was probably the most longed for, most sought after, most eagerly
anticipated zombie movie on the face of the earth after The Grand
Old Man, George Romero’s, “Land Of the Dead” pretty
much flopped at the box office.
Where WERE you people?? Romero’s first zombie movie in fifteen
years and you stayed at home. Honestly.
Recriminations aside, there’s a reason everybody and his mother
wanted a shot at this one. Lions Gate ran an aggressive program
of promotions and trailers aplenty on just about everything they
put out for the two years prior to “Undead’s”
wide release on DVD.
That and Peter “Brain Dead” Jackson gave it a truly
killer plug, elevating “Undead” to the land of the cult
classic faster than Paris Hilton on crystal meth. And I don’t
mind telling you, that’s fast.
So what we have here is the story of a small sleepy town that is
suddenly attacked by zombies due to something that was going on
out in the middle of space. A nice big hunk of space rock carrying
zombie juice of some kind (probably radiation--zombie movies run
on radiation the way Meg Ryan movies run on cuteness and probably
animal sacrifice.) slams into the small town of Berkeley one bright
Berkeley is, for some strange reason, Australian--at least it sounds
Australian. You never heard "No worries, mate" so many
times in one movie.
And man, does it ever start out with a bang! Not ten minutes in,
and we get people getting chunks of space rock blasted through them,
and a guy gets his head taken off in a scene so obviously CG and
yet so solidly done that it's almost impossible, even with frame
advance, to tell that it's been faked. Really, you can't--try frame
advance at the seven minute forty seven second mark. The head actually
blurs out at the moment it separates from the neck, making conclusive
Even better is the comedic moments implanted into "Undead",
and there are plenty of them. Naturally I won't pin them all down,
but there are a great walloping lot of them.
Plus, there are homages aplenty--check out the shotgun around the
thirteen minute mark. If you aren't at least vaguely reminded of
the quad-barrelled death bringer from "Phantasm 2" then
you haven't been paying close enough attention. The plotline at
least vaguely resembles the original "Night of the Living Dead".
And when Tony Timpone compared this to "Dead Alive", he
wasn't making idle chit-chat...there are plenty of sequences that
remind one of that great comical zombie movie. Plus, there's even
a nice handful of "Evil Dead" franchise homages in the
way the zombies move.
The really amazing thing about "Undead", and I mentioned
this previously (as it turns out it holds true for most of the movie),
is that the effects are positively seamless. No matter what--whether
someone's getting a head taken off or their entire sternum cut in
two by a Club (the ACTUAL Club, folks--the one you put on the steering
wheel) it is fantastically hard to spot the wires. In fact, in many
cases, you can only just distinguish that they did SOMETHING. Frequently
it's hard to tell just what it was they did, but you know they did
something. And as far as I'm concerned, that's the mark of positively
fantastic special effects work.
But I have to ask one rhetorical question I'm sure everyone will
pose before the end--how many guns are in that man's overalls?
The ending is an unbelievable combination of spectacular and baffling.
When you see it you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Plus,
there's an incredible twist ending that you wouldn't believe if
I told you about it.
The special features include a behind the scenes featurette, extended
and deleted scenes, artwork and design sketches, three different
trailers for "Undead", and in a move that'll surprise
most horror mavens, a preview of "Saw II."
All in all, there's a damn good reason everybody's been looking
forward to "Undead" since 2003. It's fantastic. That's
why, and that's really all you need to know.
GRADE: 4 stars ****
The Speirig Brothers
The Speirig Brothers