Dead 7 is a strange one.
The latest film from the geniuses at the Asylum (and I mean that as a compliment because there is definitely a strain of genius at the heart of The Asylum’s madness), Dead 7 premiered on SyFy last night. I watched it. My friends, the Snarkalecs, watched it. And about a million boy band fans watched it. As usual, the Snarkalecs and I attempted to live tweet the film. Unfortunately, for every genuinely witty tweet from me and my friends, there were a few thousand tweets from people begging Nick Carter to retweet them. A lot of wonderful snark got lost in the deluge of fangirl exhortations.
But I can’t really blame the fangirls. If I hadn’t discovered the joys of snark and if not for the fact that I have too much self-worth to beg anyone (no matter how hot or famous) for a retweet, I might have been there with them. Dead 7 is many things but it will probably best be remembered as the movie that featured a lot of former boy band members fighting and being eaten by zombies. (As more than one tweeter put it, Dead 7 was like watching all of your childhood cruses die a terrible and bloody death.) Not only was the film’s story conceived by Backstreet Boy Nick Carter but he also starred in it and convinced a lot of other boy banders to join the cast. Of course, neither Justin Timberlake nor Lance Bass are anywhere to be found in the film. (For that matter, I was surprised that Aaron Carter didn’t show up.) But the film does feature three Backstreet Boys, two from *NSYNC, Jeff Timmons from 98 Degrees, and O-Town.
(Fortunately, super creepy, super sleazy, and super imprisoned Lou Pearlman did not have a cameo. I imagine that he was one of the first people to be eaten during the zombie apocalypse.)
As for the film itself … well, it’s not exactly easy to describe. The plot was not always easy to follow and there was a surprisingly large amount of backstory for an Asylum zombie film. The apocalypse has come and gone and now, the world has been transformed into the old west. What remains of humanity lives in tiny and isolated communities. Gunslingers wander through the desert. High atop a mountain, a mad woman named Apocalypta (super scary Debra Wilson) breeds zombies and holds the town below hostage. Sheriff Cooper (Jon Secada) recruits a group of warriors to take out Apocalypta and her hordes.
(Incidentally, Apocalypta’s main henchman is named Johnny Vermillion. Johnny wears clown makeup and giggles uncontrollably. He also gouges out a man’s eye. Johnny is played by A.J. McClean of the Backstreet Boys and he makes for a surprisingly effective villain.)
Despite the fact that Cooper and his impressive sideburns are later eaten by a zombie horde, the warriors still go after Apocalypta. They are the Dead 7, not quite magnificent and almost all dead by the end of the film.
O-Town’s Erik Michael Estrada is Komodo. He’s a samurai. He kills a lot of zombies with a sword. Watching the movie last night, we all really loved Komodo but I think we mostly just liked the sword.
Carrie Keagan is Daisy Jane, who I liked because she was a woman who kicked ass. (Plus, Carrie Keagan was a good sport and replied to a few of my snarky tweets.) Daisy’s boyfriend is Billy, who is played by 98 Degrees’s Jeff Timmons. Personally, I think Dead 7 needs a prequel that will focus exclusively on Daisy Jane or Billy.
Joey Fatone is Whiskey Joe. Whiskey Joe is boisterous and always seems to be having a good time. He’s also always drinking whiskey but when he explained that he can blow himself up if he ever finds himself overwhelmed by zombies, I cringed a little because it was such obvious foreshadowing. If nothing else, Dead 7 forces you to consider whether a world without Joey Fatone is a world worth living in.
Whiskey Joe’s partner is the Vaquero (played by Howie Dorough). The Vaquero is good with a rifle and, at one point, calls Whiskey Joe “estupido.”
Sirene (Lauren Kitt-Carter, who is married to Nick in real life) is a mysterious woman who shows up nearly halfway through the film. She doesn’t say much but she’s good at killing zombies.
And finally, Nick himself played Jack. Jack is a man of few words, a stoic gunslinger who always does the right thing. Nick Carter does a surprisingly effective Clint Eastwood impersonation.
By the end of the film, only one member of the Dead 7 will still be alive. Can you guess who?
Beyond the cast (and former boy banders play even the smallest roles), the most interesting thing about Dead 7 is how seriously it takes itself. This is not another Sharknado 3. There’s very little intentional camp to be found in Dead 7. Instead, it’s a gory and violent film, one in which characters die terrible deaths while howling in pain. The juxtaposition of boy banders and blood makes for an odd viewing experience.
Fortunately, I like odd things. Dead 7 may not be perfect (the editing occasionally feels rushed and haphazard and, as a result, the story isn’t always easy to follow) but when it concentrates on zombie mayhem, it works well enough.
Keep an eye out for Dead 7!
(Just make sure that AJ McLean does snatch it out of your head…)