Undead

"Weak"

Undead Review


Undead, a low-low budget zombie-sci-fi-splatter-comedy from Australia is the epitome of ambitious filmmaking gone horribly awry. This is a "kitchen-sink" film (that is, everything but) that outdoes Peter Jackson's equally absurd Bad Taste within the first 20 minutes. It's overflowing with outrageous effects, stilted acting, day-glo lighting, insidiously painful music and a needlessly complicated plot. While most low-budget horror flicks peter out in the last few reels, this film's co-directors, the Spierig brothers, push the film into zanier and zanier quarters until (at one striking moment) it eclipses it's own budgetary limitations and astounds. The moment, sadly, is singular and fleeting. What remains is a gloriously mad heap of celluloid inanity.

The small town of Beverly seems a peaceful place, but when a freak asteroid storm creates a rampaging army of flesh-munching zombies it's up to a motley assortment of flat characters to save the day. As is frequently the case in films like this it is the outsiders, the pariahs, who become the heroes. The heroes here are Rene (Felicity Mason), a depressed beauty queen, and Marion (the more than appropriately named Mungo McKay), a fisherman/gun shop owner with an alien abductee history. Rene and Marion navigate two cops and a pregnant couple towards the final arc of the rambling story when the film switches gears and becomes an outrageous sci-fi spectacle.

Leaving no cliché untouched, Undead trounces merrily through Matrix gunplay, Pulp Fiction standoffs, Dead Alive (Braindead outside the states) gore, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind lightshows. And then the Spierig brothers overlay it all with incomprehensibly bizarre antics: Marion farting up guns, zombie fish. In the third act, when the Brothers lay off the coffee or crack or dried dingo shit or whatever it was that they were buzzing on, the film moves gracefully. The sequence that I mentioned in the opening paragraph involves a night sky filled with people hanging like crosses against the moon while a small airplane navigates around them, the pilot recognizing individual faces. It's a haunting image and it's a shame it's over so quickly.

Undead is as much a "home movie" as you're ever likely to see on the big screen. The directors and their families financed the entire picture, every special effects shot (and there are quite a few) was generated on home computers, and the cast is amateurish in all regards. The Spierig brothers borrow heavily from every film they've ever admired but this is, essentially, their backyard version of War of the Worlds, and deep down you've got to admire their panache in trying to pull it off.

Undead opens with a credits sequence that's supposed to make it seem like a '50s creature flick or maybe a lost Ed Wood monstrosity. It's a move that really doesn't make any sense but is symptomatic of the film as a whole. Undead is neither an homage nor a lambasting of '50s drive in films. If anything it's some sort of retarded uncle to Peter Jackson's early features. As with most of Undead, the credits sequence is just another example of the Spierig brothers inability to edit their own wild imaginations.

Any zombies home?



Undead

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 4th September 2003

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 52

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Rene, as Marion, as Wayne, as Sallyanne, as Harrison, as Molly

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