Who says that all zombies have to be mindless brain-munching creatures? Well, George Romero, Lucio Fulci, Dan O’Bannon, Michele Soavi and Peter Jackson do, that’s who. But director Scott Miles has a few ideas of his own.
Horror freak high school outcast Ben finds himself hopelessly attracted to the new girl at Vincent Price High, Maggie. Well, it makes sense as she has a bone-white complexion, dark circles around her eyes and takes to wearing a long black wig. Sounds like something right up this horror kid’s alley, right? You bet! But it’s not until he discovers that she’s a zombie that he falls head over heels in love with her. She’s a zombie with looks, charm and yes…plenty of teen angst. While other high school girls get to whine about boring parties and dickheaded boyfriends, Maggie has major anxiety over the fact that she not only has to wear a wig to cover up her rotting scalp, but is also forced to feed upon the living. Ben understands her situation, helping her with her quest to find out exactly why she of all people have risen from the dead and how it is that she can return to her grave once and for all to rest in peace. It’s Ben’s understanding and willingness to help that finds Maggie falling in love with Ben. So, as a couple, until they can solve Maggie’s little problem, Ben guides Maggie in the direction of the biggest a******s of the high school for her dining pleasure.
What delights me most about this film is that Ben and his buddies are pop-culture, horror movie fans, yet writer/director Scott Miles has enough talent to be able to give his characters actual dialogue instead of having them spout film quotes like the jibbering idiots we see FAR too often in independent films today. Miles knows his characters, which are all very well developed, and he doesn’t need to stuff them with some other filmmaker’s clever dialogue. Not that there aren’t a few pop-culture references thrown in for fun. Yes, Ben is very well versed in the ways of the zombie through repeated viewings of countless horror films, yet he’s never caught mimicking Tom Savini from “Dawn of the Dead”. He simply uses a little of his knowledge to help his undead girlfriend. And yes, the high school is called Vincent Price High, which is an okay joke standing on its own, but Miles takes it a step further by placing the head of Vincent Price on the football teams letterman jackets, the football coach’s hat and even at the top of the school’s detention slips. Now that’s funny!
“Dead Flesh” is a perfect blend of zombie horror with romantic comedy, much like Heathers is a perfect blend of homicidal thriller with romantic comedy. Besides the numerous brain eating sequences, “Dead Flesh” stands, in my mind, as a great date film. But then again I like to date complete freaks, so there you go.
A great first effort from director Scott Miles and I hear that he’s getting fired up to begin work on his next film. Keep your eyes and ears open.