Directed by: Aaron K. Carter
Written by: Aaron K. Carter and Nicholas A. DeNicola
Starring: Alexandria Lightford, Erin Miracle, Irwin Keyes, Ben Woolf, Aaron Guerrero, Michael Camp, Joe McQueen, Kevin C. Beardsley and Anthony Della Catena
Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic land consumed by "Rottens", a simple farmer and his teenage daughter struggle to survive. Meanwhile, an unruly gang make a plan to kidnap and sell the daughter for their own selfish profit. With the farmer/gang confrontation, a wicked tornado approaching, and "Rottens" everywhere - who will get out alive
Some spoilers ahead.
Review: Dead Kansas follows the clash between Emma, her preacher father and friends and Jebediah and his posse. Jebediah wants Emma as there aren’t many women left alive and he has promised her to a man of power for food, protection, ammo etc.
Jebediah, his brother and some members of their posse comes to Emma’s father’s farm to take her by force which ends with the posse members dead and Jebediah having to kill his brother after he gets bit by a “Rotten”.
Soon Emma’s father gets bit and severs his arm to prevent turning and Emma and her father head to a freak community known as Shambles in search of a doctor. Along the way Emma meets 3 friends and tries to avoid Jebediah while trying to find a way to save her father.
One of the things I really enjoyed was the way the Rottens were done. The Rottens were never shown til the end. They were completely represented by black and white footage shot from their point of view. This gave Dead Kansas a unique look and style.
It also took a lot of story elements from Wizard of Oz. They manage to pay homage to that story and use it as a basis for doing their own thing. It never got in the way.
One small complaint is that Jebediah’s initial grudge felt extremely petty. Something that would probably have been forgotten about once the zombie apocalypse happened.
Now for some interesting facts about the film:
Are there "Wizard Of Oz" themes in "Dead Kansas"?
Yes. Some of the characters and storylines are modeled after the classic 1939 film. Emma (mirrored as Dorothy) is tired of her boring farm life. She gets thrown into an adventure after a tornado hits. She goes to Shambles to meet the freak people (Munchkins). She befriends three men along the way; Skinny (Scarecrow), Rusty (Tin Man), and Leo (Cowardly Lion). She also seeks Doctor Emerson (The Wizard) for help. Jebediah (The Wicked Witch) is the main villain on pursuit to capture Emma. The theme of "no place like home" is also touched on.
Are the "Rottens" similar to zombies?
Yes. In fact, the "Rottens" are zombies. There is only one physical zombie, in full make-up, towards the end of the film. The other Rottens are never shown. They are only simulated via Point Of View (POV) in black & white. The camera acted as the Rotten’s eyes in certain shots, while the actors reacted. As tempting as it was to use traditional make-up and show the Rottens, the director specifically chose POV to do something different. In fact, this (might be) the first zombie film to extensively use POV.
Why was the main actress replaced mid-way through the film?
Each act was filmed months apart. During the second act, Alexandria Lightford announced that she was pregnant. Production wanted to film rest of movie with her, but conflicting schedules made it impossible to get it done before she would start to show. Production decided another actress would have to jump in and take over. Erin Miracle, a local bartender, was their choice.
Dead Kansas is a low budget zombie film that I applaud for doing something different in a genre that has frankly been done to death.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Dead Kansas can be found on Amazon Instant Video at the link below.