There is a certain level of tolerance associated with today’s horror. If the production provides genuine fright, gore, and scare tactics, while pulling together a coherent plot and believable characters, then it largely succeeds. If the feature does not supply moments of intrigue and artistic vision, then it arguably fails.
Even between today’s standard and substandard horror films, a thin line exists. Most motion pictures cloud over the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) with sheepish torture and unnecessary sexual content. Most are more worried about containing creative killings rather than developing characters, and many hold body count in a higher regard than plot.
Alive or Dead is the epitome of this stupid horror stereotype that catches your eye at the video store and then expectedly fails on every level. It’s boring, corny, and sorry. Anyone who sits through its running-time leaves unafraid, uninspired, and unappreciative of wasting 83 minutes of their life. Think of Alive or Dead as a lowest-grade version of The Hills Have Eyes—stripped of any redeeming qualities. It’s bare-boned, bare-shackled, and just plain bad.
After Maria (Ann Henson) makes an attempt to have phone sex in her car (substituting her phone charger for an “engorged man muscle”), she locates an abandoned school bus with the words “Help Me” scrawled on one of the windows. Naturally, her tires go flat, her phone battery dies, and her flashlight doesn’t work. As a result, Maria borrows the fresh batteries from her personal vibrator to get her flashlight to work; then, she exits her car and investigates the scene.
Once inside the school bus, Maria finds a young woman named Sarah (Angelica May) with a bag over her head. Next to her are bloodied human corpses and remains. Suddenly, a man (Thomas Crnkovich) boards the bus – dragging a much larger man (L. Flint Esquerra) on with him – and drives off. Trapped in the rear of the now moving bus, the two females ride to a hellish castle in the middle of the desert. There, they fight for their lives and uncover a thing or two.