Rene Perez’s zombie/sci-fi flick “The Burning Dead” puts some heat into the zombie lore by mixing supernatural with the classic disaster flick. The film stars Danny Trejo, Tom Downey, Moniqua Plante, Robert F. Lyons, Nicole Cummins, Kevin Norman, Julia Lehman, Kyle T. Heffner, Tom Nagel, Adam Gregor, Jenny Lin, and Morgan Lester. The story revolves around a community being evacuated as the local volcano becomes cataclysmically active. A family trapped below the eruption face more than a pyroclastic flow as a curse is unleashed with the eruptions sending fiery undead raining down on the community.
The story is a standard disaster, impending doom scenario that has become the norm for such channels as Syfy. And for all tense and purposes, “The Burning Dead” seems specially produced for the channel that has brought cheap, CGI entertainment to American audiences. The same dramatic stakes arise in the story as a family reconnects in order to see that all survive the coming disaster. The twist here is the added supernatural element in the form of a curse which has lava fueled zombies raining down on the cast and picturesque landscape. As ridiculous and beyond sci-fi as the story premise sounds, the concept translates into a entertaining, all be it cheesy spectacle.
The acting is pretty much what you would expect from a flick like this, sometimes contrived, often over-the-top scenes of melodrama mixed with screams and amusing dialog delivery. If you have enjoyed or delighted in any of the “made for Syfy” flicks similar to this film then “The Burning Dead” will give equal bemusement. It is pretty much a cookie cutter assortment of CGI induced disaster action sequences and practical make-up effects zombies. A lot of the situations and dialog does seem far too familiar as with most of these stories, but like junk food, it is all about the melodrama and cheap theatrics.
Overall, “The Burning Dead” will not pull in any new fans to this CGI infused genre, but it holds its own against anything Syfy or the “straight-to-video” market puts up next to it. Trejo fans may be slightly disappointed considering the limited part he has in the film, but the scenes that his character is in are some of the more grounded ones. I felt he was under utilized , but that is just my thoughts. For what “The Burning Dead” is, the film has some amusing, and entertaining moments. The zombies, when not drowned in CGI emptiness, fall more toward the “Zombi” style than the “Night Of The Living Dead” creatures.