MOVIE: Undead (2003)

Just when you think you’ve seen ’em all, along comes the second zombie movie in a week that really entertained me (the first being Fido, and while this movie does not even begin to compare to that one in terms of greatness, it was still a lot of fun to watch in its own way).

This low-budget Australian flick reminded me a lot of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead — not in terms of the story, but instead in terms of the special effects and the very, very intentional goofiness (when I saw Evil Dead for the first time, I knew instinctively that the people making that flick were having a hell of a good time doing it, and I got the same vibe from Undead as well. I love that vibe — it’s entertaining all by itself.). I started off watching this movie a bit worried it might try to take itself too seriously, but as soon as the gruff farm/gun guy (Marion) starting bouncing pistols off his hips, flinging them into the air, and then doing all kinds of utterly hilarious and totally ridiculous tricks with them, I knew I’d found another good-bad movie to add to the growing list of favorites.

Man, that farm boy can shoot! Now if only he’d learn how to do laundry and shave, we might have a real keeper here. . .

The plot of this flick is about as hokey as they come, though I’ll confess I thought the twist at the end was pretty good. It’s about a small fishing town named Berkeley that, one day, begins being bombarded by tiny meteors from space. Everybody hit by a meteor is transmogrified into a zombie, and anybody they kill, of course, also becomes an zombie. Soon, a small pack of survivors have hooked up at an old farm house run by Marion, the aforementioned crazy gun-lover who for weeks has been trying to convince everybody he was recently abducted by aliens. Nobody believed him — until now, mua ha ha ha ha!

The violence in this film, and there is rather a LOT of it, is absolutely hilarious. I mean, it’s splattery and silly and way, way over-the-top, just like in Evil Dead. Marion is simply a joy to behold during the (numerous!) fight scenes — somebody had a REALLY good time choreographing those, I must say. At one point, he does a flip, hooks his spurs into the wall over the door to the kitchen and starts shooting at zombies upside-down. And if that scene alone doesn’t make you yell, “Oh, HELL yes!” then you just don’t know from entertainment, my friends.

This is everything you’d expect from a low-budget horror movie, with the added bonus of a set of actors, writers, and directors who were out to have a really good time. There’s literally no attempt to make any of this movie make even a smidge of sense, and that just means we get to spend more time watching them blow the undead up and less time sitting around doing exposition. It was great. Great, great, great. If you loved Evil Dead, rent this one and tell me what you think when you’re done.

Incidentally, it took the humans in this movie about 25 minutes to realize you have to shoot a zombie in the head to kill it. I’m telling you this just in case you, too, have gotten this far along in life without knowing this — you never know when the dead will begin to rise and, in my experience, it’s best to be prepared, especially if you have limited ammunition.

In other words, aim high!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Horror

Cast: Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter

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6 Responses to “MOVIE: Undead (2003)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Of COURSE you have to shoot zombies in the head! My favorite line from a zombie movie came from that one about zombies in the ‘hood (I’ve forgotten the real name of it – a funny satire of Blaxploitation movies, about zombies in a Black neighborhood. These guys are running away from some zombies, and one says, “Shoot him in the head, like in the movies!” And, of course, it works.

  2. Dawn Says:

    I LOVED Undead. It was just so absurd. It’s no Evil Dead, but it’s awesome for what it is.

  3. megwood Says:

    Dawn, you’re totally my hero!!!

  4. Trip Says:

    At the risk of being a *tad* controversial here…I have to say I grew very impatient with this one. There was quite a bit of repetitiveness with the farmhouse scenes – maybe it was homage to Romero, but it was real clumsy. Lots of shooting over and over, zombies were way too slow, and the gratuitousness of the gore was beneath what the scene should have called for. That police sergeant couldn’t have died quick enough for me, too.

    Plus, I got real annoyed with the main heroine…I guess she read the script and could only come up with “constant bewilderment” as her motivation. Meg – remember when Eric Thal’s got his pistol out in Julie Warner’s apartment in Puppet Masters, when he figures out that her naughty come-ons aren’t exactly well-intended? He’s got his mouth contorted into an absurd “O” shape…well, same thing here – this chick had the same confused expression on her face the whole time. By the time she finally got her hands on some guns, I was already past the “Meh” stage.

    There were no explanations as to why the fisher dude had a tricked out high-tech bomb shelter, why the prom queens had a stick up their butts about each other, and the zombie conventions were broken for no good reason. Why were the townspeople rendered into zombies, anyway? What was the acid rain for?

    Also, if you’re gonna have 3 shotguns taped together in formation, that doesn’t mean you have to use the spine-in-pants FX more than once. It’s all about headshots, people! Raimi would never have done that.

    I really didn’t get the whole alien-cleansing twist, either. WTF? For a race of spacefaring aliens, they sure were retarded if they thought they were doing good, or at least, their motivations were never explained.

    Here’s what I did like – the visual of the hundreds of “cleansed” villagers floating over the town with arms askew – way creepy and cool, reminded me of “Cell”, the King novel. The face-off effect with “Chip” Chippington and the shovel was innovative as well.

    From the start, I was definitely reminded of Evil Dead – but also Dead Alive. I think this movie made a mistake in taking the comedy road instead of going straight-up horror with it. As a result, there was a Phantasm effect where everything was not really scary and therefore there was less impact.

    I think I’ll purify myself now with some 28 Days Later, that’s the stuff right there. Mmmmm, rage virus…

  5. megwood Says:

    Gosh, yeah, I totally disagree with your finale there — if they’d tried to go straight-up horror with this movie it would’ve been completely unwatchable, in my opinion. For all the reasons you just cited! Because they were clearly just out to be goofballs having a good time, though, it made something I would’ve never managed to sit through otherwise completely entertaining for me.

    I hear you on the 28 Days Later thing, though — that might be what I need today myself (I’m currently spending my fourth day in a row lying on the couch all day with the flu. Talk about frakkin’ RAGE virus: this flu is making me very, very cranky!)

  6. Alistair Says:

    Cool site,

    It’s good to see blogs with useful/entertaining content. I have a DVD website. Why not take a look some time?

    It covers pretty much all DVD categories and features daily entertainment news updates too.

    Region free DVDs (ie you can play them in any country) are available.

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