Hood of the Living Dead (2005)

Equal parts Night of the Living Dead and Boyz N the Hood, Hood of the Living Dead delivers an interesting twist on the classic zombie formula. Zombies don’t always attack middle-aged white people in the suburbs — sometimes, they end up in the hood.

The story follows Ricky, a young and talented African-American scientist working in a research laboratory along side his partner Scott. The two of them are working on a serum designed to heal damaged or diseased living tissue. Ricky and his younger gang-banging brother Jermaine live together in the rough part of Oakland. Ricky dreams of “moving on up” with his brother, but their dreams are cut short when Jermaine is gunned down outside his home in a drive-by shooting. Desperate to save his brother, Ricky calls Scott and begs him to bring the untested serum to the crime scene, where the two of them attempt to save Jermaine’s life.

That’s where things go wrong. Really wrong.

During what would normally be a one-way trip to the morgue, Jermaine instead wakes up and eats the ambulance drivers. Then he’s off to get revenge against the gang bangers who took his life. Ricky soon realizes that the serum’s zombie-effects can be transmitted among the living through being bitten and eventually teams up with his co-worker Scott, his boss, Romero (a hired Merc), and Jermaine’s thuggy friends in a quest to rid Oakland of the trail of zombies Jermaine is leaving in his rampage.

As can be expected in a direct-to-video film of this budget, Hood of the Living Dead is no Hollywood blockbuster. The acting is pretty awful, with fairly unconvincing deliveries from almost everyone involved. There are also several pacing issues throughout the film; some parts seem to drag on forever, especially driving scenes which last minutes apparently for the sole reason of playing an entire gangster rap song in the film.

That being said, Hood of the Living Dead actually does quite a bit right. I enjoyed the urban setting of the film, and thought it made for an interesting change of pace from most zombie films. I also liked how the zombies were portrayed; anyone slagging the non-zombie-like appearance of the baddies in this film missed the point (for the most part, they’ve only been dead for minutes, not nearly enough time to rot). Likewise, a pseudo-explination is given as to how people are being infected, and the way to stop them makes sense. I am always willing to suspend a certain amount of credibility when it comes to horror movies, and it is always appreciated when filmmakers set up the rules of their universe and then stick to them. Hood of the Living Dead does this well.

While it lacks the spit and polish of a big-budget thriller, Hood of the Living Dead has its undead heart in the right place. I look forward to more films from these guys.

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