(By Matt Konopka) Ask yourself…how many times have I seen a zombie get a blowjob from another zombie? If the answer is zero, then good for you, I don’t recommend it! But if there’s a part of you that thinks life just wouldn’t be the same now without seeing it, I have some good news for you. A wise horror villain once said, “We have such sights to show you”. Truer words cannot be said about the offering that is Dead Squad: Temple of the Undead…
…Directed by Dominik Hauser, with a script by Hauser and Nancy Thornhill, Dead Squad: Temple of the Undead, (aka, Nazi Zombie Sex Temple), parades itself as being based on a true story and follows a group of obscenely stupid friends who get lost in the jungle, where they discover a temple. Looking for shelter for the night, the band of sex-crazed kids decide to stay in the temple over night, but soon discover that it is home to a horde of nasty zombies created by evil Nazi experiments (is there any other kind?).
Got all of that? Good. Other than laughably attempting to label itself as being based on true events, (remember that news report on the zombie temple from a few years back?), Dead Squad makes no attempt at trying to be anything other than what it is: A riotous, gory good time. This film is like that 90s Nickelodeon game show, Legends of the Hidden Temple. Only instead of kids figuring out puzzles in an effort to avoid getting slimed, we have gratuitous nudity, violence, and zombies that are hornier than our cast. But the core purpose remains the same, in that this is all about fun. You won’t find much pessimism or dark cult rituals here. This isn’t Temple of Doom. If Temple of Doom and Dead Squad were two dudes at a party, Temple of Doom would be moping in a corner, while Dead Squad ran around in his underwear, shot-gunning beer and dry humping the wall.
Needless to say, Dead Squad is the brainless cheesy B-horror movie destination for fans who enjoy the genre stripped down to its most basic standards. It’s cheap, bloody, and hilariously absurd. Oh, and there’s lots of sex, just not the kind you’d expect. Hauser delivers us a movie that is completely senseless in the best way possible. I don’t know why I’m watching zombies go down on each other, or why a “Zombie Queen” (Erika Ervin) is dancing erotically for the hulking behemoth that is “Z13” (Conan Stevens), but with Dead Squad, we’re just along for Hauser’s ride, and it’s best not to ask too many questions and just enjoy the show. Dead Squad revels in low-quality cheese, substituting gourmet brie for expired Kraft “American cheese” slices. If zombie sex isn’t enough, then the porn-quality music by Hauser should get you in the mood for Dead Squad, or at least make you question your life decisions. Hauser fills his film with the sort of babes, booze, and boobs mentality that made up a good portion of late 90’s/early 2000’s direct to video horror films, all of it shot like a made for MTV film by cinematographer Ariel Salati. The editorial “screen wipes” to propel us into the next classless scene are just the icing on the cake.
Yet despite us going behind the scenes at the zombie Playboy mansion, the characters are surprisingly reserved, minus Ethan (Guy Talon) and Tiffany (Bianca Zouppas), both of whom are not below getting it on in a creepy dusty temple while their friends worry about more important things like, I don’t know, not dying. You still have all of the basic stereotypes common in teen horror films, such as the nerd, the bimbo, the jock, and they’re all dumb enough to make me think they’ve spent too many nights drinking paint thinner. I mean really, if I were ever trapped in a strange temple, the LAST thing I’m doing is letting anyone tell me we’re splitting up to explore. While the acting might remind you of a beginner’s improv group, the cast is entertaining in their effort to just go with the whacky writing and complete lack of, well, character. We really don’t get to know anything about these people outside of their most basic labels. Out of everyone, Aneesha (Alina Carson) is the only one to stand out as a resourceful badass who also happens to have a backstory (even it comes out of left field at a point where it adds nothing to the story). It isn’t often you get to say that the zombies have more depth than the main cast in a zombie film, but Dead Squad is the exception to the rule.
Aside from an ass-kicking performance by Carson, Stevens steals the show as Z13, the Mack daddy of the mutated zombies lurking about the temple. Part zombie, part WWE wrestler, Stevens is an intimidating presence, done up with an exceptional makeup job that makes him reminiscent of the Nemesis from the Resident Evil series. Hauser and Thornhill decide to give their main villain an emotional spectrum which goes beyond the very cast which he is hunting and ripping apart. Z13 isn’t just a rampaging monster. Like Frankenstein, he retains pieces of his humanity, such as love, compassion, lust, and, of course, rage. There’s so much more behind those glowing red eyes than one would expect. Whether or not these more human moments are necessary or have any impact on the overall story are debatable, but Stevens shows he has muscles beyond his skull-crushing arms by flexing his ability to portray a variety of emotions without dialogue and through the stiff rubber of a monster suit. I’m not saying he’s the next Kane Hodder, but Stevens would be a welcome addition to any horror film as a guy who can do more than just scare people.
Speaking of scares, you won’t find many in the halls of Dead Squad. Frankly, I don’t get the impression that Hauser wants to scare his audience as much as he wants them to scream with laughter, a goal which he accomplishes in spades. Dead Squad goes beyond goofy, and serves its audience a flavor that countless B-horror films aim to achieve yet end up serving over-salted anchovies instead. Dead Squad, regardless of all of its flaws, is of the so-bad-its-great variety. You’ll die laughing from an array of exceptionally bloody kills which are dripping in shock value, some of which feel fresh and completely original. Hauser clearly has an understanding for what makes zombie films fun. Each and every scene tries to top the last with “what the fuck” imagery, and the effects team does an incredible job in designing a variety of glistening, creepozoid flesh munchers that deserves two rotting thumbs way up.
Dead Squad may not have many surprises plot-wise, except for a few meaningless twists towards the end, but Hauser manages to channel films like Return of the Living Dead in terms of pure zombie entertainment and mix it with putrid turds like Zombie Strippers for what is ultimately ninety minutes of gory sleaze that are great for an afternoon with a six pack. Brains need not apply to hang with the zombies of Dead Squad.
Dead Squad: Temple of the Undead is now available on VOD.
By Matt Konopka