I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't been reading about it in the media myself. Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, Major League) is making his directorial debut with a film called Dead Air, which follows the actions of a couple of radio DJs in the midst of a zombie takeover. Moreover, the film (currently in post-production) actually looks good. I've got to admit, I never would have expected it from the guy who played "Arnie," the quintessential cocksucker in an Armani suit on the hugely popular 80's network law drama. In Dead Air, Bernsen assumes the part of the mysterious "Dr. F."
Okay, so the murderous, flesh-hungry creatures in the film aren't zombies exactly, but rather the unfortunate, highly contageous victims of a "toxic viral gas" released by... You guessed it, terrorists. Not only should the film draw the usual horror crowds to the box office, but also those who happily pay their money to watch anything related to 9/11 or the Iraq War. America, fuck yeah! It's marketing genius, really. Aside from the fact that Dead Air promises to bring terrorism into what could be (should be?) a straight-up horror film, I still think that it looks incredibly promising.
First and foremost, it happens to star one of my all-time favourite genre actors.
Bill Moseley first caught my eye and stole my heart when he appeared as the flamboyant-yeat-fearsome "Chop Top" in Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Ever since that fateful day when our eyes first met, I have been following him in his blood-soaked exploits, and have even had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times. Moseley lends himself to the role of "Logan Burnhardt," the "ego-king of the airwaves," and judging by the storyboards that I have seen on the movie's official website, the faux-zombie attack brings out some of the more violent aspects of his personality. Bill Moseley is a beautiful brute, and I hope that the circumstances of this film require him to take his shirt off frequently.
Bill Moseley seducing me at Chiller Con in New Jersey, USA.Dead Air also stars horror/sci-fi veteran Patricia Tallman as "Lucy," although not much information has been released about her character. I choose to remain highly optimistic, as her body of work in the genre encourages me to expect greatness. To name just a few of her past projects, Tallman has appeared in: Night of the Living Dead (1990), Army of Darkness, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Babylon 5.
Fans of the zany 1980's classic Big will be pleased to know that David Moscow, the kid who played "Josh" as a little boy, is all grown up now and starring in horror films. His Mom has got to be proud. Moscow plays a character named "Gil," who I assume is Moseley's younger, more heartthrob-ish partner-in-crisis at the radio station. Try not to hurt yourself, little man, you're playing opposite a legend.
Poisonous gas-blowing terrorists aside, I am looking forward to seeing this film because it explores a facet of the classic zombie film that I often felt was under-utilized. In Romero's epic Dead Trilogy, fragments of media broadcasts in the midst of a terrifying, widespread epidemic served as highly effective tools for the creation of a more believable atmosphere. As a society, we have been conditioned to accept without question what is broadcast into our homes and places of business. Once we have seen something on TV, or heard about it on the radio, there is no choice but to take the information we receive as fact, and act upon it. I have always thought that following one of those spooky, sky-is-falling broadcasts as the chaos ensued would be a wonderful way to rejuvenate a stale concept.
Given the current "don't bake it; re-make it" mentality toward horror films, and the apparent reluctance of movie-makers to let any concept die, a little originality in the plot and a proven cast are always appreciated.
The film's screenplay was written by Kenny Yakkel, who appears to have more experience working as a film crew member than as a writer, producer, or director. Perhaps the efforts of two relative newcomers (Bernsen, Yakkel) will result in the clever, modern-day spin on a tried and true formula that horror fans have been anxiously awaiting? Only time will tell.
Update (6/14/08): A new trailer for Dead Air has been released, after the production team returned to the studio to re-shoot a number of scenes. In spite of the terrorist undertones, this movie is still looking incredibly watchable, and even enjoyable. Visit the official site to see for yourself!