Ricky and Scott know from the movies how to dispose of zombies properly (though later on the sweet spot moves from the head to the heart for some reason or other). They also manage, through their banter, to hand us sufficient information about how the regenerating formula was supposed to work and how it passes from one victim to the next.

All in all, the story is quite refreshing. At times I found myself not knowing what was about to happen next. I was sincerely intrigued. The writers played well within the zombie mythology and produced a genuinely suspenseful plot. The dialogue between gang members is also authentic and well played. One of "Hood's" refreshing innovations is that it approaches the zombie story from the beginning: from Zombie zero. Instead of masses of faceless flesh-eaters, the cast is up against a few close friends, a lover and family members as they are infected and "turn." This makes for some pretty thoughtful character development and story. For instance, it was fun watching Ricky, Scott and Marco (Raul Martinez) watch Dr. Richards and the Mercenary go through the symptoms. Even more credit goes to the Quiroz Brothers that a lot of the violence is implied: We never see some of these people get killed. Thanks, again, to a storyline strong enough to support itself with minimal violence.

The Cringe Factor here is low for the most part. A good effort.