Filmed in 2003 by Aussie filmmaking brothers Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig; Undead is the low budget apocalyptic movie about zombies taking over…wait, it is a commentary on… um, no, its about aliens invading… course, it is also about a young woman trying to… Crap, I don’t know what the hell Undead is about. The basic premise is this: A meteor storm crashes into the quaint fishing town of Berkley, located somewhere in Australia. Anyone touched by the meteors are rather quickly turned into the walking dead and they spread their unliving-brain-craving ways. This is all well and good for your friendly neighborhood Geek. I love me some “undead doom from space”. Except, well, the story doesn’t stay that way. Eventually we get a new arc about aliens abducting people and taking them away in a beam of light. That is followed up by some dudes in cloaks with glowing faces, whom in time we learn are the aliens, but at first come across as these mystical demons. We also get the rarely speaking badass “Ash jr.”, Marion, who only leads our characters with the barrel of his tri-barrel shotgun and lucky fishing lure. Confused? Yea, I was too…
It looks good though.
The brothers Spierig do a good job of filming Undead. The shots are crisp and there are many interesting angles. It is clear that many directoring styles have inspired Michael and Peter, from Sam Raimi to George Romero. There is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, the genius that is Shaun of the Dead is also clearly inspired by the above two directors (among others). Unfortunately, Undead is missing the crisp dialogue and storytelling found in Shaun. The film is not without its merits though. The acting is strong, with Felicity Mason as the female lead , Rene, turning in a subtle performance and I look forward to more from her. Mungo McKay stars as the above-mentioned badass Marion. Mungo does the best he can with what he is given, but the actor never comes across as cool or menacing. He just looks too much like good country folk to make me believe he built and used the awesome looking tri-shot. I would have enjoyed Undead more had the Spierig brothers focused on one story and stuck with it. I would have been fine with the undead rising from space and watching the characters try to survive long enough to start over…Hell, I would have been happy with aliens creating the walking dead and using them as puppets. I just found myself getting lost. However, the movie is still good fun for an afternoon of pseudo-horror gore.
It took a long time for Undead to reach these Yankee shores. Was it worth the wait? Sure it was. Undead, while very far from perfect is still fun and worth a viewing. The DVD transfer is crisp and sounds good as well. The DVD has a couple of interesting behind the scenes featurette and is worth viewing. As a budding low budget filmmaker myself, I enjoy watching and learning how other filmmakers cut corners and shot their movie with limited funds. The commentary is decent, you do get the impression Undead didn’t quite turn out to be the film the Spierig brothers wanted to make. However, they are rightly proud of their work. Again, Undead isn’t perfect, but for all its faults is still better than the bubble-gum horror coming out of Hollywood right now. Give Undead a rent, get your mates together, grab some Fosters, and cheer as flesh is rendered and heads are blown off.
I give Undead 2.5 out of 5 Critical Hits.