How can you not love a zombie movie with a bad-ass ruralbeauty queen heroine, a plot twist involving aliens, and an armed-to-the-teethmilitant hillbilly wearing baggy overalls and spurs on his work boots?
Welcome to "Undead," a tongue-in-cheek Romerohomage from Down Under.
A huge cult hit in its homeland, this low-budget wonderby brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, begins with radioactive meteoritesturning most denizens of dot-on-the-map Berkeley, Australia, into lumbering,flesh-munching ghouls. Its handful of survivors hole up in a ramshacklefarmhouse, where the scruffy gun-nut redneck has been preparing for theworst (homemade bomb shelter, homemade triple-barrel shotgun) since hewas simultaneously attacked by a zombie trout (!) and abducted by a flyingsaucer while fishing some months before.
But soon they're on the run again, dodging downpours ofinexplicable acid rain, and wondering just what the hell is really goingon 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 barriersclimb into the clouds), who seem to be pulling survivors into the theirships 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 campygore (shake soda-pop, shove in zombie's mouth, fire gun -- kaplewy!), shoestring-budgetmoxie (the entire film is shot in moody moonlight-blue lighting) and amusinglywell-developed characters.
Beefy-curvy Felicity Mason is caustically credible as abackwater pageant winner with her over-plucked eyebrows, excessive lip-linerand bitter outlook on life. Burly, bearded Mungo McKay (love that name!)is a deadpan delight as the reticent bucolic brute who can pop pairs ofsemi-automatic handguns out of his overalls in slow-mo like some John Woohero. And Dirk Hunter (OK, seriously, what's with these names?) is a hootas a cowardly constable who pretends to take charge and makes a fool ofhimself.
In addition to knowing their zombie lore well enough totweak it with glee, the Spierigs take many dark-comedy action cues fromearly Sam Raimi flicks ("Evil Dead," etc.), turning their meagercinematic 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.