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Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Forest of the Dead

Forest of the Dead
2007 (2008) - Elite Entertainment

I am a firm believer in the importance of DIY filmmaking. If you have a camera and an idea then you should by gum get out there and make your own damn movie! (Hey, that'd be a pretty good title for a book...) However, just because you can make a movie doesn't necessarily mean that you need to offer it up to a paying audience. Some DIY efforts are best shown exclusively to an audience of friends, family members and the harsh critics who haunt YouTube. Brian Singleton's no-budget Forest of the Dead is one such flick.

The sort-of-a-plot is the usual kids camping in remote area and getting killed off one-by-one schtick, although this time they get zombified instead of just corpsified. What exactly it is that turns the first camper into a zombie is never made clear. Regardless, we get the idea pretty quick that story is not of prime importance here. Usually in cases like this, the filmmaker makes up for their shortcomings by pouring on the gore good and deep. Eventually we do get some competent on-the-cheap makeup effects but they're mostly confined to the last 10-15 minutes. All but the most devoted or masochistic viewers will have lost patience long before the blood starts to flow. The interminable first hour is made up of horribly written dialogue delivered by some of the most obnoxious characters imaginable, woodenly played by the director's most tolerant friends. Even the effects aren't imaginative enough to redeem Forest of the Dead. They're fine for what they are but if Singleton expects anyone other than his immediate family to be impressed by them, he needs to push the envelope a lot farther than he does here.

Forest of the Dead has inexplicably come to DVD courtesy of Elite Entertainment. The movie was shot on regular old videotape and the image and audio quality are about what you could reasonably expect if you took your home movies to Costco to be transferred to DVD. The disc offers up a wealth of extras, most of which I did not watch. I listened to a few moments of the audio commentary by Brian Singleton and actors/crew members Mark Singleton and Miles Finlayson. However, the sound quality is even worse than the movie itself and I grew annoyed very quickly. As for the rest, there's a behind-the-scenes featurette, an effects featurette, a sound design featurette, outtakes and an early short by Singleton entitled The Return of the Dastardly Zombie Vampire Mummy from Planet-X. I didn't watch this stuff because as far as I'm concerned, extra features should be explored if you enjoyed the movie and want to learn more about it. I didn't and can't imagine there's anything about the making of the film I can't figure out for myself except for perhaps what brand of corn syrup they use in Canada for fake blood. I'm giving the extras a C+ on quantity alone. There's also a brief video introduction by the director before the movie that adequately prepares you for the level of humor and filmmaking sophistication in the film itself.

Look, everybody has to start somewhere and for all I know, Brian Singleton may well emerge to be a talented independent filmmaker. Unfortunately, he ain't there yet. I admire the perseverance and tenacity required to make a feature film of any kind. But until the DIY filmmaker develops a voice and vision of their own, all they're really producing is home movies.

Film Rating: F
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/D+/C+

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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