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"They can smell us. They want to feed off us."— Marion
"Undead" (Hitting the screens in a limited release via LG
Films on July 1st 2005) 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 talent less 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 Marion 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!