Sunday, April 26, 2009


SUPER POWER GAINED FROM WATCHING THIS MOVIE: The Ability To Remember Ashton Kutcher's Phone Number “Just In Case”


A trip to Mexi-Crow, Beany Drago, Fez of the Living Dead, anti-Aztec Cheez Whiz, Sister Conchita Bucka-Wow-Wow, A Funny-Accented Mamacita Worth Resurrecting For, Like Water for Voice-Over, Lou Dobbs' Worst Nightmare, and deh be Mexi-spooks heah!

More details here.


Two Mexican illegal aliens traverse the scorching desert to reach America, one an decrepit old man (Billy Drago) and the other a young boy named Diego. The old guy spins a tale about the Aztec legend of the Sixth Sun, a period in the future in which the Aztecs will return and seek vengeance for their genocide at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors. He then informs Diego that he is the “chosen one”, the one who will one day bring the Sixth Sun to pass and destroy those who have desecrated the Aztec empire. He then cuts a symbol into his hand in a weird impromptu blood ceremony. Years later, Diego (Wilmer Valderrama) is all grown-up and living in East L.A. with his cute girlfriend Maria (Angie Cepeda) his Jewish homie Zak (Joel Moore). He is also haunted by mysterious visions, a ghostly voice (Alfonso Arau), and constant rain that seems to follow him around. He and Maria set up a date for Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the Mexican festival that honors the dead from October 31st to November 2nd. He dresses up in a mariachi outfit and appropriate skull face paint, but he gets into an accident on the way over to meet Maria. He awakens completely disoriented and walks over to a cemetery to watch his own memorial ceremony in progress and quickly learns he's been dead for a year. Called El Muerto, he is taken in by Aparicio (Tony Plana), the cemetery caretaker who witnesses Diego's powers of resurrecting the dead, near invincibility, super strength, and permanent ghostly white face. As Diego struggles to understand what's happened to him, a dark force is beginning to envelop him and those that he loves. The evil manifests itself as the old man who has returned to force Diego to sacrifice Maria to initiate the first phase of the Sixth Sun. But El Muerto refuses and angers the hoary Aztec gods how are just itching to carve up some Spanish ass for what they did to their spread. So Diego will need to grow an undead pair, ditch the Fez cute/dumb mugging, and kick some vengeful indigenous anti-imperialist ass.


The Dead One is based on a comic book by Javier Hernandez who wrote, drew, reproduced and probably self-distributed it as well. I presume the book captured the imagination of TV star Valderrama for its unique take on a Hispanic superhero with an origin deeply rooted in Mexican cultural tradition. And although the effort is admirable, the movie falls flat mostly due to a modest budget, a weak story, and an underused though stellar supporting cast. The first hour of the film is spent on Valderrama's agonizing over his transformation and coming to grips with his destiny, which unfortunately looks a lot like constipation. Consequently, little time is spent on character development and fleshing out the relationships between the principals, two elements of storytelling that low budget movies can afford. Another opportunity squandered is the underlying social commentary that I'm sure the comic book does a better job at addressing. The background mythology of the Aztecs is pretty much glossed over and presented here instead as generic evil voodoo bullshit. And lastly, the look of El Muerto leaves a lot to be desired. It's just Valderrama in discount Halloween make-up. But what they did do right in lieu of no budget for special effects is cast Billy Drago. That guy shows up as a hideous ghoul. It's hard to hate or be harsh or crap on The Dead One because the goal of creating a believable Hispanic hero isn't quite on any big Hollywood studio to-do list, a fact that's unfathomable to yours truly. Unfortunately, the movie falls victim to a lack of focus, super low budget, and not enough Mexican zombies.

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