How do you make a zombie film without zombies, or at least without showing them? And why would you want to? Director Aaron K. Carter (AN HOUR TO KILL) has the answers to your questions in DEAD KANSAS. A very low budget film with some very rough edges but some very original ideas.
Set in a future where the world is overrun with zombies, or “rottens” as they’re called. Former preacher Glenn (Aaron Guerrero) tries to live a quiet life with his daughter Emma (Alexandria Lightford/Erin Miracle). However, the plague that created the rottens also wiped out most of the world’s women. This makes her a prime target for Jebediah (Michael Camp) and his raiders. The fact there’s already bad blood between the two men makes violence inevitable.
The outlaw’s attack as both a tornado and the rottens close in. Emma and Glenn escape but he’s bitten in the process. The pair ends up in a community of freaks led by Squeak (Ben Woolf AMERICAN HORROR STORY, TALES OF HALLOWEEN). Emma and her new friends set out to find Dr. Emerson (Darryl Dick) and his assistant Giant (Irwin Keyes HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES) who might be able to save Glenn. But can they evade their enemies living and dead long enough to do it?
The script by Carter and Nicholas A. DeNicola is a mix of Romero, THE WALKING DEAD and themes from THE WIZARD OF OZ. It also never loses sight of the fact that the biggest threat is always other humans. The zombies are there, we don’t see them but we do see things through their eyes at times. It’s not only creepy, it drives home the point that Jebediah and his gang are the worst villains in the film.
Filmed over a period of months as a five-part web series before being combined into a movie, DEAD KANSAS faced many of the same problems other microbudget productions face. It also needed to replace the lead actress when she became pregnant and they couldn’t finish her scenes before it became obvious. The two actresses don’t look alike and the change is jarring. Apart from that, however, the film looks quite good for its budget.
DEAD KANSAS is certainly worth a look for those who don’t mind films shot on a shoestring. It’s currently available on Amazon Streaming and it’s Facebook page mentions a remastered Blu Ray version in the works.
I can’t find a trailer, so here’s a promo from the web series.