Undead movie review, Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Emma Randall. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'Undead'
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3 stars
100 minutes | Rated: R
LIMITED: Friday, July 8, 2005
Written & directed by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Starring Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall

  • Zombies!

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    Cheap, deadpan-campy Aussie flick makes a gourmet B-movie meal by adding acid rain, aliens to zombie recipe

    By Rob Blackwelder

    How can you not love a zombie movie with a bad-ass rural beauty queen heroine, a plot twist involving aliens, and an armed-to-the-teeth militant hillbilly wearing baggy overalls and spurs on his work boots?

    Welcome to "Undead," a tongue-in-cheek Romero homage from Down Under.

    A huge cult hit in its homeland, this low-budget wonder by brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, begins with radioactive meteorites turning most denizens of dot-on-the-map Berkeley, Australia, into lumbering, flesh-munching ghouls. Its handful of survivors hole up in a ramshackle farmhouse, where the scruffy gun-nut redneck has been preparing for the worst (homemade bomb shelter, homemade triple-barrel shotgun) since he was simultaneously attacked by a zombie trout (!) and abducted by a flying saucer while fishing some months before.

    But soon they're on the run again, dodging downpours of inexplicable acid rain, and wondering just what the hell is really going on when they discover the town isn't just under siege by the walking dead, but has also been walled in by extra-terrestrials (the spiked black barriers climb into the clouds), who seem to be pulling survivors into the their ships through beams of light.

    How these elements all fit together is a little confusing (a hint that will help: the aliens aren't causing the zombie outbreak), but what the movie lacks in clarity it makes up for in gallons of campy gore (shake soda-pop, shove in zombie's mouth, fire gun -- kaplewy!), shoestring-budget moxie (the entire film is shot in moody moonlight-blue lighting) and amusingly well-developed characters.

    Beefy-curvy Felicity Mason is caustically credible as a backwater pageant winner with her over-plucked eyebrows, excessive lip-liner and bitter outlook on life. Burly, bearded Mungo McKay (love that name!) is a deadpan delight as the reticent bucolic brute who can pop pairs of semi-automatic handguns out of his overalls in slow-mo like some John Woo hero. And Dirk Hunter (OK, seriously, what's with these names?) is a hoot as a cowardly constable who pretends to take charge and makes a fool of himself.

    In addition to knowing their zombie lore well enough to tweak it with glee, the Spierigs take many dark-comedy action cues from early Sam Raimi flicks ("Evil Dead," etc.), turning their meager cinematic resources into ironic assets and embracing the cheese factor (as evidenced by the 1950s-style opening credits).

    "Undead" sure ain't art, but it sure is fun.

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