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8 November 2011

Undead (2002)

Working on the basis that every country in the world is capable of producing at least one top zombie film, I felt certain that I might have found the Australian entry when I spotted "Undead".

Rene has a devilishly cunning idea
Undead, 2002 Lion Gate Films

The cover art alone promises so much with its picture of a bearded cowboy-cum-tramp sporting a tri-shotgun. Yep, you heard me right... tri-shotgun! That's three shotguns in one! Wow! What on Earth can this film be all about?

The story starts off with a meteor shower streaking across the skies above Berkeley Australia. Those of the population unlucky enough to be hit by the falling rocks... and there are a lot of them... are instantly turned into zombies. Hooray!

Q: What do you call a zombie with a spade in its head?
A: Doug
Undead, 2002 Lion Gate Films

The remaining survivors must bandy together to fight off the hordes of undead. At first their only worry is to avoid the zombies, but later it becomes clear that the zombie infection is spreading in ways other than just bites. Oh dear!

So far so good. But things aren't that straight-forward. How does burning rain sound or alien abduction? It gets weirder and weirder. I think that the general idea of the film is to baffle the watcher right until the end where things are revealed and you're meant to feel satisfied.

I really wanted to enjoy this film.

I tried so hard...

Marion and his famous tri-shotgun
Undead, 2002 Lion Gate Films

I know you won't believe me, but I did get the ending. My problem is that although I know what happened, I'm at a loss as to explain why. I'm not feeling very satisfied.

My verdict is that Undead really wants to be The Evil Dead 2. It tries hard to mix humour, gore and horror, but somehow the Spierig Brothers don't quite manage to pull it off. Don't get me wrong, the film isn't a complete failure; There are some great moments in here. Most of them involve throwing and catching guns in interesting ways. But it doesn't all come together as cleanly as it should. You need a little bit more than a few inspired gun moments to make a great film.

Mungo McKay reveals hidden talent
Undead, 2002 Lion Gate Films

I wasn't impressed with the acting. It all felt a bit forced. The fantastically named Mungo McKay stars as the eccentric Marion (he of tri-shotgun fame). Unfortunately his camera presence is as long and thin as his beard. It's obvious that he's no Bruce Campbell, which is unfortunate, because that's exactly what this film needed.

Felicity Mason has her moments as Rene the zombie-chopper-upper. She's the best of the bunch by a country mile. While I felt that her performance grew throughout the film, it didn't grow fast enough to rescue it.

The rest of the cast were average at best. I found it hard to stomach the endless hysterical shouting at the start. I know that it is done in the name of comedy, but that joke was old within the first minute.

Alien abduction
Undead, 2002 Lion Gate Films

If I was to draw comparisons with other films I would say that Undead is most like Dreamcatcher (released about the same time). There are similarities in style and content, but Undead doesn't have the budget to compete... and somehow the story doesn't hang together as well.

To sum up: Undead is a modern B Movie, with all the connotations that this might have.

On the Triple-B I'm going to upgrade my tri-shotgun to the very latest quad-shotgun. I find the 4 shotgun combination offers far better scope for carnage. Borrow this film... but don't expect too much.

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