The Horror Honeys: We’re not in Dead Kansas anymore, Toto.

We’re not in Dead Kansas anymore, Toto.

A Zombie Honey Indie Review by Bella

Dead Kansas (2013)

Occasionally you come across a movie that you fully expect to dislike. You turn it on and begrudgingly hit play, only to find that it’s not total shit and the shock of this pleasantness makes you enjoy it even more. Sometimes these are big-budget productions that make you wonder why indie films aren’t more available. And other times, they are low-budget indie films that reinvigorate your love for the small-time.


Dead Kansas is everything I expected it would be and, surprisingly, a bit more. I read a lot of reviews before sitting down to watch this indie five-parter on youtube and I was a bit nervous. Would I be able to review it? Would I want to gouge my eyes out? Would I want to gouge your eyes out? But alas, I take all reviews with a grain of salt (even my own) and I jumped right in. 


The plot of Dead Kansas isn't pretty straight forward:

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?

Dead Kansas is a little bit of The Wizard of Oz meets Freaks meets the Old Testament which makes for an interesting enough view in the zombie landscape. We’re still very much in Kansas (because that’s where this movie takes place), and Eve still “fucked up” (because a woman was the source of the initial outbreak). Only this time the black and white reality is what we see through the zombie’s eyes, and it wasn’t an apple that brought the destruction of mankind- but a zombie apocalypse.


Look, Pa, a zormbie.
You’re introduced to the movie from a zombie’s perspective, in black and white*, as it is shot dead - which is a bit of stylizing that I actually like, but I’m a fan of zombie movies that don’t feel the need to feature the actual zombies. You meet Glenn, a pastor trying to protect his daughter from the undead, and Emma* (aunty Em anyone?) the pure, female archetype who wants more from her life *faint*. But wait, there’s more… Very quickly the attention is turned towards Jebediah* and his boisterous brood: a streetwise gang of survivors who make do with what supplies they have, including a beheaded mannequin named Sally.

Supplies are running short and Sally is need of some repair. Jebediah, the “savior” here, has made a deal with an unknown man to get all the food, water, and tape to keep Sally together, that his clan needs for the low low price of: Emma. A plan is concocted and, in typical zombie movie fashion, the shit begins to hit the fan. Jebediah’s cohorts are attacked by zombies and he is left to fend for himself as Emma and Glenn take refuge in their cellar from a tornado**. When the weather clears Glenn, ever the dedicated pa, checks that the coast is clear only to be bitten by a zombie - probably displaced by the twister. 
He's got a pitchfork to shovel his own straw...
Emma, and her new found friend Skinny*, take the dying Glenn to the Shambles*; a palace of weird, where freaks* survive the apocalypse without the need for stealing and selling young women to strange men. Imagine that. The good freaks at the Shambles tell Emma of a surviving doctor* and off she goes… to save the day. Or at least her dad. But, of course Jebediah is right behind her and takes her hostage. As the good Doctor ponders a cure for the zombies, Skinny and Rusty* make their way to the compound to rescue Emma with the help of Leo*, a disgruntled member of the gang. Luckily enough, Jebediah keeps a truck full of zombies for just such an occasion and everything becomes black and white as the bad guys get their comeuppance. Meanwhile, poor Sally is broken in half; and Emma, Skinny, Rusty, and Leo drive their winnebago off into the sunset. 

Whew.
I want to go to the Shambles.
While Dead Kansas leans heavily on rudimentary, baser stereotypes of men, women, freaks, and mannequins - it’s hardly malicious and the characters’ quirkiness is pretty endearing. The delicate balance that zom-coms attempt to maintain is thrown to the wind here, and it works for them. There are no real big laughs and there are no big gore effects, but there is a ton of camp and a bit of the ol’ blood-n-stuff. It’s an indie production, so some of the acting is a bit stilted but still enjoyable. You may even recognize a couple of names in the cast list. The late Ben Woolf (American Horror Story: Freak Show) and Irwin Keyes (House of a 1000 Corpses) are both part of the Shambles plot line, but they are sadly, woefully underused.

Dear Sally, how you doin?
I didn’t hate Dead Kansas, not even a little bit. I might have loved it more if I had watched it as a series instead of as a movie, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. The quality - at least on YouTube - seemed to get worse as I made my way through the five parts, but I can forgive that as I was focused on the dedication to keeping the story on the yellow brick road.

Honestly, though, I’d love Dead Kansas to get a prequel with a focus on the Shambles.

Maybe a Sally backstory?

RATING: 2.5 Rolls of Duct Tape… to put Sally back together again.

*In case you didn’t catch all of the Wizard of Oz references: The movie starts in black and white, Emma (aunty Em), Jebediah (the wicked witch in pursuit of Emma), Skinny (the scarecrow), Rusty (the tin man), Leo (the cowardly lion), the Shambles (Oz), freaks (munchkins), the Doctor (the wizard)... and I’m choosing to believe that the zombies are those damned flying monkeys.

You can find the entirety of Dead Kansas on YouTube or on Amazon Instant