Do you remember all the typical garbage you had to deal with in high school? You had to wear the right clothes, hang out with the right crowd, and get all your homework done so you could pass. All those seem hard enough to handle. Now add to your laundry list of things to do “Escape from my fellow students who have turned into zombies.” High School was bad enough before. Imagine having to attend “Detention of the Dead.”
A nerd, a jock, a cheerleader, a bully, a goth, and a stoner are stuck together in detention. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s just a typical afternoon in high school until ravenous zombies overtake the hallways. Now the motley crew of teens must put aside their differences in order to survive a terrifying night of the walking dead.
“Detention of the Dead” is exactly what it looks and sounds like. It’s “The Breakfast Club” and “Night of the Living Dead” blended together. It’s impressive how well Director/Co-Writer Alex Craig Mann takes a zombie apocalypse and uses it for the backdrop of a film about six high schoolers from different walks of life. Not only are they struggling to fight the stereotypes, but now they have to save themselves from being devoured by masses of teenage walking dead.
There are several ways “Detention of the Dead” pays homage to “The Breakfast Club.” Each of the characters here are basically updates of the ones in John Hughes’ legendary film. At one point, the kids climb through the air ducts, just like Judd Nelson’s character did in the classic 1980’s film. No matter how tough Nelson’s character was, he would have freaked out and ran in the other direction if he came face-to-face with these flesh-eaters.
It’s nice to see a movie where practical effects take front and center. Every scene of zombie carnage uses real props, giving the film a classic flavor sorely missing these days. The makeup for the living dead is good for the most part, with only a few missteps here and there when it comes to detail. This minor fault can be overlooked if you take into account how many people had to have makeup applied. Add to that the fact this is a low-budget flick shot in a small time frame.
The cast of “Detention of the Dead” is an impressive mix of television and movie stars. Christa B. Allen of “Revenge” plays the cheerleader. “Greek’s” Jacob Zachar portrays the nerd. Alexa Nikolas of “Zoey 101” and “The Walking Dead” takes on the role of the goth girl. Jayson Blair from “The Hard Times of RJ Berger” and “The New Normal” is the bully. “The Twilight Saga’s” Justin Chon plays the stoner. Max Adler of “Glee” portrays the jock.
“Detention of the Dead” is unrated, but if put before the MPAA would be given an R. There’s plenty of gore and bloody violence to satisfy bloodhounds. The language is what you would expect from a movie set in a high school. There’s no nudity, but plenty of adult situations and sexual humor.
The special features for “Detention of the Dead” will satisfy consumers. There’s a 42-minute Behind The Scenes feature which includes interviews with the cast and crew as well as plenty of footage from the making of the movie. Audio commentary is provided by Executive Producer/Writer/Director Alex Craig Mann.
Zombie films are a dime a dozen these days, and they’re all preaching some type of serious social commentary. “Detention of the Dead” rises above the multitudes of “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Walking Dead” impersonators by injecting a dose of comedy and relatable characters to the recipe. Everybody went to high school and they all fell into one of the social circles represented in the movie. The only difference here is that viewers probably didn’t have run-ins with zombies stumbling through the hallways. Okay, I’m not counting the potheads or druggies shuffling by as you ran to class before the tardy bell rings.
“Detention of the Dead” is available now on DVD and as a Digital Download.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
“State of Emergency” DVD Review
DVD Review: “Infected”
Lead Actors Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer Talk About “Warm Bodies”