Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

Year: 2014
Production Co: Guerilla Films
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Producer: Tristan Roache-Turner
Writer: Kiah Roache-Turner/Tristan Roache-Turner
Cast: Jay Gallagher, Leon Burchill, Bianca Bradey

Everything about this movie makes it look like it was going to be a gigantic turkey – from dodgy acting and a shoddy script to a cheap production that ran out of ideas quickly and overstayed its welcome.

But there's far more to it than a gleefully manic tone and bucket-loads of outrageous gore. It's hard enough to do anything original (let alone entertaining) with zombies nowadays, but Wyrmwood manages to do it with a sense of fun that's as rambunctious and unsubtle as a shotgun blast through an undead brain.

The story of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse driving through the Australian bush trying to survive indeed has dodgy acting and a shoddy script, but they're part of the bipolar charm of the whole crazy enterprise. It veers between over the top comedy and horror bloodbath, perfectly blending the two and having a story you've never seen before in the bargain.

We're introduced to the cast of characters with a minimum of fuss. Barry (Jay Gallagher) is a mechanic who just wants to be good to his family, but when the virus that descends on the world takes them from him and turns them into just more flesh-eating monsters, he hits the road to save the only family he has left, his make-up artist sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey).

Barry teams up with Benny (Leon Burchill) and a small gang of crazy survivalists and hits the road, mowing down and hacking their way through the flesh-eating hordes to where a mad scientist has Brooke captive, experimenting on her to find a cure for the virus (and enjoying his work way too much) with the backing of the military.

Just like the Spierigs' Daybreakers gave vampirism an interesting and cool new mythology (although it didn't necessarily make that a great film), Wyrmwood does the same through two pleasantly surprising plot devices. First, the poisoned breath of the zombies makes the only effective automotive fuel that still works, but it tends to lose its power at night.

Second, Brooke soon finds that after being injected with infected blood enough times, she can communicate with and control the undead telepathically.

As well as being funny and inventive, both elements fill out a surprisingly rich plot that props up the carnage and laughs beautifully. Endlessly quotable lines like 'come on you dead bastards!' and 'round 'em or through 'em?' combine with some of the most insanely shriek-worthy gore in a long time.

If you're sick of zombies on screens and vow to only give one more movie or TV show a go, make Wyrmwood it.

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