31 Horrifying Days- Day 6: Dead Before Dawn (2013)

A bunch of college kids accidentally unleash an evil curse that causes people to kill themselves and turn into Zombie Demons, aka ZEMONS! (Or dombies, Cassie Hack knows)

So, essentially the plot is somewhat Evil Dead: people driven crazy enough by a curse to eat their own hands or play with a hornet’s nest or set themselves on fire. The characters are Breakfast Club style archetypes, something that plenty of horror flicks: from Cabin in the Woods to Detention of the Dead has tried with more or less success. It also adds slapstick humor to horror elements in a way that’s very reminiscent of “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”.

Image

The main character, Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick, Art of the Steal) has been afraid of his grandfather’s occult shop since his father died there when he was a child. He agrees to watch the store and when his crush, Charlotte comes in he tries to show off by showing her this cursed urn. Which breaks. The group unknowingly concocts the world’s most inane curse: Anyone they make eye contact with kill themselves and become zombie demons who will try to kill them with hickies and if they French kiss them the zemons will be their slaves, and if they don’t break the curse before dawn they’ll be cursed forever.

With a plot that includes death by zemon hickies, it’s obvious that there are laughs to be had. Some of those come from Casper’s grandfather played by the legendary Christopher Lloyd, who even drops a “Great Scott!” in for good measure.

The group splits up initially with only Casper concerned about the curse they created. But when night falls and the town starts turning demonic, they quickly realize their peril. 4 group members Charlotte, cheerleader BFF Lucy and football players Dazzler and Patrick end up turning both teams. Seth Munday works at a convenience store and runs into a large portion of the town. Becky turns her blind date while Casper accidentally causes his mother’s death. With pandemonium ensuing they are in a race against time to stop the curse. There’s also a couple love connections. 

This film is mostly fluff. The characters act younger then they should and there’s no real uncharted territory being pioneered here. Still, it is enjoyable.

There are some interesting running jokes (hot dog mug, for example). And the plot is simple but cohesive from start to finish. Low on gore, but there’s bucket of blood and creative ways to die.

But is it scary? Nope. Not by a long shot. The set up is amazing. I adore the concept of the characters creating their own curse. But even with the copious amounts of blood, it’s too cartoony to fear.  

The characters aren’t more than tokens. One black character, action chick with bow and arrow, quirky beta male, crush, rival, “slutty” cheerleader, stoner dude… it’s been done. There’s not much depth. Well.. there’s not really any depth. 

2.75/5

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil- Season #2

Picking up right where they left off, the gang gets back together with a +1. (Jenny’s comatose father)

These episodes also had a different Crowley High student getting their hands on The Book, there was also more meta-plot. Jenny’s not sure if she can trust Todd of if he’s going to go all Pure Evil, Hannah becomes part of the book, Jenny works out her daddy issues and Curtis gets an awesome robot hand, Todd starts to doubt himself and thinks he might be too dangerous, the guidance councilor gets weirder, the three stoners in the parking lot get a back story, so does Jason Mewes.

Image

Favorites included: Season 2 Episode 6 “Fisting Fantasy” where the gang becomes trapped in an RPG video game and have to journey/fight/dance their way through the game. Some rad stuff happens and Todd faces the reality that he might not be the hero in this story.

Season 2 Episode 8 “Loser Generated Content” where some AV nerds frame up Todd to make his friends suspect he has indeed gone Pure Evil using cliche horror movie techniques. Jenny calls Todd out for stalking her and he comes to the conclusion that maybe he is a creepy stalker who should back off.

Season 2 Episode 10 “two girls, one tongue” It’s a musical and it’s awesome. Here, just watch this video:

Some episodes were silly and insanely immature (like the invisible pervert episode) but then Jenny keeps it cool. Like when Todd goes out to badger girls who have been peeped and Jenny keeps reminding them that the girls are the victims, not the suspected perv.

Unfortunately, the season ends with a bit of a cliff hanger. The gang is down a member! How could they leave me this way?? 

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil- Season #1

Todd Smith, stoner high schooler enters Battle of the Bands. It doesn’t go so hot for Todd. He embarrasses himself in front of his dream girl, Jenny and his band doesn’t make the cut. Woe is Todd!

 

Todd finds a book! Is this book Pure Evil? well yes, it is. But some magic words make his wish come true. And of course, things never turn out the way the wisher intends. Don’t worry, Jenny saves his ass. Turns out that the only clue she has about her father’s mysterious disappearance is a picture of the Book of Pure Evil. 

Image

The book keeps ending up in the hands of other Crowley High students (it is explained that the book appears to the depressed and desperate, who fits better than a high school student?) and it always gets freaky. Todd, Jenny, Todd’s one armed friend Curtis, and the nerdy Hannah. The guidance councilor is a Satanist,  Jason Mewes is the janitor and some stoners in the parking lot know more than they are letting on.

It’s a lot like Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny meets Scooby Doo. It’s hilarious.

And as foolish as it might sound there’s some clever shit happening.

Like Episode 3, where Jenny’s friend Marcie invites horny dudes over to her house for orgies and then feeds them to zombies. Much less cliche than most other anti-teen-sex scenarios. 

Or Episode 4, Gay Day, in which a gay student getting bullied finds the book and wishes that everyone in the school knew what it was like to be gay. The book complies and he becomes straight, all other boys become gay. And he says “I don’t want to be straight, I like being gay, I’m good at it!” and Todd says, “I’m not.” and laments that his entire identity is caught up in trying to get into Jenny’s pants.

In episode 7, Terrible Twin Turf Tussle, there are some of maybe the best lines on TV of all time, Jenny starts dating Dee, who’s real name is Delilah, which she doesn’t go by because “I’m named for a patriarchal Bible story that demonizes femininity.” Dee struts around in a Meat is Murder TeeShirt and watches Roller Derby, of which she says, “Isn’t it wonderful, they’ve liberated violence from male oppression. And the outfits are totally cute.” 

Image

 

On the other hand… in that same episode… Dee and her twin, also a lesbian are implied to be having a relationship. It reminded me of this interview I read with Teagan and Sara where one of them said that creepy weirdos always ask them if they fool around with each other, and then they said “If you’re straight does that mean you want to fuck your brother?” and I thought, man, are people really that stupid? And apparently they are.

In episode 5, fat phobia is presented as a logical thing to have as the school is attacked with obesity… 

Image

 

I know, really, that’s hideous. Before anyone says “why are you trying to take this show seriously, there was an episode where someone wished for a monster cock and it was longer than a python and turned people to stone?” Yeah there was. But really things that are ludicrously problematic could have been avoided. It was unnecessary, and it took away from the funny for me. There I said it.

All in all, it is very funny, and I really don’t understand why it got cancelled. Honestly it reminds me of my high school friends. Look! It’s me from high school!

Image

 

I’m the one dressed like a vampire (who wears a cross… le sigh).

Where are everyone’s parents? Ironically the only parental unit we ever hear about is jenny’s dad… who has been kidnapped. And the guidance councilor’s dad who is a cult leader.

There’s a ton of pot jokes, and hormonal teenage insanity and it’s hilarious. There’s a campaign to get a third season and/or an animated movie to polish off the series, check it on your Netfix and then head over here