The Dead Matter is a horror movie originally made by Edward Douglas of Midnight Syndicate in 1995. But at that time, it was filmed with a few friends, one camera, and $2000. Fast forward twelve years, and while Syndicate were writing the soundtrack for Robert Kurtzman's The Rage, Douglas proposed the script for the movie to Kurtzman. Soon, an all new Dead Matter was coming to life.
The movie starts off in Germany, where a horde of zombies flock toward a man holding an ancient Egyptian scarab, which appears to be controlling them. The man (vampire Vellich, played by Andrew Divoff) is stopped when hunter Ian McAllister (Jason Carter) steals the scarab away. After a chase ending with Vellich killing Ian's assistant Mark, the story moves to Gretchen Bennington (Sean Serino), a young woman still in mourning over her brother Sean's death. She leads her friends into the woods to conduct a seance in an attempt to bring Sean back, where she finds the scarab. As they happened not to notice Mark's corpse lying close by, all hell breaks loose when Gretchen finds herself in complete control of any dead matter. Several other important subplots are woven throughout - Vellich's vampiric rival Sebed (Tom Savini) also wants the scarab, and is running an underground drug-dealing business. Gretchen's friend Frank's diet pill business has just launched.
Reminiscent of many old-school zombie and vampire films, the movie's visual effects are the result of being shot completely on film instead of digitally. The soundtrack is, naturally, all by Midnight Syndicate. Even though the movie went straight to DVD, it received incredible reception from horror magazines and websites everywhere.
One important detail - the title, while it is referring to 'matter that is dead', is also a statement - those who are dead matter. And in this movie, they definitely do.
Tropes in The Dead Matter:
- Actor Allusion: Tom Savini as a vampire.
- All Just a Dream...Or Was It a Dream?: After the seance, it initially appears that Mark's rising from the dead was just a dream, but that's quickly disproved.
- Artifact of Doom: The scarab. Supposedly it was made by Osiris, which would explain a few things.
- Badass Longcoat: Vellich is wearing one at a few points in the movie.
- Canis Latinicus: Gretchen's recitation during the seance is technically actual Latin - but her pronunciation is nothing short of abominable.
- Creepy Child: All the children in Gretchen's first Nightmare Sequence.
- Dull Surprise: Although in Serino's case it's more like "dull unhappiness".
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Gretchen will not understand this, even when Jill is doing her best to convince her.
- Fingore: Involving the nails - Gretchen rips off every single one of Mark's fingernails at once.
- Gorn: Averted for the most part, as there's surprisingly little gore for a zombie movie, but there are a couple times - most obviously when Vellich rips off the entire bottom half of a guard's face and hands it to him.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Ian McAllister.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Fun With Mark The Zombie.
- Holy Burns Evil: Vellich gets a particularly nasty taste of this when he dies by shoving a cross down his throat.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The children in Gretchen's first dream.
- Teacher:You may eat him, children.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Mark, by Vellich. Sort of a turn-around of the usual roles of vampire and human, isn't it?
- Intercontinuity Crossover: The film appears to have a slight continuity cross with the worlds in Syndicate's Concept Albums, given that there's mentions of a "Haverghast Asylum".
- Ironic Nursery Tune: "Sean is in the ground, Sean is in the ground..." Sung to the classic "na-na na-na naa na!" tune.
- Jump Scare: Mark's appearance in Gretchen's room.
- Lesbian Vampire: Rebecca and Angie.
- Love Makes You Evil: None of this would have happened if Gretchen wasn't so desperate to bring back her brother. This is played with in the second-to-last scene, where Sean begins to rise up as a zombie, but Gretchen can't handle seeing what she's done anymore.
- Madness Mantra: Theanswerisdeaththeanswerisdeaththeanswerisdeaththeanswer...
- Mind Screw: The second Nightmare Sequence is Gretchen's own personal Mind Screw. And for the viewers, Vellich's visions at the beginning - they're obviously supposed to hint at something in his past, but we never get to learn about said past.
- Mood Whiplash: The hilarity of the meat and eggs in Gretchen's fridge coming to life is ruined by images of actual, human zombies rising from the morgue.
- Necromancer: Whoever holds the scarab instantly becomes a Necromancer.
- Nightmare Sequence: Gretchen has two, and Frank has one.
- Oh, Crap!: "Luxnul isn't a diet pill, is it?"
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vellich, for the most part, is an old-fashioned vamp - burned by sunlight, hurt by crosses and holy symbols, doesn't appear in mirrors. However, the vampires that have been taking the drug are immune to all of those things, and can appear completely human.
- Our Zombies Are Different: They have a few traits of Type V, given that they're completely at the will of anyone who holds the scarab, but there's also some completely new elements.
- Perky Goth: Jill.
- Product Placement: Product placement for Midnight Syndicate itself, with T-shirts, CDs, and actually saying the band title out loud at times.
- Sarcastic Confession:
- So, what were you doing last night?I was fighting a vampire.
- Surreal Horror
- Throw the Book at Them