Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

WW1

Last night the world ended with a snarl of ravenous hunger, but for one man it’s not over yet, not until he can find the sister he hopes to rescue, not from the roaming undead, but from a crazed scientist intent on discovering the secrets of the walking dead.

Road of the Dead, it kind of has a ring to it. It could mean so many things too. It could be a road used for funeral processions. How metal would that be to have your body paraded down the Road of the Dead? It could all be a stretch of highway prone to vehicular accidents that end in death. That would also be pretty metal, though less so for those forced to travel along its deadly route. There’s also the possibility that it could be a very literal Road of the Dead, as in a road made entirely out of dead bodies. That one might be the most metal translation of all, it would most assuredly smell horrible, but it would be about as metal as you can get when mixing the words road and death together. For this zombie though, Road of the Dead has a very different meaning, one far less metal but much more terrifying than any of the above examples, one every person, living or dead, dreads but must inevitably face down, the checkout line at Walmart.

Our film beings with a man, a man we will later come to know as Benny, telling the tale of how a camping trip he had taken the night before ended with his grandfather half eaten and himself having to put down his zombified brother while attempting to avoid the living dead who were suddenly sprouting up everywhere. He then turns to the man next to him to ask if he’s got a story to tell. The response he receives, “I shot my wife and daughter with a nail gun, not sure how to turn that into a story.” That’s right before we then hear his story. The night before started like any other for Barry, he had dinner with his family, a little shower sex with his wife, and then bed, but that’s when things all went to shit and people began to mysterious turn into zombies, zombies with a strange green mist emanating from their mouths and any wounds on their bodies. Barry grabs his nail gun, some filtration masks for his family, and hops in the car intending to make their way up to Barry’s sister to rescue the poor girl who’s stuck inside a small garage. Sadly, the masks weren’t put on his family in time and both his wife and daughter succumb, turning into zombies that Barry is forced to put down before he turns the nail gun on himself only to find that it’s now empty. While Barry comes to terms with his loss, his sister is picked up by a military unit working for a cruel and twisted scientist who experiments on people to find answers to the zombie epidemic. Barry is eventually found by others who’ve survived and, after overcoming the strong desire to end his life, makes the decision to live on if for no other reason than to save his sister, a sister he’s unaware is currently being used for experimentation. His journey leads back to the beginning of the film, with Barry and his new friends sitting around a warehouse trying to figure out what they’re going to do since whatever event created the undead has apparently neutralized the world’s fuel supply. It’s here that the group make a startling discovery about why the undead leak the green mist, a secret that could lead to Barry being able to save his sister.

WW2{When dealing with the undead, dress for success}

I’ve actually been waiting, rather impatiently I might add, for the chance to see to Wyrmwood. I first came across it while scrolling through a video on demand service some months ago and was immediately attracted by both the premise and the cover, the latter of which seemed reminiscent of the Mad Max films I grew up loving. Watching the preview only cemented by desire to see it, showing a film that most assuredly had a Mad Max feel to it, only with a little more quirkiness and comedy. All the components were in place, an apocalyptic scenario with few human survivors, action packed car chase sequences, a modified, kickass vehicle, and gun toting characters scavenging what they can for defensive outfits that somehow ended up looking rather intimidating. I was stoked to see it, but I made the mistake of not watching it then and there. When I went to go look for it again, it had disappeared from every video on demand service I frustratingly checked meaning I was going to have to wait until it came out on DVD before I was going to be able to watch it. You better bet I was at the video store the day it came out, ready and waiting to see it. Thankfully, Wyrmwood was worth the wait, giving me everything the preview promised and more.

