January 19, 2008

Dead Heist: Hip Hop Horror and a Guilty Pleasure at Best

When I saw the blurb about Dead Heist on Netflix, I knew that I was going to have to see it. How could a horror flick aficionado possibly pass up a description like this?

Four petty crooks get a tip on a small-town bank job worth millions. Their plan is perfect and every detail is in place, but as the job unfolds, they discover that this little town is overrun with bloodsucking monsters. Trapped inside the bank, the robbers fight to stay alive against the onslaught of mutants hungry for human flesh. E-40, DJ Naylor, Bone Crusher and Big Daddy Kane star.
A movie with man eating mutants and Big Daddy Kane? Sign me up!

I went in with low expectations and I wasn't disappointed. The acting was amateurish, there was only enough plot for half a movie, the special effects were low, low budgetand the whole thing is unbelievably silly. On the other hand, Dead Heist no doubt sets a record for the number of times the word "motherfucker" appears in a minute of dialog. I went back and counted; in one scene early in the movie, the word is spoken a dozen times in a single minute! Somebody get the Guinness people on the line.

So, here's the story. Four bumbling gangstas from Miami find out about a bank stuffed with cash in a little town called Maysville. It's practically unguarded. They go to the local kingpin to get the biggest guns on earth (because everybody needs a thermonuclear warhead to rob an unguarded bank) and he wants a cut. Because the gangstas are screw-ups, the kingpin sends along his best guy, Jackson (D.J. Naylor) to make sure everything goes smoothly. It doesn't go smoothly and the screw-up gangstas shoot a cop. They're holed up in the bank when the sun goes down and, as it turns out, a horde of zombies created by a military experiment show up and eat everybody outside. Then they get inside. A mysterious zombie-hunter (Big Daddy Kane) shows up. Luckily, he has lots more guns and knives and he tells the gangsta screw-ups, Jackson and a hostage sheriff's deputy how to kill them. One of the gangstas has clearly seen horror flicks before and knows that zombies are to be shot in the head. Wrong! The mysterious zombie hunter tells them that these zombies have to be shot in the heart. The entire second half of the movie consists of the characters killing lots and lots of zombies that have gotten into the bank. There's no attempt at a plot of any sort from that point on; the latter half of the movie consists of a few characters shooting and stabbing zombies in the heart with amazing accuracy. Do the characters survive the zombie attack? Gee, ya think?

Admittedly, Dead Heist is a bad flick. It's formulaic and, let's face it, dumb. On the other hand, it's hard to beat if you're looking for sheer body count. How three people manage to kill a few hundred zombies, the heap of which we see at the end of the flick, without getting so much as winded is hard to imagine. But they do. Somebody had to.

If Dead Heist were a sound, it would be a monosyllabic grunt. It's forgettable in every way. On the other hand, as bad as it is, I can't say I hated it, either. It's stupid, brainless fun. If one is willing to suspend not only disbelief but all rational thought for 80 minutes, one might even enjoy the thing a little.

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