Detention of the Dead (2012) poster

Detention of the Dead (2012)


aka School of the Living Dead

USA. 2012.


Director – Alex Craig Mann, Screenplay – Alex Craig Mann & Rob Rinow, Based on the Play by Rob Rinow, Producers – Brooke P. Anderson & Michael Manasseri, Photography – Noah Rosenthal, Music – Cody Westheimer, Visual Effects – Eye Candy (Supervisor – John Ikira), Production Design – Danika Von Gesjen. Production Company – Gala Films/Made in Michigan Entertainment.


Jacob Zachar (Eddie), Alexa Nikolas (Willow), Christa B. Allen (Janet), Jayson Blair (Brad), Justin Chon (Ash), Max Adler (Jimmy), Joseph Porter (Mark), Michele Messmer (Mrs Rumblethorp)


A group of students are gathered for detention at Lincoln High School. One of the group attacks the teacher Mrs Rumbelthorp and collapses, after which she becomes infected and starts to attack the others too. The group realise that a zombie outbreak has occurred around the school. They decide to relocate to the library and barricade themselves in on the grounds that no students would be found there.

The zombie film became legion during the 00s, following revivals like Resident Evil (2002), 28 Days Later (2002) and Dawn of the Dead (2004), as well as the phenomenal popularity of tv’s The Walking Dead (2010-22). These were followed by a vast flood of copycats, mostly low-budget, with little to distinguish them.

It was the British spoof Shaun of the Dead (2004) that led the way to a more comedic take. From there, we have had the emergence of the gonzo zombie film – see titles such as Zombie Strippers! (2008), Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (2009), Santa Claus vs. the Zombies (2010), Bong of the Dead (2011), Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), Night of the Living Deb (2015), Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), among others. (For more of an overview of the genre see Zombie Films).

Detention of the Dead, known also as School of the Living Dead in some parts, is another of these Gonzo Zombie Films. That said, the title is the most amusing thing about it and thereafter the film largely plays itself straight with no comedy or tongue-in-cheek elements. The most that could be said to be comedy is one incredibly lame sequence where a zombie grabs Justin Chon by the dick and holds on even when its arm is severed, but that is about it.

Justin Chon, Max Adler, Jayson Blair, Christa B. Allen, Jacob Zachar and Alexa Nikolas in Detention of the Dead (2012)
(l to r) Justin Chon, Max Adler, Jayson Blair, Christa B. Allen, Jacob Zachar and Alexa Nikolas

The film has largely been construed as The Breakfast Club (1985) with the addition of zombies. Like The Breakfast Club, it features a line-up of the assorted caricatures that fill out an American high-school – the nerd, the jock, the bully, the stoner, the cheerleader, the Goth chick. Although here, these are more broad caricatures than the character studies that John Hughes engaged in. Not to mention, this is also swayed towards the nerd becoming the hero of the show – and perhaps somebody’s wish fulfilment fantasy in which both the Goth chick and the hot cheerleader desire him.

The film is okay but as blends of high school and zombies go, it has nothing on the all-out ferocity of the subsequent South Korean tv series All Of Us Are Dead (2022), which has essentially exactly the same premise as this, but with far more of an unsentimental brutality as it readily despatched the characters. This on the other hand is a fairly lightweight zombie film.

Detention of the Dead has been the (to date) sole directing and writing outing from Alex Craig Mann who has several credits as an actor in film and tv, usually very minor bit parts. The film is based on a play by Rob Rinow that originally ran at the Beverly Hills Playhouse Research Space for one month in 2009.

Trailer here

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