Before the Spierig Brothers would take on what would be their second feature film as their writer, director, producer team with Daybreakers starring Ethan Hawke, and possibly their best movie to date.
Before they would even attempt to expand the Saw franchise with Jigsaw and then to breathe further life into the Hammer Films productions with Winchester, they would craft their first feature, Undead; a schlocky, low budget, zombie / alien invasion feast set in remote Australia.
The movie has just been released by Umbrella Entertainment as a Blu-ray/Dvd edition for their Beyond Genres collection. Check out the extras at the foot of this article.
The movie itself is not exactly brain fodder, but I remember from its initial release back in 2003 that it was a lot of fun to watch and packed with that unusual blend of Aussie humour that always seems to lift the storyline. There are some iconic moments too, namely from Mungo Mckay’s character Marion, a doomsday prepper who has encountered a paranormal encounter before and has been subjected to being an outcast ever since. His performance channels somewhere between Ash Campbell for sheer resilience and his namesake, James Wayne, with a cowboy like approach to survival and armed with a triple shotgun among his many resources.
Interestingly though, Marion isn’t the hero of the movie, as our lead protagonist falls to meek Rene (Felicity Mason) who has been a downtrodden character most of her life and just wants to get the hell out of Kansas. When push comes to shove though, she soon shows her metal and comes out fighting.
To look at this movie and scorn the performances though which I have seen some people comment on is to miss the style that The Spierig Brothers were going for. Clearly, they wanted to experiment with some visual effects, something that the extras in this release shines a light on. Undead would be their showpiece and a playing field for them to experiment with what they could do through a feature narrative. The problem as always is budget, which there wasn’t a lot of. So knowing this, the filmmakers went with a ramped up melodramatic, pulp style 50’s invasion feel. One that, knowing this beforehand, takes the pressure of applying a highbrow response to and simply letting it flow and enjoying the ride.
The film is packed with a lot of set play, from zombies attacking, survival instincts, seedy characters, bullheaded police officers, aliens, infection and nods to the era that formed the base of these kind of movies, one that comes to mind are some of the earlier scenes in Village of the Damned. There are also elements of Night of the Living Dead at play here, all of which goes to show that The Spierig Brothers are lovers of their craft and with Undead shows a great introduction to the celluloid mainstream with a film that wears its heart on its sleeve. So while it may not be original or groundbreaking, Undead still offers enough to entertain and essential viewing for film lovers who are interested in following the journey of a couple of creatives in the rise.
- Saul Muerte
Undead is released on Blu Ray and DVD by Umbrella Entertainment.
Details of the extras are listed as follows:
- Original Soundtrack CD
- Audio Commentary with Directors Peter and Michael Spierig and Cinematographer Andy Strahorn
- On the set of the Undead
- Attack of the Undead – Short Film
- The Making of Undead
- Homemade Dolly Video
- Undead Camera and Make-up Tests
- Stills Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer