Dead Air (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 21, 2013 | Comments
VM Distribution | All Regions, NTSC | 1.77:1 (Non-anamorphic) | English DD 2.0 | 89 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Corbin Bernsen
Starring: Bill Moseley, Patricia Tallman, David Moscow
Screenplay: Kenny Yakkel
Country: USA
Can you imagine my excitement when I discovered I was getting a new zombie movie to review?

Of course you can't, as there was none whatsoever. Since 28 Days Later (or maybe it was the remake of Dawn of the Dead) the glut of zombie movies has sent me into a pit of despair as my beloved underground zombie flick has become mainstream hooha. Is that horror elitism? Possibly, but I prefer to think of it as me being a zombie scrooge who doesn't want to share with those who attend zombie walks and think World War Z was the greatest zombie film of all time.

Anyways, enough of my anti-zombie hipster rant, and back to this film, Dead Air, which is directed by L.A. Law actor and star of horror film The Dentist, Corbin Bernsen, from a script by Stop It, You're Killing Me director Kenny Yakkel.

Terrorists screw up an attack on a Friday night basketball game and accidentally release a bio hazardous material that causes those who breathe it in to become flesh eating maniacs. This happens just a few blocks away from radio station KCBP, where late night shock jock and pop psychologist Logan Burnhardt (Bill Moseley) is broadcasting with his on air sidekick Gil (David Moscow), show tech Burt (Joshua Feinman) and producer (and awkwardly, Logan's ex-wife) Lucy (Patricia Tallman), who all find themselves trapped in their building as the blood crazed maniacs infect and kill everyone in their path. They decide to stay on the air during the 'attack' but will they survive the night? That may be difficult, seeing as how there are not only a few 'zombies' in the building, but also two of the escaped terrorists…

The first thing I have to say is how much fun it was to see Moseley and Tallman together again. It's been 20 odd years since they appeared all too briefly in the remake of Night of the Living Dead, but they had a great antagonistic relationship in that, as brother and sister, which carries over here as ex-husband and wife. Also, if I am honest, I've had a 'thing' for Tallman since that particular film.

Bernsen and Yakkel have created an interesting world here. The story is essentially about paranoia, and how easy it is to blame a minority group when one is misinformed, which also reflects on the power of the media in our lives. However, without thinking about all the underlying sub textual gaff, is it a good horror film?

Honestly, it's average. The 'zombies' are not a critical part of the narrative, and realistically, it could have been about any biochemical attack on the states, with the resulting rioting and panicking replacing the flesh craving maniacs. When Romero made his films, the message was clear, but it was not at the expense of the horror.

Basically Dead Air is the budget Pontypool, so only see this if you haven't seen that.
The Disc
Quite surprisingly for a DVD released in 2013, Dead Air is presented in a non-anamorphic 1.77:1 aspect ratio and honestly, looks like a 1990s made for TV special. I constantly felt like I was watching the film though a mild fog, and I am not sure if it was the way it was filmed or the mastering of the disc. The stereo soundtrack is exceptionally clear though, and presented in Dolby Digital.

As far as extras are concerned, we have a few.

First we have a commentary by Bernsen, along with Mosely and Tallman. It's quite possibly one of the most stilted commentary I have ever witnessed, and movie soundtrack didn't swing back in when they didn't talk, so there are periods of silence that are of the awkward first date type.

We also have a trailer for the film, a behind the scenes of piece, something called Fly on the Wall (which is a conversation between Moseley and Tallman about their craft) and Behind the Shot, which looks at the set up and execution of the longest single shot of the film.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Dead Air is a well-acted but obviously low budgeted zombie tale, with a little bit of a twist. Moseley and Tallman fans should find some entertainment value, but for everyone else, whilst I wouldn't actively avoid it, I wouldn't actively seek it out either: there are better films that tell similar tales, and not all of them horror flicks.
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