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Dead Above Ground...and starting to stink

 article about Dead Above Ground...and starting to stink


Dead Above Ground

**1/2

DVD

Directed by

Chuck Bowman

Written by

Stephen J. Cannell

Cast

Corbin Bernsen .... Mark Mallory

Stephen J. Cannell .... Mr. Haddon

Robert Conrad .... Reed Wilson

Adria Dawn .... Zara

Tony Denman .... Bobby "Monster" Mooley

Adam Frost .... Chip Palmer

Lauren German .... Darcy Peters

Reagan Gomez-Preston ... Latrisha McDermont

Lisa Ann Hadley ... Dr. Brenda Boone

Josh Hammond .... Jeff Lucas

Craig Kirkwood .... Jason Johnson

Cindy Margolis ... Kari McClure Mallory

Don Michael Paul .... Tom Bradley

Kelly Britton .... Keri Lynn Pratt

Antonio Sabato Jr. .... Sergeant Dan DeSousa

Charlie Weber .... Dillon Johnson

R

90 mins

Oh, I'm scared from the very beginning on this one.

I'm not scared because of the quality of the script, or the skill of the actors.

I'm scared right before I even took the video out of the box.

I'm scared because of five little words at the bottom of the box, in very small

print that you need to strain to see. And not "Lions Gate Home Entertainment production," either, scary as that usually is.

I'm scared because of this:

"Written by Stephen J. Cannell."

That's right...the guy who brought us fifty billion hackneyed crime dramas

decided that, somehow, he just wasn't hitting his stride on stuff like

"Hardcastle and McCormick", so why not take a crack at horror?

Even worse, the select cursor on the title screen is a pentagram. That

automatically loses points with me. Anyone dumb enough to use this tired,

hackneyed plot device in a menu select screen just doesn't merit much respect from me. Stop using the pentagrams-puerile, pointless blasphemy like that is like a four-year-old running around screaming the opening rap from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back at the top of his lungs. It's just plain disrespect to the audience.

Even ignoring these obvious problems, you know we've got a real winner on our hands, though what it wins is a big plaque laden with profanities.

So what we have here is the story of Jeff Lucas, a future Columbine Award winner from somewhere called Bay City. Jeff isn't what you'd call a popular kid, and the local popular kids seem to have forgotten the numerous lessons of school shootings and have marked Jeff for all the torment they can dish out. Things get even worse for Jeff after he makes a horror movie instead of a documentary in his Communications class.

The popular kids decide to take matters into their own hands for reasons that defy the logic of anyone with more firing brain cells than your average jar of mayonnaise, and engage Jeff in a little vehicular homicide, running him off the road in the midst of a high-speed chase.

And if you think Jeff is taking his flaming death amidst twisted metal lying

down, well, you don't watch very many horror movies, now do you?

I can't believe, genuinely, that bullying of this stripe keeps going on in

schools. Does nobody catch on? Does no one stop and think, "Hey, today's

picked-on no-name is tomorrow's mass murderer, with me on the bad end of daddy's gun barrel?" Okay, never mind that Jeffy's got a head like Pinhead in hair.

Never mind that Jeffy's entire personality seems to waver wildly between

"nihilism" and "gleeful in a Dungeons and Dragons sort of sense."

Never mind that Jeffy really does need a severe beating rather desperately, and this is from a fellow movie geek and high school popular kid target.

Never mind that Jeffy's movie, what little I saw of it, would get precisely zero

stars from me. In fact, my review of his schlocktacular title would involve

choice phraseology like "the worst of low-budget crap" and "patently idiotic."

Never mind even more that the incredible doofus they hired to do Jeffy acts

roughly the same way Richard Horvitz does when doing Invader Zim, except this isn't supposed to be a parody. Jeffy's over-the-top delivery of stale,

overblown lines like "You will all taste the axe of reckoning!" and "You're

totally unacceptable! You...are...about nothing. Mr. Haddon. Your end is nigh! You will die on the seventh equinox of maven!" just shows me how truly desperate Cannell was to drive this particular point home:

"Jeffy is a dark and sinister little goon who will be trying to kill a whole

bunch of people before the end of the movie, if he doesn't get his ass kicked

and sent home to his mommy with a really horrific wedgie first."

In fact, just never mind this entire movie, unless you're really interested in

laughing your way through the most hackneyed of dialogues and infantile

acting, if it can be called acting. And check him out at the twenty five

minute mark--he sounds like he's lip-synching to a Danzig soundtrack--screaming gutturally for a full minute.

The ending is exactly what you'd expect from a movie like this - no more, no

less.

The special features are nonexistent. There's not so much as a subtitle or

deleted scene to be had in the whole mess.

All in all, as a comedy, Dead Above Ground satisfies immensely thanks to

Cannell's fantastically overblown dialogue and the virtually no-name

cast's incredible ability for puerile acting. As a horror movie, however, this

wouldn't scare a nun. Look elsewhere to get your heart pounding.



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