Among the Dead | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Among the Dead


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Among the Dead, Factory Theater, at the Chopin Theatre. While some companies do camp send-ups of cult horror films, others seriously aim to re-create their look and feel. Factory Theater has done both in this wickedly funny homage to George Romero, Sam Raimi, and other purveyors of low-budget gore. Ryan Oliver's story--millions of corpses come back to life and lay siege to the civilized world in an apocalyptic dark future--is so improbable and gruesome it could pass for a straight-to-video knockoff. Even Oliver's forays into typical Factory Theater parody, such as his grim deconstruction of the convention of having an attractive, good-hearted couple at the story's center, are now, thanks to postmodern practitioners like Wes Craven, accepted elements of the horror genre.

But no cinematic shockmeister I've seen has yet created a work that intertwines comedy and pulpy horror as tightly, and successfully, as Oliver (who also directs). An army of actors, fight choreographers, sound people, and makeup artists helps him achieve this goal. The acting style is epitomized by Mark Montgomery's brilliant performance as the sadistic leader of a band of paramilitary survivalists: the pompous posturing of this Patton wannabe is at once hilarious and an important facet of his character. Like the other inspired ensemble members, he's determined to do everything he can to make you laugh as your flesh crawls--just in time for, er, Christmas.

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