Deadheads (2011)

The dead will walk, talk and ride shotgun

Writers: Brett Pierce, Drew Pierce
Directors: Brett Pierce, Drew Pierce

DeadHeads (aka ‘Zombie Heads’) is a member of a small zombie movie subgenre: the main characters are zombies who have retained their ability to think. Like many films of this sort, DeadHeads is a comedy.

The film starts with Mike (Michael McKiddy) “waking up” in the middle of a zombie outbreak. What he doesn’t realise is that he’s also dead, he’s just retained his mental facilities. In fact he’s been dead three whole years. The truth is revealed to him by another sentient zombie, slacker Brent (Ross Kidder), and after a few beers the two decide to track down Mike’s girlfriend to whom he was about to propose before he died. Along the way they join forces with a Vietnam vet and a “pet’ zombie they name Cheese.

Unfortunately they don’t know that the zombie outbreak was an experiment by an evil organisation trying to find a way to use zombies as weapons. As thinking zombies, Mike and Brent are witnesses, evidence and ideal research subjects rolled into one. The organisation wants them back.

It’s not exactly the world’s most sophisticated storyline, but it doesn’t need to be. The plot is basically an excuse for a “zombie road trip”. During the course of this the Pierce Brothers manage to take off or reference just about every classic zombie film. Some are directly name-checked and there are even clips from The Evil Dead (1981), the Pierce Brothers being sons of Bart Pierce who worked with Sam Raimi on that film’s special effects.

If you’re a zombie movie fan then you’ll have great fun spotting the various references. For me the best scene was early on when our two heroes are actually on the inside with a group of survivors trying to keep the undead out.

So the references are clever, but what about the jokes? Is DeadHeads actually funny? Yes, definitely. The humour covers a wide spectrum, from subtle to crude, and it doesn’t always work – but I laughed a lot, which is more than I can say for most so-called zomcoms. There are also a couple of surprisingly touching emotional moments.

All the actors do their jobs well – you’ve got to feel sorry for Markus Taylor (Cheese) who manages to create a believable, sympathetic character despite having no real lines. The only sour note for me was McDinkle (Benjamin Webster). Webster does the character well, its just that the character is rather too strong compared with the rest of the movie. He’d have been funny for a couple of scenes but became annoying very fast.

The script and directing are nice and tight, the film is well-paced. And what a rare pleasure to find a film that starts and finishes at just the right moments with no flab on either end.

To get the most out of DeadHeads you’ll need to be a well-watched zombie movie fan. If you enjoy the genre and have no qualms about seeing it spoofed then I definitely recommend DeadHeads.