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September 2010

Army Of The Dead

cast: Ross Kelly, Stefani Marchesi, Miguel Martinez, Mike Hatfield, and Audrey Anderson

director: Joseph Conti

90 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
Final Cut DVD Region 2 retail
[released 13 September]

RATING: 7/10
review by Jason Brawn

Army Of The Dead

Based loosely on the legend of El Dorado, the city of gold, which has never been found, this film concerns those who have never returned from searching for it.

Present day couple, John and Amy Barnes, head off to the Baja desert with a group of friends, including the eccentric Professor Vasquez, to compete in a dirt racing trip. But Vasquez harbours a specific agenda, which is to find the lost city of gold. When he does, the curse is set, sending an army of skeletal conquistadors to attack and kill anyone in sight, including John and Amy.

Army Of The Dead is a very cheesy and trashy B-movie that I really enjoyed watching. Seriously, I was expecting this film to be crap, with a capital 'c'. But instead, what I found was a Ray Harryhausen style effects-driven movie fused with an overused Indiana Jones premise. The dialogue and some of the scenes are quirky, adding lots of entertainment. The special effects are a bit of a letdown.

For instance, the gore effects were done in CGI when they should have used proper make-up effects, to make it look real. But did enjoy some of the battle scenes between the skeletal figures and the campers, and also found the CGI fireball effects rather amusing. However, I must say the skeletons did look like they were done in stop-motion, giving it that Jason And The Argonauts look, and I loved the shadowy images of the skeletons lurking in the cave.

The acting would never be Oscar-winning material, but I insist you don't take this film seriously. It is nothing but low-budget fun and it's a good bad film, in the same league as Hawk The Slayer (1980). Army Of The Dead proves that you can stretch your imagination, when you have a meagre budget. Michael Bay, take note, please. But, I must say, if this film was made 50 years ago, it would be thrilling audiences in the drive-in screenings across the United States. If this film was made 40 years earlier, it would be playing as part of a double-bill to exploitation film fans. Give it ten years and the film will have a cult following.

The ending is a cliché, of course, but who cares? Just invite your mates round, down six pints of beer and have a laugh. A perfect Saturday night film...



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