Given the current mini-Renaissance afoot in zombie cinema, it isn't that out of the ordinary to expect something unique from a title like Hood of the Living Dead. It is a zombie film that takes place in Oakland, California, dealing with a primarily black and Latino cast, and it does feature some political thought. Namely: white folks don't care; drugs are bad for the community; white girls are corrupting the souls of black men; people with senses of racial entitlement are going to get their asses eaten by the undead; some neighbors just ignore it when you shoot something seven or eight times in the driveway; and 911 is a joke, if you're calling about zombies. Unfortunately, these political perspectives are merely stated as text, as abruptly shoehorned in as the Wayans brothers' recursive "Message!" in Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood.
Oakland is the neighborhood that central character Ricky (Carl Washington, from the clown-on-a-killing-spree-in-the-hood classic Killjoy) wants to escape, taking his younger brother Jermaine with him. Unfortunately, Ricky's sense of moral absolutism sets in motion a chain of events that leaves Jermaine dead from a drive-by shooting. Did I mention that Ricky is a brilliant research scientist who works in a lab that has one computer, two mice and three beakers? Because he is, and he and his buddy/coworker Scott are working for The Man, developing a serum to regenerate ailing and dead cells. Ricky injects Jermaine with some of the untested regenerate formula, and before you know it, you've got four or five zombies, frothing at the face.
There's very little gore, violence, or suspense. The three or four funny lines all come within the first eight minutes. (When a lab supervisor asks Scott what he's doing, he replies, “Having a little breakfast; reading about Cuba.”) After that, it’s all ceaseless, witless profanity. Worse, the writer-director Quiroz Brothers never deliver on the promise of their title (or even their key art). The image of dozens of minority zombies rising up against gangbangers and drug dealers and ineffectual police would be incredibly potent and deliciously subversive. Instead, Hood’s boring gangsta zombies just avenge old scores while getting some of whatever gets in their way.
Image Entertainment's DVD presents the film in a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks like most shot-on-video efforts. There are many compression artifacts and the colors are inconsistent. The 2-channel audio track comes alive only for the occasional hip-hop cut on the soundtrack, while the dialogue is regrettably audible. Ten minutes of outtakes show the players had some fun making the film, which is most likely the only fun that will be had in association with Hood of The Living Dead. —Jason Shawhan
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