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The Dead Pit (Day 5)

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Gary Floyd

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05.) The Dead Pit (1989)

Plot: Years ago, Dr. Gerald Swan (Jeremy Slate) discovered Dr. "Bad reference to a great director" Ramzi (Danny Gochnauer) performing horrible experiments on patients. Years later, a woman known only as Jane Doe (Cheryl Lawson, looking great in a nipple hugging baby-tee and panties) comes to the mental facility. However, Dr. Ramzi has returned from the dead-as has a horde of zombies.

Review: Released to video in 1989 (complete with an awesome VHS cover with light up eyes), "The Dead Pit" was one of the last notable independent zombie movies for a while (well, until people decided to stop using camcorders to make zombie movies, but hey), and was the first movie from Brett Leonard. It has since garnered something of a cult following, with some claiming that it's a lost classic, while others calling it one of the worst zombie movie ever made. To tell the truth, it's neither.

For one thing, the acting (with the exception of Slate and Gochnauer) ranges from over the top, to just forgettable. As hot as Lawson may be, she can't act to save her life, though she at least seems to be trying. While the movie is largely played straight, it's attempts at humor are poor at best, with Ramzi spouting dreadful one-liners that making him look like a D-Grade Freddy. Also, it takes an hour for the dead to get to business.

When the dead do rise however, the movie picks up considerably. While not the goriest zombie movie, we get some choice bits: brains are torn out and eaten with relish, brains receive acupuncture, a heart is torn out, a scalpel is shoved up a nurse's nose, and zombies melt into puddles of goo. Also, the dead can only be killed with Holy Water in this movie, which makes for an original twist. The score by Dan Wyman is a little dated, but fits the mood perfectly, and contains some genuinely unnerving moments.

"The Dead Pit" is worth a rental at least, though hardcore devotees to horror have seen better. If anything, it's a nice time waster, though for a movie that loves to show brains, it doesn't have much brains on it's own.

Brett Leonard would go on to direct The Lawnmower Man, Hideaway, Virtuosity, Man-Thing, and the underrated Feed. His latest is the new Highlander movie.

Rating: 6/10 It's like a bag of Twizzlers-not bad, but you won't remember it.

Tomorrow's Movie: Vengence of the Zombies
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