Nothing can be worse than being stuck on vacation with your clueless father and his overly sexual girlfriend. Until, of course, you take a detour at a quaint diner famous for its organic burgers, and come to find that its specialty is turning people into angry drones with a case of mad cow disease.
The 2007 horror comedy, The Mad, stars Billy Zane (Demon Knight) and Maggie Castle (Todd and the Book of Pure Evil) as a father and daughter trying their best to get along and adjust to each other’s significant others while on a road trip. The tension between the pair is already heightened when they make the fateful stop that forces them to put their differences aside and work together to survive. The duo faces their issues and rebuilds their relationship all while slaughtering the grazing mad.
The Mad is easily overlooked by moviegoers because on the surface, it doesn’t have much that makes it stand out against the competition. The premise, along with the DVD artwork, is enough to make a person prematurely decide that it’s not worth watching. However, upon viewing the campy film, there are unique and genuinely funny moments that make the movie an enjoyable experience and actually better than some bigger budget horror flicks that are released today.
The pairing of Zane and Castle as the father and daughter was spot on. Both characters had quirky personalities that meshed well together and both actors’ deliveries in specific scenes were done perfectly enough that the jokes were understandable—and funny.
It was refreshing to see Zane in a fatherly role, one that he played with the right amount of wit and dry humor, showing off his comedic chops and range of character, which was completely different than his character in Demon Knight. Castle is also naturally funny as she played the moody teen effortlessly, showcasing the talent that landed her the role of Jenny in Todd and the Book of Pure Evil.
Zane and Castle’s performances in the film are enough to keep you watching and it is clear that the pair understood the point of the film and the way that the characters were meant to be presented. The Mad is an intentionally cheesy and campy horror that did not want to be taken seriously. Because the actors understood what the director wanted to present, they were able to give off the comedic feel to audiences, making the exaggerated scenes seem reasonable.
One particular scene, a dialogue between the group of characters on the issue of zombies and the undead, is the highlight of the film. In most zombie movies the characters are completely clueless as to what the monsters are; in The Mad, they poke fun of this and actually question what they are dealing with. One cannot help but laugh as Zane and the others question what zombies actually are and how one becomes a zombie. The use and misuse of the term, along with the word “undead,” is talked about in a way that is subtle enough to make you laugh and not make you want to roll your eyes.
Along with the zombie discussion, there is another scene where Zane’s character, a doctor, insists that he needs to get an infected person to examine and somehow use the information to create a cure. Zane’s deadpan delivery, along with the immediate laughter from the rest of the group, makes for another hilarious moment, mostly for its self-awareness of the genre. The scene acknowledges the over-the-top situation and includes a ridiculous scenario that characters in similar movies often say, poking fun of it and balancing out the situation.
From there, Zane and Castle’s relationship grows stronger and their comfortableness with each other really shows on the screen. The pair is very good at playing off one another, which works well in another scene where they have to kill the mad people while simultaneously having a heart-to-heart conversation in a field. The way in which the scene was done is memorable because it was both funny and somewhat serious at the same time, allowing the characters to get “sappy” with each other without taking away from the rest of the film’s “horror” element.
There are several moments that are worth mentioning about The Mad because it is a creative movie, despite its overly-done “zombie” story. Although the movie isn’t entirely laudable due to a slow start and some unnecessary scenes, it is a decent campy horror overall. The atmosphere had a very 50’s/60’s monster-movie feel, similar to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
Yes, the premise is ridiculous but that was the point; the film is supposed to be unbelievable and exaggerated for the sake of making one laugh. Horror fans will appreciate the bits of humor and references sprinkled throughout the film and even though they may not enjoy the entire movie, they will be able to get a good laugh at certain moments that were specifically made for them to understand.