Dir Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig Australia (18+)
Fanboy horror movies like this one from Michael and Peter Spierig are merely a collage of elements from earlier, better genre titles. In this case, the Aussie brothers borrow liberally from Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, George Romero’s zombie pics, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm. Like all such pick ’n’ mix selections, this zombie Western sci-fi black comedy tries (and fails) to make up in sheer enthusiasm and variety what it lacks in coherence and originality.
When a massive meteorite storm hits the small fishing community of Berkeley, the dead are resurrected as flesh-eating, brain-gobbling zombies. Five local residents take refuge in the remote farmhouse of tight-lipped survivalist nutter Marion (Mungo McKay). But not even his well-stocked armoury and triple-barrelled shotgun can save fascist cop Harrison, his asthmatic rookie partner Molly, the pregnant Sallyanne, her hapless boyfriend Wayne and local beauty queen Rene (Felicity Mason). Indeed, Rene’s tasty ‘Miss Catch of the Day’ seems destined to end up as ‘the entrée on a smorgasbord of brain food’.
While one must admire the scope and ambition of the home computer-created special effects and bargain-basement decapitations, amputations and disembowellings, the random plotting and splatterfest zombie slayings become increasingly wearing. The banal dialogue is occasionally enlivened by what sounds like a verbal ad lib: ‘When I was a kid, we f****** respected our parents, we didn’t f****** eat ’em.’ But what is the point of Marion’s ‘killer-fish’ flashbacks, the black-robed extraterrestrials, or indeed the entire last third of the film? Undead wears its brains on its sleeve, but otherwise there’s precious little grey matter on display.