Today I watched The Spierig Brothers’ Undead (2003)
This film takes place in the small Australian town of Berkeley in which a beauty pageant winner named Rene is making preparations to leave now that her family farm has been repossessed. Unfortunately for her, a number of meteors fall in the nearby vicinity and from the ash clouds they kick up, zombies arise. Rene finds herself on the run through the countryside where she meets Marion, a dude with that triple shotgun one can see on the poster and an absurd amount of exposition. He also has a bunker in which they and a bunch of other, typical early 00’s over the top and unlikable people, hide out for a while until they are driven back out by their own annoyance, to face the zombie hordes.
This film styles itself as a horror comedy that pays homage to a wide breadth of work. Obviously there are the aforementioned zombies but there are also some alien invaders and the film takes on stylistic elements of a 50’s or 60’s style B-movie. This is especially apparent in the score which is immediately recognizable as being extremely dated and over the top. Over the top really is the defining aspect of this film and is the crux of it’s sense of humour, but while I am usually a purveyor of the absurd and wild, I really did not connect with this film.
I felt that much of the humour came from over the top characters just yelling over each other and I found almost all of them to be so unlikable as to be beneath contempt. The character of Marion is this film’s saving grace I think because his over the top character is more the strong silent type with a really hilarious trademark weapon. He also knows an absurd amount about what is going on and his delivery of that exposition was what I felt to be the best joke of the film.
Having seen the other films directed by the Spierig Brothers I have come to a rather strange conclusion. The other two features they have made are both quite serious, high concept works which are both quite enthralling, yet they fail to deliver on this send up to campy B-movies. There is obvious passion here and they obviously know and care for the source material as there is more love than irony here, yet it still fails due to inexperience and perhaps a misplacement of their skills. These guys can deliver the serious and thoughtful, but they just can’t get silly done properly. Maybe they just can’t write such silly characters to be particularly interesting or likable. 2/5