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Film / Dead Air (2009)

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"Folks... uh... it appears that there may be a situation... please, uh... please stay tuned..."

After violent riots suddenly break out in downtown Los Angeles, radio talk show host Logan Burnhardt and his crew become stranded, barricaded alone in their broadcast room and unable to leave for fear of being swept up in the chaos. As rumors begin to filter in about a bombing in a nearby arena and mass hysteria sweeping over the city, Logan decides that it is his responsibility to report what is happening to his listeners, both to keep them aware and to hopefully help save lives. But as the night progresses, the phone calls become stranger and stranger... his listeners report sightings of vicious, bestial mobs of people attacking armed police officers, civilians, and even young children. What's worse is that the attackers seem to have a craving for human flesh, and that their victims soon rise to join in the frenzy.


News stations from around the country begin to report similar bombings and riots in major cities across the United States. Struggling to keep his composure in the face of this madness, Logan grows increasingly terrified at his inability to contact his wife and daughter. They are far from the last of his worries, however, as he and his crew will soon discover that they are not alone in their building after all...

Dead Air is a horror film directed by Corbin Bernsen (Psych) and written by Kenny Yakkel. It was released on DVD in 2009. The film stars Bill Moseley (Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)), and Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5).

Not to be confused with the Truth in Television phenomenon of the same name, the 2007 Hong Kong horror film directed by Xavier Lee Pak Tat, or the novel of the same name by Iain Banks. Or, for that matter, the Zombie-riffic third campaign of Left 4 Dead or the song by the same name by Rufus Rex.


Dead Air contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: After the crew realize that their building is smack in the middle of a Technically Living Zombie Apocalypse, they all decide to start barricading the doors to their studio. While the male crew members are stacking up heavy tables and filing cabinets, the show's producer contributes by setting a small potted plant on the pile.
    Logan: Lucy... and what exactly is that supposed to accomplish?
    Lucy (walking off): Fuck you!
  • Black Dude Dies First: The security guard at the radio station, while not technically the first on-screen death, is the first of the named characters to die as the Synthetic Plague spreads through the city.
  • Clothing Damage: One of the first victims near the radio station has her shirt torn in half by an infected mob. The fanservice of this scene is limited, however, as she is violently beaten before rising as a blood-spattered zombie to attack a security guard.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Corbin Bernson appears briefly as DJ "Doc F" in the beginning of the film to deliver a single line while Logan is walking in late to the studio.
    Logan: Hey Doc!
    Doc: Ah, he arrives... Megan! Hold the door!
  • Dead Air: TV news broadcasts of the burgeoning Technically Living Zombie Apocalypse shock the protagonist DJ and his sidekick into momentary silence, leading to a panicked reaction from their producer, Lucy.
  • Downer Ending: Implied. Not only has Logan's wife revealed (to the audience) to have been scratched by an infected, Logan himself is coughing quite a bit in spite of having taken the anti-venom.
  • Dueling Movies: With Pontypool, another 2009 film about a Dumbass DJ trapped in his broadcast booth with his colleagues in the middle of a (Not) Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Dumbass DJ: Logan displays the insulting qualities of one at first, even if he's hardly stupid. This gets dropped as the crisis worsens, and he switches from being a snarky bastard to genuinely trying to help.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: One of the first signs that a character has become infected.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Logan and his on-air sidekick Gil enjoy teasing and even insulting their more colorful callers, however both seek to do everything they can to help the citizens when the crisis starts, with Logan manning the airwaves to give advice to the survivors who are listening and Gil volunteering to venture out on his motorcycle to save Logan's wife.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol:
    • When one of the surviving terrorists loses his pouch of anti-venom that would prevent him from getting infected, his leader hands him a pistol and leaves him with the following words:
    "There is not enough antivenom for the two of us. How you choose to leave this world is up to you."
    • Which kind of makes you wonder why he doesn't just shoot his leader and take the anti-venom himself, as their goal had already been accomplished.
  • Pretend Prejudice: Logan is forced to badmouth Muslims on the air by one of the terrorists, who are seeking to ignite a war between the western and Arab cultures through the attacks. His initial attempts at resistance and the revelation that his wife is, in fact, Muslim offer proof that he doesn't really mean what he's being forced to say.
  • Synthetic Plague: The Hate Plague in Dead Air is revealed by the terrorist who unleashed it to have been created by the U.S. Government, originally for use as a Depopulation Bomb against enemy cities in the Middle East.
  • Tears of Blood: These are one of the signs that a victim exposed to the Synthetic Plague will soon succumb.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The violent mobs are infected by a chemical agent released by terrorists, which causes them to violently attack any non-infected they see.
    • Very unusually for the zombie genre, these zombies can only last for a day or so at most before the virus kills them.
  • Working with the Ex: Logan Burnhardt works with his ex-wife Lucy, who is his producer. Very little romantic tension is shown between the two of them, as their relationship seems to have evolved to Just Friends status.
  • You Never Did That for Me: Used by Lucy when she overhears her ex, Logan, promise to pick up his current wife's brother from the airport.
    Lucy: You never picked up my brother from the airport!
    Logan: But, you never asked me to!
    Lucy: ... that's because I knew you'd say no.