Combustible Celluloid
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With: Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall
Written by: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig
Directed by: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and gore, and for language
Running Time: 100
Date: 02/27/2003

Undead (2003)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Zombies from Space

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though filmmakers never seem to run out of ideas for vampire movies, the new crop of zombie movies faintly smacks of desperation. Filmmakers have recently tried for faster zombies, updated backdrops and comedy angles, but no one has yet been able to touch the master, George A. Romero's brilliant quadrilogy (though Shaun of the Dead comes close). Peter and Michael Spierig's new Australian zombie movie, Undead, arrives on U.S. shores two years after its Australia opening and just a couple of weeks after Romero's latest masterpiece, Land of the Dead. Despite a few new ideas and a modicum of entertainment value, Undead ultimately seems irrelevant.

Like Romero's films, the plot revolves around a disparate band of survivors who scramble together in hiding places, gather food and argue a lot. Their leader is a stoic hillbilly gun dealer, Marion (Mungo McKay) and the main character is sullen beauty queen Rene (Felicity Mason). The film's new twist comes as something of a surprise, so I'll let that be, except to say that it has something to do with aliens. The Spierig brothers get by with their speedy pace and cheap-looking visual effects, and quite a bit of kinetic camera movement stolen from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films. They also manage a striking black-and-white-in-color effect by dousing everything in a bleak, metallic gray. Though whether the brothers have it in them to follow in Raimi's footsteps and direct a big-budget superhero movie remains to be seen.

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