Zombie Undead (2011)

Directed By: Rhys Davies
Written By: Kris Tearse
Starring: Ruth King
  Kris Tearse
  Barry Thoma
  Christopher J. Herbert
Zombie Undead

Dumb name, dumb characters, dumb film; Zombie Undead is incredibly dumb. As innovative & imaginative as tomato soup and just a thrilling, Zombie Undead is one long streak of bloody lumbering stupidness. Avoid avoid avoid.

Zombie films… not exactly rare, are they? In the past decade we’ve had Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Zombie Virus on Mulberry Street, Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Day of the Dead remake, Day of the Dead 2, [REC] and [REC] 2, Island of the Living Dead, 4 Resident Evil films, Last of the Living, Zombieland, Wicked Little Things, Dance of the Dead, Zombie Strippers, The Devil’s Playground, Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!, Colin, Flight of the Living Dead, La Horde, Hell’s Ground, Sexy Killer, Big Tits Zombie, L.A. Zombie, Army of the Dead, Ninjas vs. Zombies, Dead Snow, Wasting Away, Zombie Women of Satan and Apocalypse of the Living Dead (to name literally only a few), and don’t forget a full television series in The Walking Dead and computer games such as Dead Rising 1 & 2, the fast-evolving Resident Evil franchise and Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare. And it it’s not stopping yet – coming very soon are Cockneys vs. Zombies, World War Z, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Boy Scouts vs. Zombies. The marketplace is so saturated with zombies that anything new needs to be innovative and essentially different in order to be noticed (like Zombieland and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for example). So is Zombie Undead innovative and different enough to make an impact? I’ll let you decide from the plot description below…

After a bomb goes off in a nearby city, a local medical centre is overrun by the wounded and the medical staff are struggling to cope. When Sarah arrives with her injured father, she faints and wakes up in a seemingly deserted hospital (a la 28 Days Later / The Walking Dead) only to discover it’s populated by the living dead – zombies who are undead! Her mission instantly becomes clear; she needs to find her father and escape the medical centre.

Does this plot sound particularly original? No. It’s an amalgamation of a hundred other titles, including the woeful Steven Segal vampire movie Against the Dark, which features a group of idiots attempting to escape a vamp-infested hospital. Now, originality is not necessarily the most important thing in a film – far from it sometimes – but the content needs to be exciting, well crafted, well acted and utterly compelling. Is Zombie Undead any of this? No. No it’s not.

Ignoring the infuriatingly tautological title, Zombie Undead is otherwise really irritating for anyone who’s even glimpsed a zombie film – or any kind of film. The creators of Zombie Undead treat their audience like complete morons on a number of levels; continuity is buggered throughout, most notably with Jay’s white shirt that is splattered with seemingly magical blood stains, which randomly disappear and change place from second to second, like a possessed tie-dye shirt. The “medical facility” is clearly an old school or a retirement complex and it’s laughable when one character claims it’s been locked down “airtight” and all the doors are sealed – especially when they walk through a wobbly-looking fire exit later on! Then at one point our heroes find themselves “trapped” in an inaccessible courtyard with no exit, despite there being some bike racks and a sign saying ‘No Parking’, suggesting maybe, just maybe, there’s an exit somewhere close by…

Okay, so maybe you don’t care about continuity or terrible location choices, but you must care about the zombies, right? You know, the undead ones. From Night of the Living Dead through to Resident Evil: Afterlife, zombies have always been terrifying because of their huge numbers and their endless tenacity. In Zombie Undead they’re the traditional slow-moving ghouls – which is admittedly a nice change to the recent spate of free running super-zombs – but there is literally no sense of threat as these particular zombies are lumberingly moronic and sparsely spaced creatures. If Jay (Kris Tearse) bothered to use his randomly-acquired machete then they probably could’ve just killed everyone who undied and then walked out of the building calmly…

Fine, so some people might not care about continuity-fails, confused locations or a lack of actual threat, but surely you want some likeable characters you can root for? Yes? Then go elsewhere. The messy script and amateur acting leave most scenes feeling improvised and rushed, and the characters are all woefully annoying. Our protagonist Sarah (Ruth King) is pathetically wet and such a witless twit that you simply want to slap her with a severed leg just to wake her up. Her companions are also frustrating as Steve the ambulance man (Barry Thomas) just moans the entire time and Jay is a massive git throughout. Kris Tearse’s Jay is perhaps the most fleshed out and interesting character, but this is of no surprise considering Zombie Undead was penned by Tearse himself. Naughty, naughty Kris Tearse.

So… the script… it’s sparse, messy and absolutely laughable at times. When one guy vomits blood down himself after having half his throat ripped out, Sarah asks “Are you okay?” Yeah, of course, love; it’s just a flesh wound. Zombie Undead lacks a decent sense of humour, which all films need a little of. There’s no irony, sarcasm or deliberately idiotic characters, it’s just very po-faced and frustratingly dull because of it. You simply do not care about anyone in the film.

The good points? Okay, I relent, there’s a lot of blood and gore and newcomers to the zombie genre might be surprised by some of it. Oddly, the final minutes that play over the credits are genuinely compelling, but it feels like you’ve run bare-foot through a mound of burning hot dogshit to get to a tasty chocolate bar – it’s simply not worth the journey.

