Undead (Madman Ent) (2003)

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Released 11-Aug-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Crew: Peter & Michael Spierig, Andrew Strahorn, Steven Boyle
Audio Commentary-Cast: Mungo McKay, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Toronto International Film Festival Screening
Featurette-The Zombies - Internet Features
Featurette-Camera and Make-up Tests
Script To Screen Comparison-Animatic to Film Comparison
Deleted Scenes
Trailer-Internet Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Production Notes
Gallery-Photo
Notes-Artwork and Design Sketches
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Madman Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 99:54
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (12:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Spierig
Peter Spierig
Studio
Distributor
Spierig Film
Madman Entertainment
Starring Felicity Mason
Mungo McKay
Rob Jenkins
Lisa Cunningham
Dirk Hunter
Emma Randall
Steve Grieg
Noel Sheridan
Gaynor Wensley
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Cliff Bradley


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Berkeley is the sort of sleepy coastal village where kids fish off the pier and cows walk down the main street. When the family farm of Rene (Felicity Mason) is foreclosed by the friendly local building and loan society she is on her way out of town when a meteor shower strikes the village . . . turning the people into blood thirsty zombies! A disparate group of villagers, including Rene, local police Sergeant Harrison (Dirk Hunter) and Constable Molly Ford (Emma Randall) plus pilot Wayne (Rob Jenkins) and his very, very pregnant wife Sallyanna (Lisa Cunningham) take refuge from the zombies roaming outside in a bomb shelter constructed by Marion (Mungo McKay). Marion is a former gun shop owner who a few months previously had claimed he had been abducted by aliens. This created not a little derision in Berkeley and he was regarded by the villagers as a total nut case. But now Marion may well be the only person around who does indeed know what is going on, and why.

     The plot of Undead, an Australian film from 2003, is pretty incomprehensible. It blends an alien invasion of earth with zombies, adds acid rain, buckets of blood and gore, gunplay, suspense, a few shocks and a truckload of deadpan humour and comes up with a hugely entertaining film. Undead is a miniscule budget, independent film that was obviously a labour of love from the Spierig Brothers, Michael and Peter, who jointly wrote, produced, directed, edited, designed the sound and created the visual effects on a laptop computer. And probably made the tea as well. The acting is a mixed bag, mostly not particularly convincing although Mungo McKay as the dead pan Marion is good. The computer visual effects are indifferent, especially the plane sequence, but the zombie make-up is great and the practical blood and gore effects excessive, and well done. The dialogue is also sometimes delicious: “when I was young we respected our elders, we didn’t f****ng eat them! yells Harrison out the window to the encircling zombies.

     The film is replete with action and black humour moments and moves along at such a cracking pace that the plot really doesn’t matter; with little back story, in the first 5 minutes Undead launches into the first meteor strikes and the first zombie attacks. From there it races on for another 90 odd minutes, seldom letting up as the human survivors try to avoid the living dead, get past a huge towering black alien built wall and make their escape by truck or airplane. Some will make it, some will not of course. Does the fate of humankind really rest on such a fragile thread?

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Undead is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1.

     This is a soft print. Clarity and shadow detail were acceptable for a low budget film, and many scenes in dark places were difficult to see although blacks were fine. Colours were dull, and were either/both shot through yellow or blue filters or altered in post-production which adds to the lack of shadow detail and the flat looking colours. The dark print showed evidence of edge enhancement and frequent grain although dirt marks and other artefacts were absent.

     While not a great print, it is probably the result of the source material, not the DVD authoring.

     There are no subtitles.

     The layer change at 12:37 was noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. This is a nice enveloping audio track. Dialogue was a mixed bag. Some of the lines were delivered so fast it was difficult to hear and the absence of subtitles didn’t help. Other times it was a deliberate choice to have 3 or 4 characters yelling all at once so again some of the dialogue was lost. Otherwise it was fine. The surrounds were frequently used for music, ambience and panning effects, such as knocking from off camera; the sub woofer supported music and some effects.

