Undead or Alive

4 out of 13 nots.
for bad zombies, worse jokes and even worse music

So, a little over a week ago, I decided to sign back up with NetFlix, which I had canceled a while back just because the wife and I were watching so much TV and buying so many movies that we never had time to watch our rentals.  Now with TV in flux and not buying movies, we’ve got time… plus, since we use a PC to watch TV anyway, it gives us a great way to take advantage of the movie streaming available from NetFlix.  Furthermore, as I work from home most days, it also gives me an opportunity to stream movies I might otherwise never see to my other laptop while I slave away on program code.

And this is how I came to watch Undead or Alive, a zombie western comedy.  It was… bad.  The zombies were corny and goofy, the jokes were lame (in fact the movie never crossed the line from “mildly amusing” into “funny”), all in all not really a good film, or even a good bad film.  Don’t see it.

More after the break…

I should have known better when I saw the movie starred Chris Kattan, but I was lured in with the promise of a zombie western comedy.  To ruin the plot… Geronimo, before he died, put a curse on the white man, zombies.  Jump to know where an army deserter and a hapless (hopeless) cowboy get into a fight and wind up in jail.  In the next cell is a man being held for hanging for having killed his wife and daughter, and eaten them (hint: he’s a zombie).  The two reluctant partners escape, leaving the deputy to be bitten by the zed, who then bites the sheriff.  The two lawmen hang the original zed and then head out of town with a posse to find the fugitives.  The original zed, not being dead, attacks once they cut him down and the whole town turns to zombies.  Meanwhile, the two escapees have a run in with a boarding school educated Native American woman, who happens to be Geronimo’s niece out hunting the plains for the army men who killed her uncle.  They convince her not to kill them or leave them to die by the army deserter saying he can lead her to the men.  Over with the posse, the sheriff and his deputy attack the other men making them all zombies.  Back to the fugitives, they wander around a bit and for some inexplicable reason the hapless cowboy and the Indian girl seem to be flirting… then stumble onto the posse and shoot them, only to find out shooting them does do any good anymore.  They run… right into an army search party, that happen to belong to the group they are looking for AND is being lead by the guy the deserter swindled out of some cash before he deserted.  They arrive at the army fort only to find the fort is all zombies.  The three amigos trick all the zombies into getting outside so they can close the gate and be safe inside… except for that one zombie they didn’t see, and that other zombie they didn’t see, and those two other zombies they didn’t see, and that last zombie they didn’t see.  Somewhere during all this they learn that cutting off the head of zombie kills them, but shooting them in the head does not, however you can cure a zombie if they eat the flesh of the shaman who cast the curse.  So, the zombies organize and break down the door, the good guys run, find a cellar full of explosives and a tunnel leading away from camp.  The deserter gets bit and volunteers to stay and blow up the other zombies… only he doesn’t, he runs a fuse down the tunnel, runs into and bites the hapless cowboy who stayed behind to see if the deserter really did get the curse, they light the fuse and blow up the other zombies.  Now safe, but curse, the two meet up with the Indian girl who charges to kill them… black… fade in… the two are on horseback, not cursed, and the deserter explains that eating Geronimo’s niece cured them, and they ride off into the sunset.

Now, to be honest, that plot outline, in and of itself, is not actually that bad.  Done as a serious zombie flick, that would actually be pretty cool, except the Indian curse and the cure part.  Here though, played for jokes, its just not good at all.  My summary there doesn’t have any of the jokes, and with good reason, they weren’t very funny.  All in all, this movie makes me want to write a good zombie western script.

One thing that really made this movie awful though was the music.  Something I have noticed about most low budget films, especially comedies, is that when it comes to music they usually get a band, likely the failed rock band friends of someone in the production crew, and they write a song that uses the name of the movie in it, and that song is predictably terrible.  The movie is then scored with variations of that horrible song, and if we are lucky they’ll have another bad song or two thrown in as well.  In this case, yes, there was a sort of country rock songs entitled “Undead or Alive” that I am sure was supposed to be zany funny, but it wasn’t.

Anyway… I suppose if you can see it for free, and you have a desire to watch bad films in order to learn what not to do, the movie is not a complete waste of time.  But under no circumstances should you pay money to see this movie.

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