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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.88%
Just Average: 14.06%
Pretty Crappy: 23.44%
Sucks: 6.25%

5 reviews, 34 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Aww, Ma--Not Red Meat Again!"
2 stars

If the new Australian zombie comedy “Undead” has come out in America a couple of years ago (as it did in its native country), I suspect that I might have enjoyed it as an amusing riff on the genre that demonstrated little creativity on the part of the filmmakers but a lot of energy and enthusiasm. However, it is only being released here now at a time when viewers have been literally overrun with such items as the “Resident Evil” films, “28 Days Later” (technically not a zombie film, I know, but close enough for the purposes of this discussion), “Versus,” the “Dawn of the Dead” remake, “Shaun of the Dead” and, most recently, George Romero’s brilliant “Land of the Dead” and it can’t help but pale in comparison to them. Those films all managed to find intriguing spins on familiar material but “Undead,” like many of its shuffling-corpse creations, is simply content to feed off of its predecessors instead of bringing anything new to the table.

In Berkeley. one of those quirky little Australian towns that seems to exist only in quirky little Australian movies, a perfectly bucolic morning is interrupted by the arrival of a meteor shower–one so violent that when the meteors hits people, they punch holes right through them so that we can get a camera shot framed by the bloody orifice. If that wasn’t bad enough, those killed by the meteors display an alarming tendency to immediately rise from the dead and become flesh-eating zombies intent on feeding on their neighbors. But wait, there’s more–the good people of Berkeley will also find themselves up against acid rain, an enormous spiked wall that cuts the town off from the rest of the world and even a visit from aliens who begin beaming people up at random and leave them hanging in the sky. It should give you an idea of how ramshackle the plot of “Undead” is when I tell you that I am still not entirely certain whether all of these events are linked to each other or if the town is just experiencing an extraordinarily bad run of luck.

As is typical for the genre, the film follows a small group of people as they struggle to keep alive while being picked off one by one. This time, our survivors include Berkeley’s Catch of the Day beauty queen (who was actually on her way out of town after the foreclosure of the family farm), the former queen who resents the usurper for taking her prize from her (although her about-to-drop pregnancy might have had something to do with it), the deposed queen’s goofy pilot boyfriend, a pair of idiotic cops and Marion, a hard-bitten survivalist who first noticed the danger when he was attacked by a zombie fish. As a leader, Marion leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, he recognizes the threat, is heavily armed and has constructed any number of zombie-killing instruments, the most effective being a triple-barreled shotgun. On the other hand, he continues to fire into the chests of the undead even after he discovers that only a head shot will stop them for good. Worse, he brings everyone down to his heavily fortified bomb shelter for protection and only then mentions to the group that no, he never quite got around to stocking it with food or water.

In a way, this reflects the basic problem with “Undead” as a whole–it focuses so intently on finding new ways to splatter bodies that it ignores the fundamentals of storytelling that might have allowed it to become a truly effective film. Films like Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive” (a clear inspiration for this film, along with the Romero films, “Day of the Triffids” and any other number of titles) or last year’s “Shaun of the Dead”) mixed zombies and comedy as well but they took the time to create funny and engaging characters and situations and then plunged them into “Living Dead” territory. Here, the Spierig Brothers, making their filmmaking debuts, are so keen to get to the bloodshed that they give us only a group of ciphers that have scarcely more personality than the creatures they are battling. The other key problem is that despite the essential silliness of the material, the monsters in “Dead Alive” or “Shaun of the Dead”were treated relatively seriously and posed a genuine threat. Here, they are treated solely as objects of derision and they inspire absolutely no fear, thereby rendering the “horror” portion of this so-called “horror-comedy” somewhat moot.

As a low-budget calling-card for the Spierig Brothers (who essentially made the film by themselves), “Undead” is slick enough and demonstrates that they have the technical skills to make a good movie at some point down the line. However, outside of the very occasional bit of genuine wit or inspiration (I like a moment when the group confronts the gigantic wall and one wonders how the town council can put that together overnight while it takes him forever to get a pothole filled), this effort shows that while they are good at aping heroes like Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson, two directors whose early experiments in gory horror are still revered today, they don’t quite have anything of their own to offer as of yet.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7803&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/09/05 16:49:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Horror Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Horror Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/19/07 Ozma What a hoot !!! 4 stars
5/09/06 sweetgrrl1972 Very creative and super funny 4 stars
12/11/05 gray could have been better 3 stars
11/16/05 Indrid Cold Moderately entertaining, with an original idea or two. 3 stars
11/09/05 ShadowFace5 No hot chicks are devoured by zombies. Complete rubbis actually. 1 stars
11/04/05 malcolm half of it was pretty good, but then got stupid. had some good jokes 2 stars
10/12/05 Johnny Cake Not great, but still a total blast...WAY better than SHAUN OF THE OVERRATED DEAD. 4 stars
7/27/05 Evil One Not scary, not funny, not good. Bloody awful. 1 stars
7/10/05 âàïâàï âàïâàï 3 stars
6/10/05 C Hernandez Godawful. I don't get what everyone sees in it. 1 stars
9/14/04 Nik Mladenovic Bloddy Awesome 5 stars
8/06/04 Jeremy Kick ass funny! 5 stars
7/25/04 Pure RAGE... UNDEAD 2: DEADER! 5 stars
7/19/04 SLEDDOG_17 Absolutely awesome Zombie made. Can't wait for the sequel--hope it includes Felicity Mason. 5 stars
7/12/04 "Meth Lab" for Dummies WAY BETTER THAN, "Resident Evil" & "Evil Dead"! NEEDS A REMAKE THOGUH...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/29/04 Ryan the movie is good.. hope next tym i could see the uncut of it. 5 stars
3/02/04 travers lee brillent 5 stars
2/09/04 Roberto D'Onofrio Innovative, great for the money they had 4 stars
10/24/03 Jean-Philippe Ruest Kitch at it's best! Reminds me of Braindead... 5 stars
10/16/03 Hellstrom Totally badass and wounderfully original 5 stars
10/08/03 Jonathan Holmes Good stuff. 4 stars
9/24/03 Danno the Movie Manno Why would the aliens clean GRASSHOPPERS before humans?? 2 stars
9/19/03 Zombie hunter Not as good as Romero's zombie films, but on par with Braindead. worth a look 4 fans 4 stars
9/17/03 Kieran Shanley Saw the film last night - have to say it was brilliant ! B grade black humor + horror = 5* 5 stars
9/16/03 Undead overrated If it hadn't been made locally, it would be a stinking pile of poo. It still is. 2 stars
9/11/03 Mr Creosote B-grade genius 5 stars
8/12/03 scott Way cool! 4 stars
8/01/03 Dickhead debate moderator This is a great film and just to note that I'm truly disturbed at the low (6.6?)imdb score 5 stars
7/26/03 Francoise you ARE a dickhead if you see this "movie" 1 stars
7/25/03 izy i read the review, and take this from it, altered: "you’d be a dickhead not to see Undead " 4 stars
7/07/03 Hayley Brilliant - A must for all fans of the genre 5 stars
6/18/03 Matt Absolutely kick ass! You MUST see this on the big screen! 5 stars
6/16/03 Jeff fantastic black comedy.. instant cult clasic 5 stars
6/16/03 Tyrone Noonan Fantastic 5 stars
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  01-Jul-2005 (R)
  DVD: 11-Oct-2005



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