Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Undead - review

2003 (Australia)

Contains spoilers.

Now I first watched this six months ago at a time I hadn't the time to pen my thoughts. Here we are now with the time and inclination to do just that and I can't remember a single thing about it. I think that in itself probably says quite a lot.

It's Berkeley, a small town in Australia and the summer of 2002. Local beauty pageant winner René (Felicity Mason) is hitching a lift away after losing her late parents farm to the bank after defaulting on her payments, when they are forced to stop as the road is closed. Obviously a nod to Night of the Living Dead, the cause of road closure accident was a meteorite shower which has the added side effect of turning the citizens of the town into, duh duh duh! You guessed it undead killers.

First off, it's safe to say it's a very silly film with tongue firmly in cheek though out, and obviously takes a lot of influence from zombie spoofs such as Dead Alive (Braindead) and The Return of the Living Dead. The zombies, and their victims for that matter, are comical blood-sponges with the ability to be sliced, smashed, crushed and dismembered with ease and imagination, and the whole premise of aliens, meteorites, acid rain, abductions is all as daft as it sounds.

After escaping her first zombie encounter René finds herself holed up with local hero, bad-ass, whack-job, poor shooting Marion (Mungo McKay) who also happens to be the only guy that seems to know exactly what's going on. Joined at the cabin and fallout shelter by an ensemble of characters including the hilarious foul mouthed police chief Harrison (Dirk Hunter), they soon find themselves under siege without food and water enjoying the same over the top conflict we've come to expect when a group of disparate survivors are forced together in an extremely tense situation.

The zombies are your traditional brain eating, shambling critters we've come to cherish and like many of its less serious contemporaries they regularly groan exactly what they're after; Brrraaaiiiiinnnnsssss. They're capable of taking some pretty heavy punishment and are only put down for good with the a good old heavy trauma to the head which our band of heroes seems incapable of ever doing early on.

It really can't be overstated just how eighties the film feels. The music, the special effects, the hammy characters all come together with the ridiculous story to create something truly daft but at least its intentional. The worst zombie films are those that achieve this effect whilst trying to be earnest and serious but despite how bad the film is it's never really quite bad enough; which might sound strange. 

There's also the change of pace with thirty minutes left on the clock, almost forgetting that it was a zombie farce with a change of style, scale and even seriousness as if Spielberg with his Close Encounters hat on had suddenly decided to take over. It's as if they suddenly realised they had a hundred times the budget and needed to spend it, or they didn't like the film they were making so decided to shoot and append another. It's all rather odd, not bad per-se but not what I was expecting, at all; oh and this all drags on way too long.

So, all in all it wasn't as bad as I'd insinuated in my opening line. It's problems come from the fact it neither does anything particularly new or noteworthy and it goes a bit too off tangent with a third to go. It is however camp, gory, over the top and fun on occasion; I did like the spade in head guy, but it's easily beaten on all these fronts by other more notable efforts, especially as already stated, Jackson's Dead Alive. So there you go, as I've said, not bad, not good; easily forgettable, 5/10.



  1. I dig this movie. Silly, but I liked the characters and the story... The Spierig Brothers went on to "Daybreakers" after this, which was WAY more high budget...

    1. Yeah, I did wonder whether I was being a bit overly critical reading others thoughts after I'd reviewed it, and I loved Daybreakers...