Syfy has begun making a conscious effort to change its image over the last two years, looking to shift back to being known for original programming like The Expanse and adaptations of classic science fiction material like Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End after a long stretch of producing low-budget, deliberately trashy “Syfy Original Movies.” It was this approach to the network’s branding that seemed to peak with the unexpected pop-culture infamy of the Sharknado movies — the fourth of which is now in production.
But that doesn’t mean the network has given up on high-concept schlock completely: The channel’s newest original, Dead 7, pits Wild West zombies against a breed of heroes that also refuse to stay dead: 90s boy bands.
Produced by B-movie specialists The Asylum (who formerly specialized in “mockbusters” aping popular theatrical films before breaking big with Sharknado) and directed by music video specialist Danny Roew from a story by former Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter; Dead 7 features a zombie outbreak threatening a remote frontier town in the American West. The only hope for the embattled residents and some unlucky visitors are a team of armed rescuers — who all happen to played by current and former members of 1990s boy bands like the one Carter was in. Because, after all, why not?
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In addition to Carter, fellow Backstreet alums Howie Dorough and A.J. McLean are in the mix, teamed with one time N’SYNC “rivals” Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. 98 Degrees’ Jeff Timons and Delious Kennedy from All-4-One are on hand as well, plus Art Alexakis from Everclear and No Authority’s Tom McCarthy. Most heavily represented are the members of O-Town, with Dan Miller, Trevor Penick, and Jacob Underwood — backing up fellow O-Towner Erik Michael Estrada, who opts to take the zombie’s on with a surprising display of samurai-swordsmanship.
It’s all in good fun, of course, following both The Asylum and Syfy Original’s standard dictum of pairing marketable horror/monster premises with eye-grabbing casting of celebrities who’ve reached the made-for-cable-movie phase of their respective careers. If nothing else, it certainly looks energetic and to be taking full advantage of its goofy premise; with decent-looking zombie makeup and a large enough cast to stage some impressive action sequences. Carter is the driving force behind the film, which was originally set into production as “Dead West” to replace an earlier Kickstarter-funded project, Evil Blessings, which was scrapped when its director unexpectedly passed away.
The rising marketability of 90s nostalgia has thus far been a boon to many boy band veterans, most of whom were not able to embark on post-heyday careers to match Justin Timberlake’s. The Backstreet Boys are supposedly working on a new studio album for 2016 and planning a possible tour with The Spice Girls. O-Town’s members reconstituted as a quartet in 2013 and debuted a new album in 2014. While otherwise consumed with casting announcements for Sharknado 4, The Asylum and Syfy have begun promoting the film now, ahead of it’s seemingly very appropriate release on April 1, 2016 — April Fool’s Day.
Screen Rant will have more details on Dead 7 as they are made available.