Saturday, January 19, 2008

Undead Or Alive (2007)

Damn, these guys beat me to the punch. I've been kicking the idea of a zombie western around for a while now. My picture would center around your standard "old west" town infected by your run of the mill outer space zombie plague. It would feature typical characters from western lore; saloon keeper, whores, lawmen, a preacher, a doctor, etc. In addition, it would also feature two legends of the west, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Finally, we'd learn how their story really comes to an end. I've already pictured the final confrontation between Garrett and zombie Billy, scored to Dylan's "Knockin on Heaven's Door" (likely covered by some unknown band). It would have been glorious and, I must add, played COMPLETELY straight. Perhaps, after a few years have passed, and the taste from Undead Or Alive has been warshed away, I might git back to it.

I'm sorry if I made this thing sound terrible. It's not. Really. Ball cancer is terrible. Undead Or Alive is just not what I wanted out of the first Zombie Western. First of all, it stars Chris Kattan (Corky Romano). It's pedigree isn't all bad I suppose. The writer and director, Glasgo Phillips, was a staff writer on South Park. Navi Rawat (as Sue the Apache) was in Feast. Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Show) gives the film's best performance. Too bad he was a zombie the entire running time. The opening credits were nice, ripping off The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly by being shot off the screen. Too bad Morricone didn't provide the music, which was consistently bad in this thing. It ranged from early 90s adult contemporary (think Richard Marx) to cow-punk (think Meat Puppets, but only if they sucked).

I'm beginning to hate opening crawls, especially in comedy/horror films. This things got a doozy. It goes on and on about Geronimo who as "the most legendary defender of Native American Sovereignty" put a curse on all white people before he died. This was known as "white man's curse". The crawl is interrupted once, with the line "don't worry. the point where you have to read is almost over." It's gets funnier when, later in the film, zombies are referred to as "Geronimos" or, even better, "Geronimonsters". Of course they wouldn't be zombies, since they didn't exist yet.

The pre-title sequence, was my favorite scene since it involved my favorite character, Ben (Posehn). He's already a geronimonster at this point, but his family just think he's drunk. Again. Stumbling around, kicking at a chicken just like he always does until he bites the chicken's head off (which of course, drops to the ground and runs around. headless. haha).

The main players are Luke Bud (Corky Romano) and outlaw James Denton (Desperate Housewives) as Elmer. They're introduced to each other after sharing a jail cell. In the adjacent cell is Ben, taken in for sucking out his families brains through a straw. The Sheriff is the evil type played by Matt Besser (Upright Citizen's Brigade). He's provided some choice lines such as "say another word and I'm gonna shoot that jaw off your face. Then I'm gonna take a shit in your chin hole." Clearly, my second favorite character. His deputy is fittingly named Cletus and of course falls asleep when he's supposed to be watching the prisoners. Jailbreak ensues. Luke and Elmer make off with some money. Cletus and the Sherriff are bitten by Ben. In a funny scene, Ben is hanged for his crimes and we get to see what happens when you lynch a zombie (sort of). The Sheriff forms a posse to go after Luke and Elmer. That Posse soon becomes a zombie posse. Yada Yada Yada.

It may be a zombie-ridden Old West, but we've still seen most of this before. Navi Rawat then shows up as Geronimo's niece Sue and joins forces with Luke and Elmer. While I thought she was fun in Feast, she was out of her league in this one. She just didn't seem that into it. Nor did she show us her tits. In fact, the only tits we see in the whole danged thing are gernonimonster tits. Still, Rawat's appearence, does lead to a few funny exchanges between Luke and Elmer:

Luke: Do you think she likes me?
Elmer: I don't know. You never can tell with an indian.
Luke: Heck, I can't even tell with real people.

One thing I give the picture credit for is not going all CGI on their effects. As far as I could tell, with the exception of the headless chicken, everything was practical. Real makeup. Real decapitated heads. Well, not REAL heads, but real dummy heads. There's an amusing scene when our heroes herd a bunch of zombies like cattle. I liked the bond between Luke and his horse, Frisky. He even has a locket with both of their pictures, facing one another. Predictably, Frisky doesn't make it through the entire picture. Tragic scene, undercut by Elmer later, inadvertantly, using Frisky's leg to pack a cannon.

I'll be honest here. This thing reminded me of Almost Heroes. Remember that compulsively watchable film starring Chris Farley and Matthew Perry as explorers competing with Lewis & Clark? This has a similar tone and look. Which is to say, not really funny and pretty poorly shot. Yet, I still can't stop watching. If I'm flipping channels and come across Almost Heroes, I'm leaving that thing on until the end or at least the next commercial. The only difference is that this picture's got zombies and Chris Kattan, instead of Farley. And, I guess Denton instead of Perry. Also, Rawat instead of that other girl.

I liked a scene when Elmer got into an argument with Sue about white people and their contributions to Native American culture. "Before (white people) got here you was just a bunch of savages in diapers dragging your shit around with sticks and blankets." You know, I never thought about it like that. It made me completely forget Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

Conveniently, Sue is periodically remembering various aspects of her Uncle Gernoimo's curse. First, Gernonimonsters can track by scent. Later, she remembers that they never give up on their prey. Later still, she recalls a cure. You have to eat the living flesh of the medicine man who made the curse, but that doesn't help because he's long dead. Or, is there another way around this problem? The movie provides this answer in a wicked twist, an ACTUAL laugh inducing moment. Can you figure it out?

Undead or Alive is a diversion. I'll leave it at that. It caused me to laugh out loud maybe three of four times, which is more than I can say about most films. Towards the end, when death seems iminent and Corky turns to Sue and says "I want to have your half breed babies" I blew some soda out of my nose. It's almost worth it for that scene alone. The final scene, is a touching one, when we go back to my favorite character, Ben. He has reunited himself with his family not by being decapitated (which is the only way to stop a Gernonimonster) but by digging them up and setting them free.

Seriously, I'm all zombied out. How am I going to muster the energy to see Romero's Diary of the Dead? This is nothing more than a low rent Return of the Living Dead, minus the apocalyptic ending. Even the zombies, sorry Geronimonsters, talk in this one. Had it been played straight I might have enjoyed it more. I wonder what Geronimo would say if he saw this?


elmo said...

Chris Kattan really should fake his own death and return as a meta-peronality, like Borat or Steve Colbert. Or Chris Kattan.

steve said...

All zombied out??? But what'll become of your inevitable review of 'Black Sheep'???

brian said...

Steve, I think you may have missed this from a while ago.

brian said...

Don't worry Steve. I could NEVER really be "all zombied out". I'll keep on keepin on...

Sam said...

Good god, Chris Kattan! The most irritating SNL cast member since Rob Schneider. (Was Rob Schneider in this movie, by any chance? Teri O'Sheri?)

brian said...

Nope. Surprisingly, this film is probably beneath them.

elmo said...

Teri O'Sheri is incandescent in Southland Tales.

Karen said...

How did I miss this one? This looks friggin' incredible. Thanks, Brian

brian said...

No problem Karen. Glad I could help. After you see it and realize how terrible it is, just don't complain to me.