Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movie Review: The Quick and the Undead (2006)

The Quick and the Undead
Western Horror Hybrid THE QUICK AND THE UNDEAD by Gerald Nott

Written & Directed by Gerald Nott

Clint Glenn...Ryn Baskin
Nicola Giacobbe...Hans Tubman
Parrish Randall...Blythe Remington
85 years ago, a viral outbreak turned three-quarters of the population into the walking dead. Those of us who survived had to take up a new trade. That's how the hunt began.
...or so goes our alternative history lesson. It's the Wild, Wild West all over again, only instead of the White Hats versus the Black Hats, it's the living versus the undead, as professional bounty hunters form posses to collect the government-issued reward for each re-killing.

Our hero is one such bounty hunter, a loner named Ryn Baskin doing his best Clint Eastwood impression (if Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name shopped at Hot Topic, that is). He is sold out by his simpering 'Chummer' Hans, shot and then left for dead by the members of his former gang. But in a world where no man stays dead for long, Ryn is a man who won't even die to start with, and so he heads for the distant Union City, utilizing Hans as a guide-on-a-leash, in order to dish out some good ol' fashioned Old Testament justice.

The interesting thing is that the zombies aren't really the bad guys here. They're merely set dressing, obstacles that Ryn has to overcome in order to get to the true villain--Blythe Remington, the leader of the bounty hunters that tried to kill him. Think a less-talented Dennis Hopper circa Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and you're on the right track. Not only is Blythe a murderous little bastard, but also a bastard so greedy that he's willfully spreading the zombie infection in order to have more undead to cash in on!

For a low-budget picture, it actually comes across pretty well on a technical level. It has good camera work, eschewing the hand-held shaky-cam that has become all the rage, although it does suffer a few periodic pointless camera tricks that low budget filmmakers use to make their movies appear more visually interesting. It was also competently scored by Brian Beardsley and Pieter A. Schlosser, although I would have appreciated a bit more of a spaghetti western influence on the soundtrack. The zombie effects were passable but not spectacular, somewhere between Halloween masks and the old oatmeal-on-the-face trick.

The pacing was a bit slow at times, and it definitely could have used a few extra action scenes peppered throughout the running time, but all in all, it was a fun little flick. The filmmakers are obviously fans of both the horror and the western genres, and they get kudos for combining the two pretty successfully. Zombie films are ideal for low-budget movies, but writer-director Gerald Nott went the extra mile and made it a zombie period piece...sort of. It takes place in the future, but it looks like the past.

If you pop this one in your DVD player, and you see where it says "NOTT ENTERTAINMENT", don't immediately hit 'eject'. This is only the name of the production company; It is not a critical evaluation.

78 Minutes
United States

Personally, I'd kill the rotting ones first. They have more experience.

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