     The original score by Cliff Bradley was an esoteric mix including everything from spaghetti western riffs, Hammer Horror motifs, to orchestral cues reminiscent of North By Northwest. It works nicely and supports the film well.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are a massive range of extras telling you probably more about the film’s production than you need to know. While there is some filler, many are genuinely interesting and informative.

From Set Up Menu

Crew Commentary: Peter & Michael Spierig (writers/producers/editors/sound designers/visual effects artists/directors), Andrew Strahorn (cinematographer) & Steven Boyle (special effects make-up artist)

     A very chatty commentary, lots of laughs and speaking over and across each other. There are some interesting details about casting and scripting, and they point out mistakes and errors, but not a lot about production details. However, these details were provided fairly extensively in the featurettes so are not so necessary in the commentary.

Cast Commentary: Mungo McKay (Marion), Dirk Hunter (Harrison) & Emma Randall (Molly)

     Three of the cast members sit together and are obviously having a wonderful time together; pity we don’t really share it. There are silences, then bursts of inane chatter about not much in particular and laughter. They tend to concentrate on what is happening and don’t give much information about the film or on set anecdotes.

From Special Features Menu

The Making of Undead (35:51)

     This is no fluff press kit but a terrific combination of behind the scenes footage, video diary and interviews covering pre-production, shooting and post-production. It is an informative, entertaining and honest look at independent filmmaking, warts and all. Just about everyone involved gets a say including cast Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Emma Randall, Dirk Hunter, Lisa Cunningham and Steve Grieg, as well as Michael & Peter Spierig, Steven Boyle (Special Effects Make-up), Matthew Putland (Production Designer), Andrew Strahorn (Director of Photography), Chintamani Aked (Costume Design), Rob Doran (1st Assistant Director), Grant Marshall (Sound), Bevan Lynch (Creature FX Animator), Cliff Bradley (Composer), plus Bob Parsons (Armourer) and Gulliver Page (Stunt Double). Wonderfully entertaining.

Toronto International Film Festival Screening (9:25)

     The film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival 4-13 September 2003. At the screening directors Michael & Peter Spierig took to the stage and answered questions from the audience. Very dark video and patchy sound.

The Zombies – Internet Features (1:45)

    Sketches, models, cast training to move like zombies and make-up tests.

Camera and Make-up Tests (2:13)

     Pretty much as it says: light tests, colour grading tests and camera speed tests – with music.

Homemade Dolly Construction Video (2:04)

     Design drawings, construction and testing (including accidents and redesign) of the special dolly used in the film.

Animatic to Film Comparison (12:01)

     Again – just as it says. Animatics of the climactic sequence of the film play with the completed film inserted in the bottom right of the screen. With completed film sound.

Deleted Scenes (10:54)

    8 extended and deleted scenes, including and alternative title sequence.

Undead Trailers

     Included is the Internet Teaser Trailer (0:23), Teaser Trailer (1:34) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:31).

Production Notes

     4 pages of text.

Production Stills

     28 behind the scenes pictures.

Artwork and Design Sketches

     14 sketches.

Cast and Crew Biographies

     Text screens for cast Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall and crew Peter & Michael Spierig.

Trailers

     Trailers for other Madman releases: Diary of the Dead (1:52) and REC (1:48).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Other releases in Region 1 USA and Region 2 UK, France have basically the same extra features, although trailers differ. However the Region 1 US version has been cut and runs 97:33 minutes. It is reported that some bloodless scenes were trimmed for “pacing” but I cannot find any details. The Region 2 UK includes a dts 5.1 audio, so may be just in front. However, given the good quality of the audio in Region 4, maybe a draw.

Summary

     Undead blends an alien invasion of earth with zombies, adds acid rain, buckets of blood and gore, gunplay, suspense, a few shocks and a truckload of deadpan humour and comes up with a hugely entertaining film that deserves to be seen.

     The video is acceptable for a low budget, independent film, the audio is good. The extras are extensive and most are interesting and informative. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
this movie was a crack up... -