Cool creature effects from the team behind Matrix Revolutions, Troy and Ghost Rider
can't rescue what is otherwise a stunningly hit-and-miss motion picture.
which has also been exhibited under the name The Dark Lurking,
mostly works when the film is focused on its horde of terrifying zombie-like creatures. In fact, while Alien Undead
certainly wouldn't be a home run film under any circumstances it'd be a nice solid double if the audience could be left merely to admire the film's tech credits. In addition to the fine special effects, D.P. Dirk Foulger (also in the cast) does a nice job lensing the film, Dwayne Nicol's production design accomplishes quite a bit with the modest, at least by sci-fi/horror standards, budget and Kit Sivyer's original music goes along with the film and helps to build the excitement.
Unfortunately, Alien Undead
is not a silent film and while the production crew doesn't let down writer/director Greg Connors his cast seems to subscribe to the idea that shouting equals suspense and shrieking equals horror.
It doesnt. And it doesn't.
The story involves eight people at a secret underground research facility who are trapped by the aforementioned zombie-like creatures. Some sort of ancient evil has been unleashed and, thus, the zombies are mutating. Our eight individuals, we should call them stereotypes, are basically without hope as they have no supplies, hardly any weapons and virtually no chance of rescue. Ultimately, our very different survivors must learn to set aside their differences if they have any chance of getting out alive.
Of course, there's a catch. One of them isn't quite what they seem to be. (cue evil laugh).
Connors certainly amps up the action in a film that intertwines Alien, Evil Dead
and a few other films but without the success of those other films. While the campiness of the film is a bit much at times, it's also clear that much of the film's irreverence and camp is a sort of homage to other similarly themed films.
Were I not a regular critic for ultra-indie productions, it would likely be a lot easier to buy into Alien Undead
given the expense involved in creating convincing special effects. Unfortunately, I am a regular viewer of films on budgets as low as a few hundred dollars. So, while this film existed on a mere $1,000,000 ... certainly no grand amount, there's little denying that MUCH more could have been accomplished with the funds available.
has been picked up for a DVD release by U.K.'s Left Films, and the packaging includes right around 240 minutes of materials including a behind-the-scenes documentary, concept art and a bonus short film called "Netherworld" that's definitely worth checking out.
Fans of indie and low-budget horror will find aspects of Alien Undead
to get into and will definitely have to admire the quality work of a special effects team that is obviously used to working with a lot higher budgets. For more information on Alien Undead,
visit the Left Films website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic