The Mad (2007)

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A horror-thriller in which a doctor and his teenage daughter are terrorized by flesh-eating zombies at a truck stop. --IMDb
Billy Zane
Billy Zane
Maggie Castle
Maggie Castle
Shauna MacDonald
Shauna MacDonald
Evan Charles Flock
Evan Charles Flock
Jordan Madley
Jordan Madley
Review by Chad
Added: May 25, 2007
Here we have what could be considered a zombie film (the zombie status is debatable) which... wait, keep reading, this is actually a good one. Yes, although I've grown accustomed to watching low-budget zombie movies that end up being heaping piles of shit, I still can't help but to check out all of the new releases with the hope that maybe, just maybe, one of them will renew my faith in the genre. The Mad can easily be considered one of those films.

It all begins when a very dysfunctional family - Jason Hunt (Billy Zane), his soon-to-be new wife Monica (Shauna MacDonald), his daughter Amy (Maggie Castle), and Amy's boyfriend Blake (Evan Charles Flock) - head to their remote cottage for a weekend of relaxation. Don't all of these horror movies start that way? As they're driving towards their destination, Monica suggests that they pull over and spend some time at a backwoods carnival before spending the night at the local bed-and-breakfast, and although her plan for a fun day starts off innocently enough, it soon takes a turn for the worse... the much worse. You see, the local farmer has been using some sort of medicine on his cattle in order to treat them for mad cow disease, but unfortunately for the town that relies on him for their steaks and burgers, this medicine makes the infection much more deadly. Anyone who eats this tainted meat is turned into either a flesh-hungry zombie or an infected killer (depending on whose side of the story you take), and as if that wasn't bad enough, the beef patties themselves can attack our helpless heroes.

With a description like that, one shouldn't exactly go into this film with expectations of a horror classic as the vast majority of it is presented in a goofy, humorous fashion that actually worked and had me laughing almost from start to finish. The humor goes from the splatstick variety straight into a hearty helping of self-referential humor (the discussion about what, exactly, these things are was comedic gold) and even strays into the family comedy area from time to time, and let me tell you - most of the comedic aspects of this film worked, as I lost count of how many great laughs I got out of the affair.

Now, that's not to say that this is a pure comedy film with zombies as a plot device; on the contrary, there's actually a solid horror offering lurking behind the laughs, and there's at least a full half hour of zombie carnage once the infection breaks out. There's still a touch of humor mixed into the affair, mind you, but don't think for a moment that a couple of laughs is all that The Mad has to offer. Zombie fans will definitely enjoy the massacre that takes place, and gorehounds will enjoy the grisly aftermath.

My only real complaint about the film is the way that the last twenty minutes or so is presented. Once the characters discover who and what is responsible for this madness, they set out to put an end to it... and the film pretty much dies right about there. The attention is shifted away from the zombies and towards a pair of rednecks, and although there were a couple of good moments here, I couldn't help but feel a bit letdown that we didn't get some sort of final showdown between the humans and the zombies. It's not a complete and total bust, but a little script rewriting would have worked wonders here.

Still, I have to recommend this one as the majority of the running time is great. There's plenty of laughs, plenty of the red stuff, and Billy Zane is in top form here - the man completely steals the show away from everyone around him, and he was a treat to watch as always. 7/10.
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