Undead (Blu-ray) (2003)

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Released 4-May-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Alternative Version-International Cut of the film
Audio Commentary-Crew: Peter & Michael Spierig, Andrew Strahorn, Steven Boyle
Audio Commentary-Cast: Mungo McKay, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall
Additional Footage-B-Roll Footage
Featurette-The Zombies - Internet Features
Featurette-Camera and Make-up Tests
Script To Screen Comparison-Animatic to Film Comparison
Deleted Scenes-x 8
Trailer-Internet Trailer, Teaser Trailer and Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Artwork and Design Sketches
Trailer-Madman Trailers x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 103:59 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 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 Standard Blu-ray
RPI $34.95 Music Cliff Bradley


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The 2003 Australian film Undead comes from the Spierig Brothers who jointly wrote, produced, directed, edited, designed the sound and created the visual effects on a lap top computer. Undead has already been released twice on DVD in Region 4 so fans will have the film Those who just want to know if the Blu-ray is worth the upgrade should skip to the summary.

     For the uninitiated, Undead blends aliens, zombies, acid rain, buckets of blood and gore, gunplay, suspense, a few shocks and a truckload of deadpan humour into a hugely entertaining film. 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 society she is leaving town when a meteor shower strikes the village . . . turning the people into blood thirsty zombies! A disparate group including Rene, local police Sergeant Harrison (Dirk Hunter) and Constable Molly Ford (Emma Randall) and pilot Wayne (Rob Jenkins) and his very pregnant wife Sallyanna (Lisa Cunningham) take refuge from the zombies in a bomb shelter constructed by Marion (Mungo McKay). Marion is a former gun shop owner who a few months previously had claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Not surprisingly, he was regarded as a nut case by the villagers. But now Marion may well be the only person around who does indeed know what is going on, and why.

     Undead moves along at such a cracking pace that the plot really doesn’t matter; in the first 5 minutes Undead launches into the first meteor strikes and the first zombie attacks. From there it races on for another 100 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. This is great fun; and Undead is a wonderfully entertaining Australian film .

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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.

     The DVD was a soft print. Clarity and shadow detail were acceptable for a low budget film but many scenes in dark places were difficult to see.

     The Blu-ray retains the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p HD. With its low budget source material, and with extensive colour grading in post-production, it is still not a film to show off your Blu-ray but the HD does improve the quality of the print. This is a very dark film, with the majority of action taking place in darkness, under the alien cloud or in dark interiors. Colours are still on the dull side, but blacks are rock solid and detail improved. Shadow detail can at places still be on the indistinct side, but it also has improved to the extent that you can always see what is happening. There are no dirt marks, and other than grain and minor edge enhancement the print probably looks as good as it is going to get.

     There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

     On the DVD audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps which was a nice enveloping audio track. The Blu-ray features a LPCM 5.1 audio track that is very aggressive. Dialogue is easier to hear than in the DVD, although some is still a bit difficult to understand, the surrounds are frequently in use for explosions, gun shots, weather effects such as rain, and music. The rears are also in use for panning effects such as knocking and vehicles. The subwoofer is also regularly in action for effects and music but it can on occasions, such as the crowd scene towards the end of the film, become too loud and unbalance the audio.

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

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

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

Extras

     There are a massive range of extras, most of which were on the previous DVD releases. While there is some filler, many are genuinely interesting and informative.

International Cut of the Film

     This is new to the Blu-ray. The original film on Region 4 DVDs had a running time of 99:54. The Blu-ray runs 103:59, the difference being the PAL 4% speedup of the DVD that does not effect the Blu-ray. The International Cut on the Blu-ray runs 97:33 and thus it loses about 6 minutes. As far as I could tell, no blood or gore has been cut. Instead scenes have been trimmed, from simply a single line (i.e., when Wayne in the on the phone, his comment to his co-worker about his wife is cut) to whole sections of dialogue. For example, when the group are in the bomb shelter both the section where Harrison threatens Marion about his guns, and where Molly tells Rene her “happy story” are both cut, the last especially leaving an abrupt transition. Later, when the group return to the Berkeley store, the scene before they enter is substantially trimmed. This International version does reduce the character of Harrison especially; I cannot see why one would bother, but I suppose it is here for completeness. Oh, and the audio for this International Cut is also only LPCM 2.0 non-surround encoded.

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, with 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 the production. .

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

     Three of the cast members sit together and obviously have a wonderful time; 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.

The Making of Undead (37:20)

     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). Great stuff.

B-Roll Footage (14:48)

     New to the Blu-ray, this is not alternative takes but an unstructured grab-bag of bits and pieces without any linking captions or narration. Mainly behind the scenes off cuts – some stunt practice, make up, squib testing, composing the music. Quality varies, sound drops out about 5 times.

The Zombies – Internet Features (1:48)

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

Camera and Make-up Tests (2:17)

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

Homemade Dolly Construction Video (2:08)

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

Animatic to Film Comparison (12:30)

     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

    Eight extended and deleted scenes:

Galleries

Trailers

     Included is the Undead Internet Teaser Trailer (0:23), Teaser Trailer (1:37) and Theatrical Trailer (2:36), plus trailers for other Madman releases running 7:55 in total: The Loved Ones, Monsters, Splice and Lake Mungo.

R4 vs R1

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

     There is not currently a Blu-ray release in other regions – this release is coded Regions A/B/C. Releases of the DVD in Region 1 USA and Region 2 UK, France and Region 2 UK have basically the same extra features as the Region 4 DVD, although trailers differ. The Region 1 US version runs 97:33 minutes; this is the International version included on this Blu-ray.

Summary

     Undead has already been released twice on DVD in Region 4, first by Image Entertainment (reviewed on this site here) and then by Madman Entertainment (which I reviewed here).

     The Blu-ray is certainly an improvement over the SD with enhanced detail, contrast and shadow detail, although given the low budget source materials this was never going to be a huge difference. The audio is significantly boosted. The Blu-ray retains the majority of the extras previously released on the DVDs including the commentaries, making of, deleted scenes, photo galleries and the various behind the scenes featurettes. The Toronto International Film Festival featurette is missing. Instead the Blu-ray includes 14 minutes of B-roll footage not available elsewhere plus the “International Cut” (actually the US Region 1 version) of the film.

     Undead is a wonderfully entertaining Australian film from the Spierig Brothers who have since gone on to bigger things with Daybreakers (2008). If you do not already have a copy of Undead you should check out this Blu-ray. If you already own a copy, and enjoy the film, the upgrade is probably worth it. Otherwise, I doubt is there is a significant enough change to warrant a repurchase.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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

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