Sometimes, mixing horror and comedy just do not work, as in the case of Leprechaun: In the Hood, Return of the Living Dead 2, and the Scary Movie series, for example. Other times, the two genres come together like chocolate and peanut butter, as proven with Re-Animator, Tremors, and Shaun of the Dead. Girls Gone Dead, a horror/comedy co-directed by Michael (ROT: Reunion of Terror) Hoffman and Aaron T. Wells falls within the latter category.
The humor here is not a bunch of lame one-liners or slapstick goofball hi-jinks; the comedy in Girls Gone Dead is more of a subtle nature, with laughs coming mostly from the many cameos in the film. For example, we are treated to genre icon Linnea Quigley speaking with a faux Aussie accent (a Quigley Down Under joke, perhaps?). B-movie king Joel D. Wynkoop, usually seen as a cackling serial killer in movies such as Tim Ritter's Creep, is shown here as a donation-begging TV evangelist. Internet celebrity Shawn C. Phillips (YouTube's "Coolduder") plays a bar patron who gets very lucky (and then extremely unlucky). WWF wrestler/commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler portrays the stereotypical "useless authority figure", in the form of the calm and collected sheriff. Howard Stern wack-packers Sal "The Stockbroker" Governale and Beetlejuice appear, as well as legendary porn star, Ron Jeremy. Heavy Metal icon Nicko McBrain is here, too, though you'll have to keep watching through the end credits to see what he does in his spare time, when he isn't playing drums for Iron Maiden.
The story is a perfectly cliché slasher setup: it's Spring Break, and high school cheerleading squad friends are planning a weekend-long party at the home of the father of one of the girls.. Naturally, these gals are the traditional horror stereotypes: the saucy redhead Lisa (Krystyna Ahlers); the ditsy blonde Kelly (Caley Hayes); the closet lesbian Jessie (Ryan Keely); the bitch Missy (Shea Stewart); the smart brunette Mandy (Brandy Whitford); and the devout, religious virgin Rebecca (Katie Peterson). At a local dive, they hook up with a group of guys who work for "Crazy Girls Unlimited", a video company famous for filming drunken coeds in various stages of undress. The production team is hosting a party a few miles away in Daytona Beach, where a masked killer wielding a pollaxe (a medieval weapon, consisting of a pole with a hammer on one side and an axe on the other) is dispatching the cast one-by-one in gory detail.
It would be hard for me not to compare this film to Piranha 3D, not only due to the similarities of the nude college girls video company, but because Girls Gone Dead delivers exactly what I expect in a film of this nature: laughs, blood, and nudity. The film does not take itself too seriously, and you wind up laughing with it, rather than at it. Seeing Asbestos Felt from Killing Spree performing a rap song called "Hammersmash" while the killer is murdering people with an oversized warhammer is pure gold. The poor schlep who works at the bar in a gorilla costume had me laughing every time he was onscreen, and Shawn C. Phillips comparing sex to Dungeons & Dragons had this roleplaying gamer laugh out loud. As far as the blood and guts go, there is gore aplenty, courtesy of special effects guru Marcus Koch. There's fountains of blood, severed body parts, and even a mastectomy-by-battleaxe. Ouch. As far as the nudity goes, this film does not shy away one bit. In fact, the very opening scene proves this fact, and does not stop there.
The acting is very well done, and everyone involved were very believable in their roles. I thought that Brandy Whitford stood out among the cast, and I hope to see her in a lot more in the future.
The camerawork was superb. If I did not know better, I'd swear that this had a budget of no less than five million. The colors were vivid, the angles never bored me, and there were some inventive shots.
Another I must mention is the music. I really loved the soundtrack, from the opening title song (my favorite), which sounds like a team cheer song, to the closing ska tune. This was some quality work.
Even though the setup and characters are formulaic '80s slasher nods, the film itself is fresh and new, and there are enough red herrings to keep you guessing on the killer's identity. This is one horror movie that works on every level. It is my favorite horror movie of 2012 so far. I give this one five out of five stars.