Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Based on Josh Howard’s Dead@17 graphic novels, this short film by the same name stays true to the source material and by the end of its short run, you’ll be begging for more zombies and ax-wielding schoolgirls!
Nara and Hazy have been the best of friends since the 6th grade. Now they are in high school and Nara is offering support to Hazy, who has just broken up with her boyfriend. Hazy drops Nara off at her house that night, and Nara bounds up the stairs and into her bathroom to get ready for bed. After stripping off her pants, Nara starts brushing her teeth…until she hears and ominous noise. Figuring it’s her parents, she peeks into the hallway, where she sees a figure enveloped in shadow. He unsheathes a knife and Nara stumbles backwards into the bathroom, The killer, wearing a black mask, rushes at Nara and stabs her several times, leaving her to die on the bathroom floor.
Hazy is distraught at Nara’s death. One day, while visiting her grave, she is approached by two investigators who insist she come with them to the station. They tell her Nara was involved in the occult and even kept a diary chronicling the voices she heard. Hazy doesn’t believe it, but steals Nara’s diary anyway. Her friend Elijah picks her up from the police station and he also recounts a strange occurrence with Nara.
Hazy can’t believe what she’s hearing and heads home to her trailer park home. There she takes a peak at the pilfered diary and the undead come crashing through her thin walls! Guess Nara did have a little something to do with the occult… Just before all seems lost, a mini-skirt clad, schoolgirl-uniform wearing, ax-wielding and very dead Nara shows up and dismembers the zombies. Things are a little more complicated than Hazy originally thought, and now it’s up to the two of them to save the world…
Yowza! In its short 10 minutes, this film sure does pack a punch!! Fans of Howard’s comic will be pleased that director Mark Steensland closely follows the story, so much, in fact, that each shot looks like it was lovingly lifted from each of the the comic’s panels! This is definitely a film made by a fan for the fans. Even if you’re not a fan, this film will turn you into one and you’ll be Googling Dead@17 comics in no time! (Hint: They are published by Viper Comics, where you can get a sneak peek at volume one).
Everything about this short was a joy to watch, from the actors to the lighting to the cinematography to the zombie makeup. Right away you get wrapped up into the story and can’t wait to see what happens. The actors chosen to play Nara (Katelyn Gracy) and Hazy (Jessica Ciccone) look strikingly like the two characters and do a wonderful job of developing their characters within the first few minutes. We get a feel about who these girls are right from the get go and are behind them 100%.
The gore in the flick is short-lived, but, boy, is it sweet! We get stabbings, a pool of blood, zombie attacks, decapitations and dismemberment! This film is not a straight-up gore flick, but the gore it does contain looks great! I love the zombie slayage scene! Nara kicks some serious ass with her ax!
Dead@17 really brings Josh Howard’s work to life, capturing it’s energy, mystery and grue. Comic book or graphic novel adaptations are a tricky thing and no one wants them coming off goofy or silly, but Mark Steensland’s Dead@17 stands apart as an independent adaptation done right. It might be low budget, but it definitely has the spunk and charisma to garner the approval of fans and non-fans alike. Heck, it even has Howard’s approval!
When asked if he would make a full-length feature out of Dead@17, director Mark Steensland told us that, unfortunately, the rights to a movie have already been snatched up by some big budget studio. Here’s hoping this studio has the smarts to employ Steensland as director, because with his short Dead@17 film, he has created something truly special – a film both fans and non-fans love!
The film isn't available, but you can buy the comics on Amazon!