Add Australian brothers Peter and Michael Spierig to the ever-growing list of siblings splitting filmmaking chores.
The Spierigs are responsible for “Undead,” a sci-fi/horror freakfest that’s heavily influenced by Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” movies as well as Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!”
Make that a little too heavily influenced.
While the low-budget film serves up a remarkably cost-effective arsenal of wild visual effects, the over-the-top tone gets stale awfully quickly — especially once it becomes clear that it’s all wacky style over any real attempt at substance.
Given that the Lions Gate release is going up against Steven Spielberg’s attacking aliens and George Romero’s venerable zombies this weekend, its theatrical performance likely will be unremarkable, though a more vigorous DVD afterlife isn’t exactly unthinkable.
Set in the fictional sleepy fishing village of Berkeley (actually the Australian state of Queensland), the film follows the exploits of Rene (Felicity Mason), a former beauty pageant winner who decides to leave town and try her luck in the big city.
But her plans are sidetracked by a chain of bizarre events triggered by a meteorite shower bringing on the outset of an otherworldly epidemic that turns the locals into flesh-eating zombies.
Rene takes refuge in an isolated farmhouse (as opposed to those dime-a-dozen friendly neighborhood corner farmhouses) owned by the certifiably gonzo Marion (Mungo McKay), an imposing loner with a couple of mean trigger fingers.
Joining forces with several other refugees, the survivors blast their way through the rapidly expanding ranks of the undead only to come face-to-face with a genuine alien invasion.
Making their joint feature debut after forging a career as commercial and short-film directors, the brothers Spierig also took on editing duties here, but they failed to notice that, at a draggy 100 minutes, the picture exceeds the genre’s ideal running time by an all-too-noticeable quarter of an hour.
The welcome is further outworn by the overly broad performances of many of the cast members, who attempt to mimic Bruce Campbell’s masterfully stylized turns in those “Evil Dead” pictures but end up being merely annoying.