Discovering a worthwhile horror comedy that is released directly to DVD is a gleeful moment for buffs of the genre like myself, and I think I discovered one of the scariest direct-to-DVD horror comedies released in years. The terrifying film Dead and Gone is available on DVD July 1.

Poor Jack Wade. His famous wife is in a coma and they are steadily running low on money. But Jack has an idea — he’ll bring his wife out to an isolated cabin deep in the mountains where he can finally put her body to rest for good and gain the assets he so desperately needs. However, this is the same cabin where a man murdered his family 40 years ago and it is rumored to be built on an Indian burial ground. Now, killing his wife isn’t as easy as he thought it would be.

Harry Shannon’s inaugural screenplay is put into the hands of first-time director Yossi Sasson. The producers and screenwriter evidently trusted this rookie director to bring Shannon’s insane ideas to life. I think it was this trust that elevated this picture and it’s clear that Sasson knew where to go with this concept and how to execute it.

Don’t rent this film expecting full-on horror. Although it does have quite a bit of blood-spewing action, it has its moments of dark humor wedged in. But this is humor so dry you probably will find yourself thinking it’s funny rather than laughing out loud. It gels horror with deadpan comedy very well by not making us burst into laughter. It mostly benefits from flashy imagery and fast motion sequences that polish the look, tighten the atmosphere, and ultimately scare the hell out of the viewers.

Quentin Jones proved his ability to carry a movie, bearing in mind that he was pretty much the highlight of the film. There are a few well done cameo appearances by Kyle Gass from the two-man band Tenacious D and horror regular Zack Ward who first made his appearance as a child actor in the film A Christmas Story as Scut Farcus. These cameo appearances aren’t anything special, but might satisfy the few fans they have. It’s a gooey surprise and a solid debut for both Harry Shannon and Yossi Sasson.

In the vein of The Shining and The Evil Dead, this white knuckle thrill-ride will have you on the edge of your seat from its gripping opening scene to its twisted finale. Hell, you just might fall off your seat. The last 25 minutes of the film are truly frightening and there are enough harrowing twists and turns to maintain the intrigue. It even has a tingling score with a light chuckle tweaked in occasionally. Not only does it have the ability to send chills up the spine, but it will also have you biting your nails down to the core.

Look for it when it hits the rental shelves on July 1 and you can thank me later. DVD special features include the featurette “Gone with the Dead: Behind the Scenes of Dead and Gone“, filmmakers’ commentary with director Yossi Sasson and writer Harry Shannon, deleted scenes, outtakes, and a trailer gallery. 4.5/5 stars