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Undead (2003)
 
   
 Directed by: The Spierig Brothers
 Starring: Felicity Mason/Renee
Mungo McKay/Marion
Rob Jenkins/Wayne
Lisa Cunningham/Sallyanne 
     
RATING

PLOT-CRUNCH:


Body parts hit the fan in the small Aussie fishing town of Berkeley when falling meteors turn its inhabitants into flesh-craving zombies. It’s up to a beauty queen (Mason), a Clint Eastwood wannabee (McKay), a couple and two officers of the law to cleanse the planet.
  

THE LOWDOWN:


"They can smell us. They want to feed off us." Marion

"Undead" is a genre fanboy’s red wet dream come true, probably because it was made by fanboys itself. Written, produced, edited and directed by Peter and Michael Spierig, "Undead" is an ambitious and obvious labor of love with affection for the horror genre oozing out of its every pore.

The first half or so of this zany trip screamed George Romero and Peter Jackson at me while sprinkling pinches of Sergio Leone and Sam Raimi my way. "Night of the Living Dead", "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead" were heavily nodded throughout via the zombies’ demeanor and some of the events at hand. Spaghetti Western influences also surfaced in respect to the shady fisherman (MacKay) with a raspy voice and a “Man with no name” attitude. Exciting and heavily stylized shootouts exploded on-screen and had me smiling like “Vincent” giving a foot massage. And gore galore painted the canvas when it came to the messy damage those poor zombies had to suffer at the hands of the fierce humans. A note on the grub, if I may: Not since “Dead Alive” have I seen a living dead flick lay the BBQ sauce this thick on its uncooked meat. It was so touching to see guts tumble out of one’s belly, heads getting lopped off and bodies getting sliced in half again. Is that a tear in my eye-socket? Yes, it is! A tear of joy my friends…OF JOY.

Now through that first half, the flick played it fairly straight-up, hold-the-ice zombie jive while at the same time injecting “mysterious” elements into its narrative. I was fully engulfed by the game this ditty was playing and knew well enough that there was more to this tale than the walking dead S-Smart shopping for chow. I was right. The second half of "Undead" slyly switched to a more Sci-Fi channel type of dial. Call me silly or better yet, a talentless buffoon, but I actually felt shades of "The Abyss" and Spielberg during the second half. Not wanting to spoil it for you guys, I’ll just say that "Undead" brings a unique perspective to the affair by going rampant with the “out there” concepts (the plane ride…wow) while threading on territory not often explored within the zombie sub-genre. Like a drunken “babe hound” accidentally bringing a transvestite home, I was totally taken aback by what unrolled before my eyes. As the flamboyant denouement emptied its bag of tricks, I genuinely felt a sense of wonder. It must be said that taking into account the small budget and the means the brothers had, the special effects and the effective CGI found here were simply astounding. Cheers for that!

I did have some qualms with the film though. For one, the comic relief character (Harrison played by Dirk Hunter) didn’t do it for me. His role was akin to a squealing piglet. The man was beyond grating and yes, thoughts of chainsaws buzzing on his skull did come up in my noggin. To top that off, I couldn’t understand a word he was yelping half of the time (the Aussie accent left me dumbfounded). I’m sure I missed out on many clever lines. I also didn’t groove on the character’s incessant bickering and how they kept turning on each other at the drop of a dead hooker. That pointing guns and bossing each other around shite got old real fast and didn’t make for an endearing dynamic. The casting of the “badass” triple shotgun weaving Mason also could’ve been more on target. Although Mungo McKay gave an admirable show, I had trouble buying him as a tough guy. The casting took away from the character’s full potential, in my opinion. Lastly, a lot of people have told me that this movie was a side-splitting pill, capturing Peter Jackson’s type of black gory humor. Alas, apart from a couple of gags (loved the fish thing) and lines, I didn’t laugh.

But overall, "Undead" was quite a trick and a treat. With its brave script and veteran-like acting backing its goodies up, it highly entertained me the whole way with seldom a dull moment at hand. Slap a clip in that firearm mate, open up a Foster's and SPRAY AWAY! DIE ZOMBIES DIE!
 
    

ACTING:


Felicity Mason (Renee) carried the flick like a sexy champ. She had shades of Sigourney Weaver going for her and I predict a strong acting career ahead of her. Mungo McKay (Marion) handled his part well, but I didn’t think he was the perfect type for the part. Rob Jenkins (Wayne) tackled his role with strong acting chops in tow. Lisa Cunningham (Sallyanne) did what she had to do well. Dirk Hunter (Harrison) must have done a good job, he played an annoying cop and yes, he mucho rubbed me the wrong way. Emma Randall (Molly) did it low-key and it worked.
 

GORE:

 
We get lots of splatter in this sucker with a meteor going through one’s chest, bodies ripped in half, a slew of beheadings, a shovel in the head, a face ripped off, severed arms, knives in the head, guts tumbling out and bullet hits galore. YUMMY!
   

T & A:


Felicity Mason (Renee) stripped down to her bra and undies and got a standing “O” for that. The ladies got Rob Jenkins (Wayne) in his underwear and Mungo Mckay’s (Marion) white naked ass!
   

DIRECTING:


The Spierig brothers double-dipped this one in the style jar with kool shots up the kazoo, a strong use of slow motion, snazzy quick cuts and a constant use of blue filters that contributed to the film’s eerie feel. Bang on!
   

SOUNDTRACK:


The score by Cliff Bradley worked well in adapting to the many tones of the film. We also get a rock song and a techno tune on the radio.
   

BOTTOM LINE:


Relatively minor quibbles aside, "Undead" was a full meal that train-wrecked zombie carnage, kinetic style and creative ideas my way. Tag to that, its 50s invasion, zombie and Spaghetti Western feel and you get an indie power house that I’m proud to call “honey bunny”. This one has “Cult Classic” and “Fun Freaking Times” written all over it. BRING ON UNDEAD PART 2!
 

BULL'S EYE:


All of the special effects were done by the Spierigs themselves on laptops.

Over 600 liters of fake plasma was used during filming.

Visit the official UNDEAD website here

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The Way The Arrow Points...

   
 I’d BUTCHER my family to see this again
 HANG me but I dug it a lot
 An ok way to KILL two hours
 Just sling an ARROW in my head and let me die in peace

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