Released in its native Australia in 2003, this goofy "ghouls just want to have fun" genre-bender opened in the U.S. hard on the heels of George Romero's somber, fiercely focused LAND OF THE DEAD (2005), and the comparison isn't flattering. Written, directed, edited and produced by 29-year-old twins Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, who also did the bulk of the extensive CGI effects, it's a cheerful Frankenstein's monster, cobbled together from bits of dozens of zombie gut-crunchers, plus aliens, acid rain and assorted X-Files weirdness. Small-town Berkeley is famous for its fishing and not much else. Local girl Rene Chaplin (Felicity Mason), who's just lost the family farm to the bank, wants to make a fresh start somewhere anywhere else. Unfortunately, the day of her departure coincides with a freak meteor shower that turns the locals into a slavering zombie army. Rene takes refuge in an isolated farmhouse, whose early Texas Chain Saw decor suggests that she may have escaped the frying pan for the fire. Fortunately, beefy recluse Marion (Mungo McKay), who has a mind-boggling collection of weapons and a gravity-defying repertory of Hong Kong action-style moves, isn't as crazy as everyone assumed when he first started claiming he'd had a very close encounter with some inquisitive aliens. Having survived a run-in with zombie fish during his abduction, he's better prepared than most to deal with his reanimated neighbors. With four other survivors slightly dim small-plane pilot Wayne (Rob Jenkins); his hugely pregnant girlfriend, Sallyanne (Lisa Cunningham), who's never forgiven Rene for acing her out of the "Miss Catch of the Day" crown; belligerent, foul-mouthed cop Harrison (Dirk Hunter) and his meek new partner, Molly (Emma Randall) Rene and Marion try to get out of town, dodging zombies when they can and mowing them down when they can't. Veterans of commercials and short films (including a zombie trilogy), the Spierigs invested two and a half years and some one million Australian dollars (roughly U.S. $760,000) of their own money to make their feature debut. Despite a bigger and more polished look than most films made under similar circumstances, this blunt mix of standard-issue shocks and cheap laughs isn't a patch on Peter Jackson's deliriously excessive DEAD ALIVE (1992) and lacks the deadpan wit of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004). There's nothing under the goofball gags and gushing gore, and its welcome is worn out well before it's over.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: R
- Review: Released in its native Australia in 2003, this goofy "ghouls just want to have fun" genre-bender opened in the U.S. hard on the heels of George Romero's somber, fiercely focused LAND OF THE DEAD (2005), and the comparison isn't flattering. Written, directe… (more)