Wednesday, October 2, 2019

THE MAD (2007)


Maggie Castle, Shauna MacDonald, Evan Charles Flock, Jordan Madley, Rothaford Gray, Matthew D. Matteo, and my personal savior of bad cinema Billy Zane.

More details here.



Dr. Hunt (Zane), girlfriend Monica (MacDonald), daughter Amy (Castle), and Amy's boyfriend Blake (Flock), are out on a family road trip and decide to stop at a brutally bucolic tourist trap.

Behold the Griswold-esque misery
Amy hates her potential stepmom Monica.  Monica is self-absorbed and also hates Amy.  Blake is a clueless doof.  Dr. Hunt listens to 80s New Wave, ignores his bratty daughter, and aches for a handy from his girlfriend.  And there you have the psychological dynamics which will drive this meaty narrative.  

They lunch at a cafe known for its 100% organic burgers locally sourced by beef from Sutter Farms, a nearby slaughterhouse.  Unfortunately, the Sutters feed their cattle supplements bought from the "inner-net" which results in contaminated meat and pissed-off hop head cows. 

They're moo-ed as hell and aren't going to take it anymore!
So as fate would have it and because this is America, someone horks down the contaminated meat and all the townsfolk go koo-koo for blood and guts and attack our little traveling family, resulting in an untimely death for poor Monica.

"No one told me she wasn't gluten free!"
Dr. Hunt tries to figure out how to scientifically explain the epidemic by dissecting his former girlfriend.  Unfortunately, he's distracted by her constant chattering from the great beyond.

Several wacky hijinks later, the gang teams up with the cafe's chef and waitress in a showdown against the increasing number of burger-breathed undead. 

Reaction to "Hey, everyone here's your paycheck!"
But the zombie hordes are just too much and the survivors' number dwindles to just Dr. Hunt and Amy who decide to trek to the Sutter Farm and see if the epidemic can be stopped from the source.  There they meet Farmer Sutter (Matteo) who's gone already murderously madder than his burger-patty pets. 

"I wanted to be Five Guys, not Five Dies!"
With the farmers defeated (or were they?), the zombies destroyed (or were they?) and father and daughter reunited and stronger (or were they?) and the audience satisifed (we weren't), Dr. Hunt does the two-step with a dancing zombie for some reason.  

"Still better than being in Titanic."


The mid-2000s saw America struggling with economic near-collapse, political strife, domestic unrest, global terror, an increasingly fractured society alienated by technology, and seemingly endless warfare.  Oh, and Spider-Man 3.  And while all those terrible things were going on, something kind of wonderful emerged like a seedling finding daylight in a sunbaked Tempe parking lot.  America fell in love with zombie movies again.  

In this recent era of undead cinema resurgence, 2007’s The Mad chronologically lands comfortably between Shaun of the Dead, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, and The Walking Dead.  And while it borrows the comedic spirit of Edgar Wright’s horror comedy classic, the movie possesses nowhere near the quality or competence of those cultural zombie hallmarks.  But like its similarly themed movie brother Black Sheep, it did try to weaponize the fear of Mad Cow Disease, another mid-2000s troubling thing, into a plot point for quick and dirty zombie chucklefest.  Despite this unique take, it's ultimately squandered for pot jokes and long unfunny stretches of family bickering.  One thing worthy of note though is the goofy homage to 80s New Wave soundtrack by Half Past Four who deliver Bud the Chud vibes with their title track.  But hey if quick is what you’re looking for, then you’re in for an 80-minute romp, mostly harmless, mildly amusing, totally just OK. 

Now while The Mad is not good, it does have its charms, mostly in the form of stalwart and dependable star Billy Zane.  He instantly classes up the joint onscreen despite the awful material he has to work with.  Oh, where do I start with Billy Zane?  Much like Halloween Hell’s Eric Roberts, Zane possesses all the tools for super stardom that sadly has evaded him.  A slithery but appealing swagger, the ability to play the heavy and hero interchangeably and with ease, disgusting handsomeness, and an otherworldly exotic look.  Is he Middle Eastern?  Eastern European?  Eastern Western?  Unfortunately, top-billing, eight-figure paydays, and hundred-dollar bills as snot rags did not happen for Zane and the reasons appear baffling, but probably not difficult to track down.  In The Mad, Zane is just not collecting a paycheck as his comedic timing was hundreds of notches above his well-meaning co-stars.  Goddamn it, Zane should be a bigger star, but we Zaniacs will have to settle for zombie cheapies, the occasional TV cameo, or the hidden camera I’ve sneaked into his house.  What? 

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