Zombie Undead feels like a student project on a massive scale. It seems sewn together badly and quickly and without the necessary attention to detail a film such as this requires. The makers probably hammered and cobbled it into existence through spare change, favours and by gutting their pets for blood effects, but that’s NOT an excuse. Make a short film instead. I wouldn’t expect someone to eat a cake I’ve made out of an old pizza and half a dead duck.

This review may appear to be brutally vitriolic – like I want to rape the creators’ souls – but I don’t hate the makers of this piece. Congratulations have to go to them for creating a feature film and getting it distributed – it’s a tough, long journey – yet, despite this achievement, Zombie Undead genuinely made me furious throughout. There is nothing new or exciting or clever or fun or funny or innovative or fresh or well crafted within it; nothing at all. Even the soundtrack, which is pretty decent, seems like David Fellows and Kris Tearse (him again!) have shamelessly ripped-off John Murphy’s score from 28 Days Later… and it practically steals it wholesale in parts. Nothing is original in Zombie Undead.

If the story had been different then maybe Zombie Undead could’ve survived the critical mauling I’ve just delivered it, but director Rhys Davies and writer Kris Tearse have taken my favourite horror sub-genre and shagged it so hard in the face that they’ve left it choking on its own teeth. Zombie Undead is an absolute travesty of a film. Watch any other zombie film instead of this. Watch any film. Go to sleep. Have a cry. Commit suicide. Do anything but watch this god-awful mess…

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

8 Comments on “Zombie Undead”

  1. Katie says:

    I 100% agree with this review. It is possibly one of the worst films I have ever seen. All the way through the film I was just laughing at the continuity and the courtyard with no exit.

    I would not recommend this film to anybody. It was more comedy than horror.

  2. Dexter says:

    I know the guys that made this. It was done as a sort of hobby job and should not be taken too seriously. Cut the vitriol and appreciate what amateurs can do on a tiny tiny budget!

    • The Scullion says:

      Hi Dexter,

      Thanks for the comment! I did say “Congratulations have to go to them for creating a feature film and getting it distributed – it’s a tough, long journey” – they SHOULD be proud of their achievement. It’s a rare and beautiful thing getting any film made, let alone distributed! Congratulations again to them. Amazing work.

      But the makers (and all filmmakers) have gotta understand that by putting their product / hobby in the marketplace and asking people to pay £10 for it, these people (inlcluding myself!) expect a certain level of quality. I’m not asking for Hollywood special effects or crane-cameras swooping in to a rising John William’s score, but I want an enjoyable movie, not an obviously amateur film with some serious, serious flaws. Having looked online, it appears I am not alone in my criticsm, and although my review is certainly vitriolic, I just can’t abide wasting my time watching something like it!

      Edgar Wright made a student film once, but he added it as an extra bonus feature on the DVD of Hot Fuzz. It was terrible, but it didn’t matter because it was free! Zombie Undead seems like it should’ve been that – starting off someone’s portfolio before the big release, not being the actual release.

      If I knew the people involved or was involved in the production itself, I’d probably love it and understand it as a whole process, not just an end product. But you must undoubtedly despise certain films (we all hate at least one film!) and never give a second thought to the hundreds of hours people spent creating them. Why would you?!

      They’ve made a film and whacked it out into the business world – it will be compared to everything else in the marketplace, not as “that zombie film made on a tiny tiny budget, come on, give it some slack”. If someone served me an uncooked plate of chips covered in sick, I wouldn’t shrug it and accept it simply because the chef was only cooking as a “hobby” and not taking his job seriously…

      I hope some people discover Zombie Undead and love it. I honestly do, because film creates debate and always should. That’s why I love film. Even films I call “an absolute travesty”. I sincerely hope Mister Davies and Mister Tearse prove me wrong in the future, and create a genre-classic I love. And it’s definitely possible. In the insane world of filmmaking, pretty much anything’s possible…

      Oh, and you have to admit that the title “Zombie Undead” is godawfully silly…!!

      Cheers,
      Scullion

  3. Dexter says:

    I can’t disagree with you really. Constructive criticism should always be valued.

  4. [...] Zombie Undead « Gorepress [...]

  5. Rachel says:

    I haven’t seen Zombie Undead, but because of this review, I’m sure as hell not going to. But the WORST zombie movie(or even all movies I’ve seen at that) is Days of Darkness. I cursed myself for even finishing the movie. Holy shit face. If you’re looking for a movie that contains bad acting, a disturbing yet horribly put together plot, and an ex-pornstar, then Days of Darkness is for you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…

  6. Kris says:

    Quality review… you’re right though. I should’ve used that machete more often.

    Just to note – I didn’t actually write the part for myself it’s just that the guy who was doing it dropped out and we had three days before shooting so unfortunately the film had a rather “portly” hero.

    Still I think it’s a very fair review. I’d have given it 1.5 stars personally ;)

    Kris

    • Scullion says:

      Hahahaha! Excellent – good man.

      A sense of humour is essential in this mad, mad business they call film… and thankfully you’ve got one (even if you are secretly planning evil, sick revenge on me and my family).

      I’ll certainly give you 10 stars / skulls for your well-reasoned comment…

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