The small fishing town of Berkeley is hit by a shower of meteorites, bringing with it a deadly infection. The dead have risen to life and are seeking human flesh. While attempting to flee an unhappy past in Berkeley for life in the city, local beauty queen Rene (Felicity Mason) is trapped in this nightmare of marauding zombies. Shotgun-wielding Marion (Mungo McKay), who believes the source of the infection is alien, is regarded as a lunatic by the townsfolk, rescues Rene from the living dead and takes her to his isolated farmhouse. When four other survivors arrive, the group bands together to battle the undead.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Australian low budget genre filmmaking comes alive, as it were, in Undead, an all out, style packed zombie movie with major science fiction elements to set it well apart. The newcomer brothers Spierig exploit the power of the cinematic frame and its attendant soundscape possibilities (including the crafty score) to breathe blood-spurting life into this genre, of which Australia's cupboard is almost totally bare.
The screenplay and production of Undead is more accomplished than its performances, but zombie fans won't complain. Hell, they won't even notice, what with a three-barrel shotgun as the major weaponry to halt the slow but relentless march of zombies who feats on human brains.
As for trademark images ... there are two shots of zombies who have been cut in half by the defenders, their legs still upright and jerking, with a bloody spinal column sticking up out of the trousers. This is classic stuff, ensuring a long life for the film on the zombie cult curcuit.
The only negative I can see is the failure to satisfy expectations from the mood of the poster for that triple-barrel shotgun toting character with the hat over pulled low his eyes: the classic loner who has the guts and the guns to beat the zombies needs a more intense characterisation, or some audiences may be left disappointed with it. Not the film, just the character.
But that aside, Undead is an imaginative splurge into cross-blended genres - and it works. Meticulously made with every element carefully planned - and creatively driven by the Spierigs - Undead is a great calling card to gain the filmmakers bigger budgets and higher profile cast.
The DVD main menu invites us to start with the cheerful words, 'Begin the Carnage'. You can do this without audio commentary, or with one of two sets of commentaries, one with crew members, another with cast members.
Seven main featurettes, with some additional extras such as trailers and production notes on a secondary menu complete this proud package. The Zombies is a 10 minute quickie that includes footgae of zombie training, essential for your average movie lover, while the camera and make up tests will fascinate film students and people high on substances; the DIY dolly construction should show up on some home video tv show soon; the 12 minute animatic/final cut comparison is cool, too, in which animatics made a year before production are compared to the fionished thing.
The 35 minute Making of is perhaps the highlight, made with a horrific sensibility; it does everything you want from a horror zombi flick backgrounder, from blood splattering to chopped heads. Yes, and more.
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UNDEAD: DVD (MA)
CAST: Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall
DIRECTOR: Michael & Peter Spierig
SCRIPT: Michael & Peter Spierig
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16: 9 widescreen; DD 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: Crew commentary; cast commentary; The Making of; Toronto film fest screening coverage; The Zombies; animatic to film comparison; deleted, extended and alternate scenes; trailers
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: June 23, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.