Starring: Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham. Rated R.
Two years after its
home-country release, Undead, the
brainchild of Australian twins Peter and Michael Spierig, has limped into
American theaters like so many cannibalistic corpses stumbling dazedly after a
fresh victim. The timing couldn’t be worse. Just days after George A. Romero
returned to the zombie genre with Land of the Dead, a superlative scarefest with enough bite to
distinguish it from the average geek show, out crawls this sprawling mess, a
no-budget mix of horror, comedy and sci-fi that never quite adds up.
story is ridiculous, but then, no tale of
flesh-eating ghouls would be complete without some absurd rationalization. A
meteorite shower rains down on the quiet village of Berkeley, Australia,
leaving the water supply contaminated with a mysterious toxin that transforms
sedate residents into bloodthirsty monsters. Those who survive the ensuing
massacre take refuge at the farm inhabited by the local eccentric, Marion
(Mungo McKay), a slick-shooting hick whose triple-barreled shotgun might just
save the day.
There’s enough gore and
cleverly conceived executions here that some critics will undoubtedly compare Undead to another Australian import -- Peter Jackson’s Dead-Alive, a campy classic in which an overwhelmed mama’s
attempts to preside over a house infested by insatiable ghouls. And while
superficial similarities do exist, Undead
lacks the energy, wit and exuberance that made Dead-Alive such a silly, sordid thrill. It meanders listlessly
for too long before, regurgitating every cliché of the genre before arriving at
a stunningly nonsensical, and surprisingly original, conclusion.
the end justify so much
plodding prologue? Hardly. But it’s about time someone had the sense to blast
those damn zombies into space, leaving them to hang amongst like tattered old
coasts in a cosmic attic.