What you get with The Video Dead is direct-to-video gem from the ’80s that feels, at times, like a modern-day parody of that era. I mean, the main character is in college, studying aerobics and music video. Yeah, seriously. Here’s the plot: a cursed TV that shows an endless loop of the faux film Zombie Blood Nightmare (along with some other weird shit, including a noirish succubus and a grizzled demon slayer) comes into the possession of a family in the ‘burbs. The zombies escape the television, murder ensues and the heroes (two unsupervised suburban teens) are left trying to kill the zombies and restore normalcy, with the help of a former owner of the TV who happens to be some kind of cowboy.
This thing is all rough edges but it’s got its merits. Some highlights: a bride zombie who wields a chainsaw, a brilliant plan that involves dangling live human bait from a tree to lure the zombies in for the kill and a machete/chainsaw duel that ends as badly as can be imagined. The zombies here are interesting. They are plenty decrepit but seem to have an unusually high degree of self-awareness for the undead. They can’t stand their own reflections, for example, and seem to remember at least some things from their days among the living. They even display a macabre sense of humor at times. They’re also unkillable — shooting them, cutting them up and other trauma just slows them down temporarily.
As interesting as elements of this are, it’s not really surprising that it is so obscure. The plot is full of holes, the acting is shoddy and the direction is strictly functional in the most limited sense of the word. It’s weird — IÂ kind of hated this while I was watching it, but as soon it was over I realized it was pretty cool in its limited way. If you run across it at a garage sale or maybe on late-night TV, it is definitely worth a look.