Undead (Imagine Ent) (2003)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Toronto International Film Festival Screening
Featurette-The Zombies - Internet Featurette
Featurette-Camera And Make-Up Tests
Featurette-Homemade Dolly Construction Video
Featurette-Animatic To Film Comparison
Teaser Trailer-2, Including Internet Teaser Trailer
Gallery-Production Stills, Artwork And Design Sketches
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (87:20)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Hailed by critics everywhere as an extraordinary feature film debut, Undead is a triumph for the Spierig brothers Michael and Peter, the production of which was a huge undertaking. The film itself was made for just under one million Australian dollars and of over 300 special effects shots, only two were outsourced to another company - leaving the two brothers to complete the majority of the CG work on their laptops.
The result is superb entertainment, with plenty of gore and nail-biting action - not to mention many hilarious moments throughout the film. Emerging Aussie talents Felicity Mason and Mungo McKay each give excellent performances as the reluctant heroes of the story, as do the remainder of the Australian cast.
In this classic spin on the typical Zombie yarn, meteorites begin falling in the secluded town of Berkeley, turning the inhabitants into the walking, brain-eating dead. A group of survivors are forced to make a collective stand against the apparent invasion in an effort to escape the town, the group consisting of a constable on her first day of duty, her manic partner, a charter pilot and his pregnant wife, a local beauty queen and an alien abductee. When forced to work together the locals conflict with each other as much as the Zombies, and soon find that escaping the town is much more difficult than they thought.
Each of the characterisations are so unique they could individually carry their own film, particularly the insane police sergeant Harrison (Dirk Hunter) who cannot seem to string two words together without inserting an expletive. Mungo McKay's character Marion is also well scripted, an enigmatic who has been outcast from the community for declaring his abduction experience. With such a rich assortment of characters and the relative success the film has enjoyed, the production of a sequel is assured.
Undead has a timeless quality and succeeds in overlapping many genres, including horror, sci-fi, comedy and thriller - and as such should appeal to a great many movie lovers.
The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
Given its very low budget, I was surprised to find that this transfer is surprisingly clear and a pleasure to watch. The picture is clear and sharp, albeit with a mild degree of intermittent grain throughout the film. This level of grain is consistent with a theatrical screening I experienced last year. A large portion of the film is set in the night and I'm happy to say that black levels are solid and consistent, with a good degree of shadow detail. There were no instances of low level noise during the transfer.
As is discussed within the director's commentary on this disc, the film has undergone significant colour grading to create a convincing contrast between the normality of the film's opening scenes and the onset of the Zombie invasion. As such, there are absolutely no issues with colour oversaturation or bleeding in this transfer.
The transfer is very clean indeed - there are no film artefacts to be found and MPEG artefacting is also thankfully absent. Aliasing is also remarkably well controlled, in fact I did not note a single occurrence during the entire feature. There is a blurry spot on the lens at 2:26 during a slow pan, but this was only visible for a few seconds and was not overly distracting.
There are no subtitle streams provided on this disc, however several lines of translation are burned into the video stream during the film's climax at 82:58.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer transition occurring towards the end of the film at 87:20. The brief pause only mildly interrupts some ambient noise and is certainly not too obtrusive.
There are three audio options, two of which are feature commentaries. The default stream is English Dolby Digital 5.1, encoded at 448Kb/s.
The dialogue contained in the film is a mixture of location audio and ADR work and is generally problem free. The film's ADR process is touched upon several times in the extra features of this DVD, and makes for interesting viewing. There are no issues with audio sync at all.
The soundtrack score is grand and orchestral, in the vein of the great action-adventure composers such as John Williams. Although it has a programmed and electronic feel in places, it manages to maintain the perfect mood throughout the film without drawing too much attention to itself.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track utilises the surround channels brilliantly for a totally encompassing experience. The rear surround channels deliver an array of sounds, from door knocks to actual dialogue such as at 4:32 and 20:20. Considering the relatively low budget of this production I was pleasantly surprised by the immersive nature of this soundtrack.
The subwoofer was used very well, building tension and accentuating gunshot thuds and the like. It even added some deep rumblings to the engine of a parking Volvo at 8:53, a neat gesture.
|Surround Channel Use|
These are a decent collection of extras, covering most aspects of the production. All of the additional material is 16x9 enhanced and accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
In what is a fascinating insight into the low-budget filmmaking process, the Spierig brothers discuss all facets of the production, including the time consuming special effects, budgetary constraints, casting and illness on the set. The four gents seem to get along well and share many laughs, making this commentary a breeze to sit through.
There are some genuinely good laughs to be found in this commentary as well, as the three actors share a lot of great experiences they had during filming. Of particular interest is their pointing out the differences between the original script and the final cut of the film.
Focusing on cast and crew interviews, this featurette details the intense commitment and the long hours that were spent making this low budget project look like a big budget studio film. We join the brothers on their first day of filming and witness first hand the trials of everyday production, including ADR work and the scoring of the film, all the way to the first screening.
In the Toronto Film Festival of September 2003, Undead was the final film to be shown at the packed Uptown Theater. The Spierig brothers were in attendance and fielded questions from an enthusiastic audience.
This short featurette covers the zombie training that the many extras had to endure, including physical activity and make-up tests.
Prior to beginning production on the film, extensive tests were carried out on the effectiveness of colour grading and alternate frame rates to create the appearance of unnatural movement. We also see early drafts of the sickness make-up and smoke effects.
This featurette covers the various stages of construction that were involved in manufacturing their own camera dolly, complete with crane arm.
This is an interesting picture-in-picture comparison of the original twelve minute animated climax of the film and the finished product.
Here we have three slightly extended scenes and four short deleted scenes, along with an alternate title sequence.
This is a very brief trailer with only a couple of flashes of imagery to give an idea of the mood of the film.
Focusing on short bursts of action from the film, this teaser does a great job of selling the film as an action/ horror effort.
The theatrical trailer goes a little further into the plot of the film and introduces us to a couple of the characters. A few of the most humorous lines from the film are included, but outside of their context they are not done their full justice.
There are five pages of info about how the project came to fruition, and the many challenges that the Spierig brothers had to face. A lot of the information presented here is already touched upon in the other extra material.
These are a collection of photographs, taken during filming.
Among the various sketches and drawings of the set design are some great concepts for the creature faces.
These are your average bios, covering six of the main actors and the Spierig brothers. One particularly good read is the story of the Spierig brothers' journey from a few humble short films to making their first feature film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer suffers from a little grain, but is easy to watch.
The audio transfer is imaginatively mixed, creating an absorbing experience.
There are plenty of valid extras included in the package, covering most aspects of the filmmaking process.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-525, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|