Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So how does that old saying go?  Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and thrice is a trend?  Well if that saying is true then we may be on to something because in the last two days, I’ve seen two urban zombie movies in ‘Gangs of the Dead’ and ‘Dead Heist’, neither of which sucked total ass.  Surely this can’t be true can it?  I mean in the annals of cheap low budget horror movies, the urban horror flick has always suffered the most hasn’t it?  Well if these two movies are any indication then change is afoot people as  we are the lucky one to witness this historic event LIVE!  Finally that alleged ‘Greatest Generation Ever’, you know, those old geezers that were around during World War II?  They can step aside because there’s a new Greatest Generation Ever, the ‘Hood Zombie Flick Generation’, and to make that happen all I need is to see is JUST ONE more hood zombie flick that doesn’t suck.

Jackson (D.J. Naylor) is a tough guy doing some grunt bodyguard work for his boss Hustle (E-40 – who’s awesome in this movie) and quite honestly, he’s had enough of it.  As it often tends to happen in any movie having any crime elements, Jackson just wants to get ‘Out of the Game’.  If Jackson had seen as many movies as we have, then he would have known that you just can’t walk ‘Out of the Game’, at least not without a price.  The price being in this case, the always ubiquitous ‘One Last Job’. 

Across town Ski (Brandon Hardon) is slinging cane – or something in little brown packets – on Hustle’s behalf along with his boy Mike (Gerald Ferman Judd Jr.) and gets a call from his other boy Cotton (Jerelle Anderson) who informs him that his decrepit imprisoned uncle has floated the 411 about a can’t miss bank heist they need to pull off.  Note to self:  Anybody telling me about a ‘can’t miss’ criminal activity from

behind bars is a criminal activity I’m gonna pass on.  So Ski is adamant about pulling off the bank heist, giving this impassioned speech about how wants to ‘live his life’ and not ‘die in these streets’.  By robbing banks Ski?  Hopefully with a little hard work this brother can move up to securities fraud because the skies the limit for a cat with those kinds of ambitions.  Our future bank robbers need Hustle’s artillery to pull off this master job and Hustle gives them the goods, but assigns ‘one last job’ Jackson as the supervisor of this little endeavor.  While casing the bank Jackson meets a tall dark gentleman known only as The Hunter (Big Daddy Kane baby) who warns Jackson that something bad is about happen in this sleepy backwater town and he should stay inside this evening.  What he meant to say was this is this night the Zombies feed and you may not want to rob a bank because they will eat you when the sun falls.    The bank job goes haywire, the thugs are trapped in the bank, zombies are freaking everywhere and it’s looking like our anti-heroes aren’t going to survive the night.

There are a few reasons why ‘Dead Heist’ is pretty decent, not the least of which is that it is a professionally crafted piece of work, and that’s not something to be scoffed at in this particular genre.  D.J. Naylor, who could pass for Vin Diesel’s more racially ambiguous, less swollen yet more talented little brother, really knows how to deliver a line.  Another plus in this thing was the dialog and how it exploded from these actors lips so crisply and freely that one wondered was this stuff written or where they just improvising.  I know a lot of theses guys aren’t named, experienced thespians but believe me when I tell you that Denzel, Morgan, DeNiro and Pacino couldn’t delivered the dialog anywhere close to way these dudes were letting it flow, E-40 in particular.  Lastly, Big Daddy Kane was there going to work baby.  I didn’t even that brother was still alive. 

Unfortunately, as much as I liked everything leading up to the zombies, when the zombies showed up the magic kind of left the room.  Director Bo Webb wasn’t quite as adept handling the massive amounts of zombie action sequences as he was directing his actors in the closer quartered dialog scenes.  The zombie scenes had a very staged feel to them as certain zombies were obviously waiting to for their cues before they attacked and these were the Carl Lewis sprinter style zombies, where as a personal pref I like slow moving stupid zombies, but that just me though.

Regardless, two nights, two entertaining urban hood zombie movies.  Just one decent urban hood movie period is a revelation, but something as specific as this is a marvel to be sure.  Just one more folks, and we can honestly say that now is the greatest time ever to be alive.

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