Thursday, April 20, 2006


Title: Undead (2003)
Dir: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig
Tagline: Crazy has come to town for a visit.
Rating: ** out of 5 stars

It really really bugs me that some people praise this movie for being up-to-par or even remotely comparable to the works of Raimi, Jackson, or Romero. It definitely does not come close to touching those films, and all it does is half-assedly rip off their best assets.

Undead had such potential, too! Just look at that poster! I thought it would combine the infection-hysteria of 28 Days Later with the zombie-apocolypticism of Romero. Well, I think it was trying to, but ultimately just muddled up the genre and threw in some ridiculous attempts at gore. This movie actually makes Evil Aliens look brilliant (see previous review).

Here is the plot: Meteorites start hitting a small fishing town in the U.K., turning the residents into "zombies" that attack, kill, eat brains - you know the drill. A former beauty queen joins up with a fisherman, two cops, and a young couple to fight for survival. They discover a connection between the zombies, "acid" rain, a giant wall around the town, and some alien spaceships that keep beaming up people. What this ultimately adds up to is a whole lot of cinematic overkill.

So of course, after all the zombie slaughtering, there is a big twist ending (seems no one makes horror movies without them anymore). The ending did clarify things for me somewhat, and I admit, it was an idea with real potential. It probably should've been reserved for a more serious thriller, like what 28 Days Later was.

Instead, Undead's feeble attempts to pay homage to Peter Jackson fell flat. Every ounce of gore was unoriginal, and made even worse by the CGI. Every damn thing in this movie was ripped off of something else, and not even ripped off well! Cutting up zombies with shoptools, seen it. Watching blood splatter all over the walls, seen it. And so on and so forth. It also lifts many-a technique from Evil Dead, including the shot where it zooms in on a zombie and an enormous gust of wind blows their hair back. Call it an homage if you want; I call it laziness.

The dialogue sucks, save the occasionally funny line ("When I was a kid, we respected our parents, we didn't fucking eat them!"). The acting? MIND-NUMBING. The directing was weak, and there were many superfluous moments. For instance, at one moment the fisherman stops and realizes he must "aim for the head". He doesn't yell this out while firing, no, he stops and stares at a corpse while having the epiphany, taking up 1-2 extra minutes of film. Shooting a zombie in the head isn't exactly a novel concept, so was it really worth it to show all that? No. There was also a zombie-fish scene that was shown, in full, twice. It's completely redundant and annoyed the crap out of me.

The worst part of all is the Transporter-like action in this movie. The fisherman character randomly leaps off of walls and does backflips and shit. It isn't tongue-in-cheek, it's stupid. Even the most outrageous horror movies can only stretch logic so far.

I really can't explain why I love someone smashing a head with their bare hands in Riki-Oh but hate someone decapitating a zombie with a steering wheel Club in Undead. I guess the difference lies in how seriously a film takes itself. The absurdity this movie aims for just doesn't suit it, and it offers nothing to call its own.

Furthermore, the action scenes are repetitive - shootout after shootout after shootout. An old house is really not that different from an old tackleshop. Do something new!

Like I said, the final twist had some potential, but they mucked it up. I also liked the VERY end, where we FINALLY get to see the image on the poster. I wish they had started the movie at that point. Ah well.


Rick said...

I think I enjoyed this one a little more than you did, but I also think I watched this while in the process of writing my paper on Kurosawa and was really in the need of some crap to rot my brain... haha.