In the early part of the 21st century, an unknown deadly virus is spreading among the population. The planet becomes infested with a new threat unlike any other The Undead. Three compelling... See full summary »
Michael G. Bartlett,
Mike and Carla are hard-boiled journalists, shackled by government-issued laptops prone to violent methods of censorship. They're forced into a tight squeeze when the mob corners them with an offer they can't refuse.
Peaceful, rustic Berkeley is a charming fishing community where life is sweet and the people friendly. All that is about to change. After losing her childhood farm to the bank, local beauty Rene decides to leave town and head for the big city. Suddenly, an avalanche of meteorites races through the sky, bombarding the town and bringing an otherworldly infection. Departing is going to be much more difficult than she had planned. The living dead are awakened and Rene is now caught in a nightmare of zombies hungry for human flesh. She manages to find salvation in a small isolated farm house owned by the town loony, Marion. There she is met with four other desperate survivors. Together they battle their way through a plague of walking dead and discover that there is more transpiring than just an infection. Written by
The Spierig Brothers' (Peter and Michael) "Undead" would seem even more like a cheap '50s drive-in "B"-movie if the film just billed itself as a cheap '50s drive-in "B"-movie outright instead of masquerading as a zombie-splatter flick spoof. In "Undead," we get zombies, aliens (aliens?), laughs and gory head shots that are delivered to us in such a fashion, the film plays out like a head-on collision between each genre.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've seen enough zombie flicks over the last two years to know. I've seen enough over the last two years to realize that alongside comics and video games, zombie movies represent one of the remaining avenues left for truly innovative (if not completely original) film-making. After the success of the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" and "Shaun of the Dead" last year, WE should not be surprised.
"Undead," unlike these films, did not receive a major distribution in the United States (it certainly didn't come to theaters anywhere where I live here in Virginia), and it's set in the Land Down Under. It's an exotic place, Australia, with beautiful seaside communities, friendly people, and nut-job backwoodsmen. The film takes place on the continent's fishing mecca Berkeley and as it opens, ominous meteorites have been raining down on the countryside, shooting through unsuspecting townspeople (leaving holes in them so big you can New Zealand), and turning them into flesh-hungry zombies.
Meanwhile, poor Rene (the strangely attractive, doe-eyed Felicity Mason), a recent "Catch of the Day" beauty queen, is on her way out of Berkeley when the occurrences begin. The bank has just foreclosed on her family's farm because of her deceased parents' skyrocketing debt and wants to say good-bye to this place once and for all. Well, one thing leads to another and she soon finds herself locked in the farmhouse of the town nut and survivalist Marion (Mungo McKay), who manages to save the frightened young woman from the legions of living dead lurching in the countryside. Along for the ride are Wayne (Rob Jenkins), his girlfriend(?) and Rene's beauty queen rival Sallyanne (Lisa Cunningham), and constables Harrison (Dirk Hunter) and Molly (Emma Randall).
"Undead" is boldly original in its own twisted, off-beat way. Some might say it's in bad taste. The strange thing is, they're correct. It's in "bad taste" the way the early zombie flicks of Peter Jackson were, or the "Evil Dead" films of Sam Raimi. Yet, in America, we hold those movies to some pretty high standards, though I doubt the same blessing will fall upon "Undead." The movie is indeed in bad taste and deliberately so, but unfortunately it seems to forget to also be watchable in ways to elevate itself above its bad-taste rating and into "B"-movie greatness, which it wants real bad.
Though you can't really hold that against it. There are some pretty good visual-effects zombie-kills, including a scene where young Rene takes a stick, attaches a saw blade to it, and swings away at approaching undead. Now that's creative thinking in exterminating zombies. It's also pretty funny in some spots with some wicked social commentary and jabs at American zombie movies, which suffices the plentiful gore. But unfortunately, creativity seems to go out the window with the somewhat unneeded alien invaders and their purpose in bringing the dead to life to chew on the flesh of the living. It's revealed why they are here but it is neither surprising or convincing - certainly the result of lackadaisical (or brain-dead?) writing on the part of the Spierigs.
Don't go in expecting Academy Award material performances either; if you do, you're a fool - plain & simple - you'll be as dead as the zombies if you do. Many of the characters are pretty unlikeable, as the only real ones you can relate to are Rene and Marion, the latter of whom has had an apparent run-in with the invaders before (killer fish!) and is ready this time, and Rene is pretty one-dimensional - what scream queen isn't? Still, there are plenty of scenes of Marion in action, dual-wielding handguns, Woo-style, and unloading literally hundreds of rounds into approaching hordes of zombies.
As far as "Undead" goes as a zombie movie, the Southern Hemisphere may have a winner on its hands. Horror seems to be the new "it" for aspiring filmmakers. Look at all those who started out in the genre and have graduated to greener pastures in the film-making community... well, some have. This obviously isn't the last we have heard from the Spierig Brothers, since, as the film's ending would lead you to believe, an "Undead 2" could hit American theaters in two years or so.
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