By Shawn McKenzie 07/15/2005
I actually got to the theater ten minutes late for this 100-minute long Australian import zombie movie Undead, but in the remaining 90 minutes that I saw, I was blown away by how entertained I was. I am currently trying to tell everyone I know to go and see this cool little film.
I did a lot of research to fill in the gap from the unseen first ten minutes, so I believe that this is an accurate synopsis. Rene Chaplin (Felicity Mason) is a girl from a fishing town called Berkeley, Queensland in Australia, who seems like she would have it all. She is a beautiful girl who has won the “Miss 2002 Catch of the Day” crown in her local town beauty pageant, but after the bank manager, Mervin “Chip” Chipperson (Noel Sheridan), forecloses the loan on her family farm following the death of her parents, she decides to leave town and stay with her grandmother in the city. She had only entered the beauty pageant to use the cash prize for payments on the loan, but it wasn’t enough. A sleazy agent (Steve Greig) offers Rene a ride to the city and a job when she gets there, but on their way out of town, a meteor shower rains down on the town, infecting everyone around. Suddenly, the dead begin to rise and feed on the flesh of the living. A car accident blocks their way out of town, and when the agent goes over to investigate the crash, a zombie attacks and kills him. The agent then comes back as a zombie himself and almost gets Rene, but she is rescued by a fisherman and local gun salesman named Marion (Mungo McKay), who owns Marion’s World of Weapons and is considered the town’s local loon. He carries around a triple-barrel shotgun and an endless supply of guns that seem to come from out of nowhere and is on his person at all times. Apparently, he was attacked by some zombie fish a few months ago while fishing on the lake and was abducted by aliens right after that, but no one believes him. His wife (Kristijana Maric) left him, but he came back from his stay with the aliens with the knowledge and skills on how to defeat them. He believes that the aliens are preparing for an assault on humankind. Rene follows Marion to his remote farmhouse to wait out the zombie attack. She notices some bugs being carried up into the sky by beams of light in the same fashion that Marion had been abducted. Meanwhile, a local charter pilot named Wayne Whipple (Rob Jenkins) is heading out of town with his aunt Aggie (Gaynor Wensley) and his pregnant girlfriend Sallyanne McGill (Lisa Cunningham.) Aggie loses her head…literally…by a young zombie girl (Georgia Potter-Cowie), but they too make it to Marion’s farmhouse, followed closely by Sheriff Harrison (Dirk Hunter) and his timid new asthmatic partner, Constable Molly Ford (Emma Randall), who is on her first day on the job. Everyone acts extremely freaked out, except for Marion. Sallyanne is surprised to see Rene, because the pregnant girl was runner-up in the beauty pageant (she had been the reigning queen for many years), and was bitter and angry when Rene won. Marion leads them down to the cellar, and then into a bunker below the cellar, to wait out the zombies, despite Harrison’s delusion that he is in charge. A lack of supplies, like ammo for the guns and water to drink and pour all over themselves (the meteor showers were followed by some acid rain), force them to have to get out of the house and try to make it out of town. They somehow make it to the town’s border, but a huge wall that was constructed by the aliens blocks them. From that point on, they need to fight back against the zombies and the aliens to survive.
Twin brothers Michael and Peter Spierig wrote, directed, produced, and edited the movie themselves (they also created the visual effects, while Peter created the sound effects.) It took them two and a half years to make the movie, it cost them around one million Australian dollars (about $760,000 in U.S. dollars) of their own money, and it was released in Australia in 2003 originally. For such a low budget movie, I was amazed to see such a talented cast, great dialogue, and cool special effects. If it weren’t for an annoying blue tint throughout the movie, it would be perfect.
The cast of unknowns (in America at least) could have some bright futures ahead of them if this movie is successful. McKay channels Clint Eastwood from his ‘60s and ‘70s Westerns to play a cool loner with amazing zombie killing skills. He also looks cool doing stunts (though his stunt double is a guy named Gulliver Page.) One scene shows Marion somersaulting over a zombie above a door entrance, planting his spurs into the wall, and shooting some zombies upside-down…in a move that you just have to see! Mason holds her own in the shooting and fighting realm, and fortunately doesn’t become a romantic interest to Marion. The only other cast member who stands out is Hunter, whose foul-mouthed character gets to say some of the best lines in the movie (I’ll f***in’ finish you off faster than a f***in’ birthday cake at a fat chick’s f***in’ birthday party!)
Undead is a much more enjoyable movie than this year’s Land of the Dead, partly because it has more humor, sweeter special effects, and isn’t as preachy with its message. It is more in the vein of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. I want all horror and zombie movie fans to check it out, because I want the movie to be a big hit. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a single ad on TV for it, and locally here in Denver, it is showing at only one theater. If I wasn’t a critic, I wouldn’t have even known of its existence. If you do happen to find a theater showing it, please check it out. While I have a feeling that it won’t make a lot of money at the box office, I bet word of mouth will make it a huge cult DVD to be enjoyed by fanboys all around.
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