I believe some of the best movie ideas probably happen in college dorms when someone is watching something like Forrest Gump and then somebody else who is completely stoned walks by and says something like, “I’ve seen this but it would have been so much better if Forrest Gump traveled into the future, too, and met the Time Bandits.” This would likely be followed by an explanation to the passerby that Forrest never “traveled back in time” in the current film- it was about his life as he lived it, told in a flashback, so time travel of any kind would make no sense. The explanation misses the point. The beauty is that if this person ever had the chance to actually make his own movie, he would call it Forrest Meets the Time Bandits and it would make a million dollars. This is because in today’s market even the worst theatrical releases make a million dollars. But it’s also because he had the guts to call it what it is. Hollywood is busy ripping off and combining old movies, then trying to fool us into thinking we’re watching something new. Somehow, this fooling process just makes them all terrible. For example, I don’t know much about the upcoming Alien Vs. Predator movie, but I do know it would be better if they just remade Aliens, gave the Bill Paxton role to Jack Black, and half way through the movie threw some Predators into the middle of the shit storm for no apparent reason.
When it comes to zombie movies, filmmakers are virtually forced into cribbing from previous zombie movies. Unlike comedies or dramas, where there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to plot, a zombie movie pretty much has to have an army of undead walking the earth. Whether it’s because of radiation from a passing asteroid or an unleashed virus from some lab monkeys, it’s still an army of undead walking the earth. This is one reason why most zombie movies are good – they can’t try and pretend something they’re not.
The concept of a new zombie flick from down under sounds a little like something dreamt up during one of those aforementioned dorm encounters, combining Night of the Living Dead with the Kiwi sensibility (and aliens) of Bad Taste, plus a farmer who has some John Woo guns. If you’re thinking that sounds like the greatest movie ever made, you’re wrong. But it’s still very good. And for those who like their walking dead with a dash of laughs and a heroine who progressively peels off more and more of her clothes because the acid rain keeps eating through them, then Undead is the perfect goulash of ghouls and gags.
The movie is unavailable on American shores at this point, but rumors of a global release continue to spread. While I cannot recommend anyone fly to Australia just to rent the DVD, I can still rate it positively.
On a scale of movies with regards to how much better they would have been with the inclusion of Forrest Gump, where One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1 (pretty much the same movie) and Jaws 2 is a 10 (‘I think we need a bigger boat… named Jenny,’ Hanks would recite in his Oscar acceptance speech), I give Undead the rating of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the numerical equivalent of a strange and exhilarating 8.