Undead (2003)

undead_2003_posterUndead is an Australian Action/Horror/Comedy Written and Directed by the Spierig brothers, who would later go on to make Daybreakers.  Completely funded by the directors and their families, I feel this film gets a bad rap. Sure the film is completely bananas, but that just adds into its charm. Roger Ebert claimed that “Undead is the kind of movie that would be so bad it’s good, except it’s not bad enough to be good enough.” I have to disagree, this film is plenty bad enough to be good.

Undead opens with Rene (Felicity Mason) the winner of the local beauty pageant leaving her home town of Berk with a sleazy agent after losing the family farm to the bank. But the town is struck by meteors, turning the townsfolk into zombies pretty much just ruining that plan. Rene and the agent stop at the site of an accident where the two encounter their first zombies. Rene is rescued by local crazy man Marion (Mungo McKay) after her agent is killed and follows him back to his home along the way encountering a strange acid rain. Marion claims to have been abducted by aliens after being attacked by crazy fish months prior. Other survivors Wayne (Rob Jenkins) and Sallyanne (Lisa Cunningham) along with an elderly woman Aggie come across the accident. Aggie is quickly killed, causing Wayne and Sallyanne flee into the woods finding their way to Marions home. Shortly after that a pair of police officers Harrison (Dirk Hunter) and Molly (Emma Randall) join the group. The house is quickly laid to siege and Marion leads the group to a shelter in his basement built as a precaution, but while he had stocked the guns he had yet to stock the food and water. The group is eventually forced out due to lack of supplies and Sallyanne thinking she’s going into labor. The group loads up into Marions van and try to head out of the town. But the group runs into a literal wall surrounding the town which Marion blames on the aliens like everything else. But one after another the group members die or are sucked up into the clouds leaving just Rene. She soon encounters a group of hooded aliens that spray her with rain like chemical curing her the disease. The zombie plague adverted the aliens leave unaware they missed Wayne…

The washed out sepia tone the movie is filmed in bothers me. While it adds an interesting feel like that of a comic book or graphic novel gets a bit tiresome really fast. I normally enjoy this effect as I’m a big fan of both Big Fish and O’ Brother Where Art Thou that use this same gimmick to much greater effect. While it has it’s charm here, I just don’t feel it.

The black humor really has some great moments. With the early scene of the old lady being struck by a meteor in the background to rise as a zombie being a stand out moment. It’s a scene I can’t help but laugh at. It’s really these little moments that make this movie worth watching.

This film is steeped in camp. So if you like your campy goodness nice and thick, then this might just be a film for you. All of the acting is over the top, with some actors mostly screaming and cursing. I would say the acting is bad, but with no one doing a particularly bad job, except of Dirk Hunter (As Officer Harrison he gets on my nerves during every viewing and I would recommend this film more often were it not for his character.). So when everyone’s bad its hard to single anyone out of the crowd.

Final thoughts, well first I need to say I do really like this movie. It great for its flaws and it’s the films flaws that make it what it is. This movie was shot on a very low budget, so low that most of the scenes were done in one to two takes. I like that, I like to think that it means that those involved, it was a labor of love. I can’t say that about the only other Spierig brothers film I’ve seen, Daybreakers. That was a paycheck movie and it shows. Some of the things film does really get to me, some I stated, the other being McKay feeling like a poor Bruce Campbell substitute. He doe’s a good job, far better than I could, he just felt off in his role to me. So although I do enjoy watching this movie on a near yearly basis it’s not what I would call good, just enjoyable, Undead gets 7/10.


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