I really shouldn’t need to introduce a movie called Gangs of the Dead. It is exactly what you’d imagine based solely on its uninspired title; an apocalyptic zombie film with gangsters. I know, right? It sounds like the most awesome movie that could possibly exist.
How could anyone not love a tragic tale of lower street-thug gang life meets flesh-starved zombies with no ambition other than to feast on the living? It’s like if George A. Romero had directed Boyz n the Hood, and honestly, that’s the movie I’ve been waiting for.
I’ve always felt like the angst of the clashing of the black and Mexican cultures in the urban South-West could best be told through an ingenious satire where the living dead represent something much deeper than mindless corpses.
No, I’m fucking with you. This movie sucks.
Gangs of the Dead introduces us to our characters with an opening sequence depicting two rival gangs, one of Mexicans and the other of black fellows, who happen to meet up at a black-market arms dealer at the same time only to be ambushed, not by police, but by hordes of undead who ambush the troops of cops who are attempting to bust the deal. Director Duane Stinnett quickly kills off the majority of potential characters to narrow the focus down to the rival gangs, two cops, and cowardly but hot-headed weather man named Dick Weatherman.
Throughout the duration of the film, more and more characters are killed off, usually by one another in an effort to become the “leader” of the survivors until Cesar, leader of the Mexican gang bangers, eventually falls into the seat of power. The director obviously dislikes the Spanish-speaking gang culture, as he establishes Cesar and his hombres as vicious, back-stabbing brutes whereas the colored-folk are depicted as living the life of “da hood” because there is no way out of it. He obviously chose to ignore the Equal Rights movement.
Now on to why Gangs of the Dead sucks. There are many reasons, so we’ll try to tackle them one at a time.
First off, the film makes a huge mistake right-off-the-bat by attempting to explain the source of the zombie outbreak as contagious pores from a space meteor.
Also, the zombie makeup is terrible, as the living dead are decorated as green-skinned monsters who drip some turquoise-colored shit out of their mouths.
The issues with poor representation of zombies doesn’t stop there, but instead extends to awfully-done and unnecessary sound effects for the zombies instead of just letting the actors moan and groan. There we are right away, if you are a zombie fan you already don’t want to see this, as the film screws up the most important aspects of a zombie movie from the get-go — the zombies!
But the issues don’t stop there, you’re also going to notice inconsistent white-balances that throw everything off, cheap editing tricks, awful audio with uneven levels, and some of the most hideous CG and special effects you’re going to find in an apocalyptic tale of zombies destroying the hood.
I found it amusing that, during scenes which take place on the roof of the warehouse where nearly all of the film takes place, you can see cars driving by on the highways and such surrounding the area. Usually the director tries to keep the camera tight around the actors or have them sit against walls, or simply point the camera straight down at the ground below, but there are a few instances where the already weak illusion is completely shattered by careless camera work.
Surprisingly, the acting isn’t as awful as you’d think. It’s just everything else that destroys the movie. And had the script been written as a comedy, I think everything would’ve been far more enjoyable. Instead, Gangs attempts to be an actual horror movie, and it is nearly impossible to even give it a chance thanks to its ridiculous set up and stupid premise.
If you’re looking for a good film, one that is enjoyable and will make you ponder, then this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a stupid zombie movie that is just plain bad for whatever reason, Gangs of the Dead is probably your best choice. The poor production quality and dumb premise (seriously… zombies eating gangsters) actually help to make this movie so bad that it’s kind of good. It is still thoroughly terrible, though.
Score: 4.0/10 (Bad)