The Dead Undead (2011)

The Dead Undead; having already slogged my way through Zombie Undead in April, the prospect of trudging through the second most tautological zombie film of 2011 was not a exciting one. I expected another cheap Romero rip-off with shallow characters and zero invention. Instead, I got the most explosively ridiculous zombie / vampire mash-up I’ve ever seen. Dumb, obvious, but absolutely jam-packed with insane stunts and man-eating zombie vampire sprinter people. It is an insane film. Massively flawed, but gleefully fun.

The Dead Undead is incredibly slow paced at first, as the group of five “friends” attempt to rent a seemingly-abandoned motel in the middle of the woods. What follows are disjointed, awkward scenes in a manky lake, manky motel room and an incredibly manky shower. Then running-zombie mad-bastards turn up and start ruining everything, although the introduction of the brainless, flesh-chomping psychos is a very welcome thing.

Then, inexplicably, some mercenaries show up and – BOOM! KAPOW! SPLAT! –  they shoot, punch, stab, slice and explode their way through an endless sprint of zombie monstrosities. The teenage survivors are joined by a random man looking for his wife, and they quickly realise these mercenaries are vampires. Yep, vampires.

So the vampire mercs, the remaining teens and a random man looking for his wife team up and decide to tackle the remaining zombies and eradicate this flesh-eating insanity before it gets to the more populated area… or the budget runs out.

Ultimately The Dead Undead is a little underwhelming and significantly meandering. A plot thread – an actual goal – doesn’t appear for over twenty minutes and even this is unclear. At forty minutes it starts to get genuinely intriguing, with a surprise Viking flashback…

The Dead Undead feels like it’s been created by the Stuntman Filmmakers Guild as it features more stunts, swordplay, car flips, explosions and – well – stunts than any other horror film I’ve seen. Some are awesome, some don’t work, but there are hundreds of them. We flash back to Viking times, the Vietnam War and the Wild West – all simply excuses for another massive bust-up.

Sadly when the action stops The Dead Undead drags horrifically, which is actually okay considering there is 400 times more action than there is any semblance of a plot. Sod story, if you like swords, rocket launchers, machine guns, pistols, shotguns, car flips, decapitations, grenades, limb severing and explosions, then The Dead Undead is for you!

The scripting is split down the middle, being both great and absolutely cackbadgers. The ideas, the plotting and some individual scenes are awesome, but Edward Conna’s screenplay is let down by some truly awful dialogue, and at many points, a very conspicuous absence of it. When the groups first encounter some flesh-eating monsters no one says anything about it. At all.

Otherwise, there is almost no dialogue that doesn’t involve exposition or yelling directions; in fact, the majority of the dialogue is delivered matter-of-factly and badly so. It’s as naturalistic as a sixth form nativity play; stilted, po-faced and mostly senseless. There are some exceptions – Luke Goss is randomly in it, and out-acts everyone with ease, Luke LaFontaine and Spice Williams-Crosby are excellent, and Matthew R. Anderson and Edward Conna are acceptably amiable when they’re not being overwhelmingly in-your-face bad-ass. But the rest – mostly the aging “teenagers” – are terrible.

The major players involved in The Dead Undead are all stunt actors of some sort. Anderson has worked on many titles including Die Hard 4.0 and The Italian Job remake, whilst Conna has worked on over 100 titles, from Fast & Furious to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Their experience shows, as this film is one long stunt – enjoyable & awe-inspiring but lacking character & depth.

Incidentally – or not so much – Matthew R. Anderson and Edward Conna also direct The Dead Undead, and it’s rudimentary stuff, with some missed P.O.V. opportunities and awful blocking. It isn’t intrusive or appalling and luckily the action and stunts are awesome fun, crazy and utterly brutal in places. Who needs decent direction when a man is shot off a car roof, flips in the air and smashes his face on the bonnet? Not me.

The Dead Undead is such a mixed bag it’s difficult to name all of its problems and it honestly seems a little mean-spirited to do so. Despite being obviously made on a shoe-string budget and crappily smacked together in places, it’s really likeable and certainly watchable. Bonkers, fast, brutal and a lot of fun, The Dead Undead is an enjoyably flawed piece of work.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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