The great thing about taking nothing seriously is the ability to enjoy everything, especially bad movies. The Room, Miami Connection, and a host of others are terrible, but in my eyes they are comedy masterpieces. The same applies to games. Bro Team Pill built his career playing awful video games and unintentionally enjoying them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmG_0bU1I5M). Some directors feel the same way and make films that exemplify the nuances of bad movies. Tarantino, Rodriguez, and Zombie made their money producing homages to kung-fu movies, spaghetti westerns, and exploitation horror. Does Wyrmwood succeed as an Ozploitation homage or is it just a bad movie?
Imagine Planet Terror, directed by Tarantino, no budget, shot in the Australian Outback, and written as homage to not just Mad Max, but classic Romero era zombie movies. That is Wyrmwood, the best recent Indie film I have seen next to Predestination, also made in Australia.
The story follows Barry, played by Jay Gallagher, a mechanic in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. He joins Benny, played by Leon Burchill, and Frank, played by Keith Agius, on a mission to rescue Barry’s sister Brooke, played by Bianca Bradey, from the clutches of roving soldiers kidnapping people for experiments.
It is important to note Wyrmwood is not a parody. It knows what it is, but in a genuine manner. As the story progresses, characters behave as if the horrible violence and existence of zombies are common. They do not take the situation seriously, while also being serious. This makes the movie feel earnest and fun, with a good helping of sardonic, self-deprecating humor, similar to Shaun of the Dead.
As a zombie movie, Wyrmwood cannot exist without comparison to what has come before. Unlike recent installments in the genre, it goes back to the old days of Romero, packed with satire, and punctuated by Mad Max/Ozploitation qualities.
In this world, zombies breathe flammable gas that can be adapted into a fuel source. When the apocalypse occurs, all conventional sources of fuel somehow lose their ability to burn. To run their truck, Barry, Benny, and Frank hook up their zombified friend to a pump that feeds the gas into the engine.
This is a metaphor for resource wars. When we lose something essential to our lives, we fight and use each other to get it back. Wyrmwood takes the same approach to satire as Mad Max, but with zombies, including shades of overpopulation with the symbolic cannibalism of using people for fuel.
The general presentation is a reflection of Ozploitation. With a budget of $160,000, sports pads, airsoft guns, old cars decked out with impractical cosmetics, and great violence, Wyrmwood is a love letter to George Miller and the post-apocalypse like Neil Marshall’s Doomsday. It is a welcome revival of a genre that has been long neglected.
If you want a zombie movie with a fun and original feel, rent Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead on iTunes. Skip Walking Dead this week.