Monday, September 5, 2011

Undead or Alive

That just ain't right.
The zombie comedy was first made popular by 2004's Shaun of the Dead, and while nothing has really quite matched it to date, Undead or Alive does a respectable job and has the added bonus (at least in my books it does) of taking place in the Old West. And while I would have preferred zombies you can kill with a bullet to the brain, the fact that these zombies are still coherent and can crack a joke occasionally works for the movie.

Can I offer you some delicious brains?
So the film starts off with exposition about how after warring with the US Army for many years, the Apache warrior and medicine man Geronimo performs as one of his final acts the White Man's Curse. That is put to the side after we see our first zombie attack so that we can meet Elmer Winslow (James Denton) who rides into town and gets into a fight with Luke Rudd (Chris Kattan) and the two are arrested and robbed by the corrupt Sheriff Claypool (Upright Citizens Brigade Matt Besser). And who is that in the cell next to them but our zombie patient zero (Brian Posehn) who is scheduled to be hung for eating his family. Well our heroes escape from jail, tying up Claypool's deputy Cletus and leave him against the bars of the cell, and rob Claypool of his ill gotten funds and ride out of town. Meanwhile, our zombie friend takes a bite out of Cletus since he was oh so conveniently left in convenient biting distance, and then Cletus bites Claypool when he frees him from the cell he was left in. Claypool hangs patient zero (who doesn't die from said hanging creating a B-plot to check in on occasionally during the movie as the zombie plague spreads through the town) before he forms a posse to go after Elmer and Luke and rides out after them, and as the curse begins to turn Claypool and Cletus, they in turn convert the posse into the living dead. Elmer and Luke meanwhile meet up with Apache warrior Sue (Navi Rawat), who just so happens to also be Geronimo's niece, who agrees to lead them to the nearest Army Outpost. Cue chase to outpost and big zombie fight.

Overall this is an amusing movie with some nice moments. I felt that more could have been done with the character of Sue since she seems to be there for only three reasons: exposition, T&A, and as an amusing plot device (it happens right near the end and the way that it is handled made me laugh out loud). James Denton is an absolute treat as Elmer, providing the perfect straight man for Chris Katan's Luke who was a little to zany for my tastes here. Overall, a decent movie with enough laughs to make it worth it.

Rating: B-


  1. First, just so I'm clear, you don't consider either of the first two Return of the Living Dead movies or Chooper Chicks in Zombietown comedies? Additinally, I'd say at least the first RoTLD was as popular as Shaun of the Dead

    Second, I hate Chris Kattan. I despise the mere fact that he and share the same plane of existence. That said, I did see this about a year ago. I'd agree with the B-. it entertains without straining the brain.

  2. And there goes my brain failing me again. You are right about RoTLD and Chopper Chicks being comedies, but I still think that they were zombie movies with just a dash of comedy thrown in where Shaun of the Dead really made a comedy that just happen to also be about zombies.

    As for Chris Kattan, I think that he has made some poor career decisions that led him down a different path than his former SNL costar Will Ferrell. In the right moment, Chris Kattan is extremely funny. He just doesn't seem to know when that moment is generally.