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Undead or Alive
Genre Western
Year: 2007

The recent success of mainstream movies like Shaun of the Dead has sparked a zombie revival. However, the much talked about “zombedy” has to strike a fine balance in order to be taken seriously by zombie movie fans. Undead or Alive seems to tick most check boxes on the zombie side of things, but doesn’t really have much ammo when it comes to comedy as two cowboys become partners, only to discover that they’re being pursued by zombies infected with Geronimo’s curse.

Chris Kattan from Saturday Night Live and movies like Corky Romano plays Luke Budd, the broken-hearted, hapless sidekick. He’s got the t-shirt, but his camp comedy in Undead or Alive doesn’t measure up to Martin Short in the Three Amigoes. One could attribute this to the material, but he’s got enough room alongside straight man and action hero, James Denton as Elmer Winslow. The unlikely heroes take their unusual partnership on the road and run into Sue, Geronimo’s daughter played by Navi Rawat. The whole movie is laid on the foundations of Shaun of the Dead and progressively moves towards a basement shoot out. The film-makers clearly set out to make a low budget “zombedy” and to this end they succeeded.

Undead or Alive is similar to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead in terms of budget and subject. The mix of gore and comedy isn’t mainstream yet, and is an acquired taste for most newcomers. Undead or Alive just spices things up by placing zombies in a Western setting. The film has parallels with Bravestarr (without the technology), and the evil Sheriff could easily be based on the Marshall’s nemesis, Tex Hex. Undead or Alive takes a buddy film, puts it in the Wild West and adds zombies. The formula works in the cult frame of reference, but isn’t good or bad enough to become a cult classic. The make up is average, the wardrobe is camp Western, the gun fighting isn’t much of a spectacle and the comedy is situational. Undead or Alive is a B-movie of the same stature as Tremors 4: The Legend Begins. You may recognise TV actors Leslie Jordan and Brian Posehn from shows like Will & Grace and Just Shoot Me, but that’s as far as it goes.

The gore factor is satisfactory and there’s enough blood and guts to keep the hardened zombie fans happy. The brainsucking and decapitation is infrequent, although there’s enough dark comedy to go around. The movie cuts to the chase quite quickly, gets zombified and comes down a few hundred corpses and one or two chuckles later. This is the sort of bad movie that you rent because you want to laugh at how bad it is. It’s not nearly as “bad” as anything from Ed Wood, but makes great popcorn entertainment.

The bottom line: Flatlined.

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