WW4

{I need this car for dealing with traffic}

The film’s amazing writing was the first thing that caught my attention, it was well written in nearly every aspect, the story, the dialogue, the humor, and the characters. They did an excellent job with the movie’s story, lining it up with many other zombie flicks in that it is about the initial zombie outbreak and a few members of the living trying to survive, but manages to keep things fresh by not only adding some strange elements to their zombies, i.e. the mist that comes out of their mouths and what it means for the survivors, but sending those survivors on a rescue mission instead of having them merely trying to stay alive. Not only that, but they made the characters on both sides of the zombie apocalypse interesting, and when I say both sides I mean those trying to rescue Barry’s sister and those protecting the madman experimenting on her. You will come to love characters like Barry and the ever positive Benny while coming to hate the twisted doctor and his military commandos. One of the things that made them so interesting is how they gave each of the main characters different quirks that helped cement them as being actual people instead of just zombie fodder, there solely to play a part and then get eaten. The mad scientist is fleshed out as a severely twisted individual though little things like his preference to dance to his favorite music while working, but shown to have a lack of confidence as evidenced by the ability of the soldiers under his command being able to intimidate and bully him, Frank, one of the people that help’s out Barry, is presented as a mostly laid back but still tough as nails character up until his backstory is presented and you realize he’s got a much softer side to him, and, my favorite one in the bunch, Benny always manages to find something to smile about, no matter how bad thing would get. There was so much detail put into crafting these characters that they ended up having a great deal of depth to them, even the smaller roles that don’t factor in too much still have details added to them so that you never feel that a character was added just so the audience could watch someone else get eviscerated.

WW3{The doctor is one twisted son of a bitch}

Then there is the film’s cleverly written, offhanded humor that made Wyrmwood a comedic film while not making it a straight up comedy. It is definitely funny, there’s no doubt there, but it’s not meant to be a comedy, and that’s a very fine line to walk, one that takes some real talent to do correctly, otherwise a film like this tends to fall apart. Thankfully, it’s very well done here, and I found myself laughing in between my gasps at the more serious moments. The humor is interspersed enough that it doesn’t get tiresome, remaining an enjoyable addition to this zombie flick. The dialogue only adds to this with some clever back and forth between some of the characters, most notably Benny, who in this humble zombie’s eyes had the best lines in the flick with his never ending ability to find a bright side, no matter how tenuous, to everything happening around him. It was a great mix of fear, shock, and comedy that at times was blended together into perfection (like Barry and Benny gasping at a body that was held in the freezer only to reach past the nearly frozen zombie for the beer underneath him).

WW5{I would love to have a beer with Benny}

The effects are spectacular as well, for the most part. You can expect quite a lot of gore in Wyrmwood, and blood flows liberally throughout the film. I’ve always been a gore hound, so I love some good, visceral carnage, and Wyrmwood did not disappoint. There was some truly talented work put into crafting gory effects, and I loved most of it. Why most instead of all? Well, despite ninety percent looking amazing, I did catch the occasional use of CGI blood, something that is a personal pet peeve of mine, even more so when it’s used in a movie that showcases amazing practical effects work. I will simply never understand the use of CGI blood when it always looks so absolutely terrible, especially when the rest of the effects work is expertly done. There’s also the silly looking contacts used for the zombies which are becoming more and more common place. The makeup work is phenomenal, but the almost glowing eyes of the zombies was a turn off for me.

WW7{Otherwise known as raver eyes}

That being said, I would still highly recommend this movie for any zombie fan with its use of a Mad Max style mixed with clever humor and lots of gory goodness. This is one you aren’t going to want to miss.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Kiah Roache-Turner (War Games, Roadrunner)

Starring: Jay Gallagher (Roadrunner, War Games), Bianca Bradey (Wrath, House of Sticks), Leon Burchill (Stoned Bros, The Forgotten Men), and Keith Agius (Ruin, Project Top Clown)

Written By: Kiah Roache-Turner (War Games) and Tristan Roache-Turner

Released By: Guerilla Films, IFC Midnight, Studio Canal, and Scream Factory

Release Year: 2014

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Rotten Heads: Four Heads Out of Five

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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