Poston’s Picks on Netflix: “Undead or Alive” brings zombedy to the Old West

Staci Poston, Managing Editor

“Undead or Alive” (2007) is one of my favorite zombie movies ever.  It’s right up there with “Zombieland” but not as campy.  And this western/comedy/horror act-ually has decent acting; if anything, it’s the storyline that’s questionable.  It is definitely outstandingly cheesy, but in a good—even endearing—way.

The opening of the movie recounts the story of Geronimo vs. the U.S. Army.  According to the movie, Geronimo made some “bad medicine” called “The White Man’s Curse” before his death.  This curse leads to the zombification of the white men (and women, and even a dog) of the Old West.

I always enjoy cowboys getting badass with guns.  And, like all westerns (and a good bit of horrors), one of the first good scenes is in the jailhouse.  The sheriff is a filthy-mouthed (and I mean NASTY) saloon-owning jerkoff.  His sidekick (because all good villains have one) is a fat, stupid, stinky-footed, boot-stealing deputy.

Their interaction with each other is juxtaposed with the camaraderie of the two protagonists, Luke and Elmer.  Elmer plays his character straight; he’s just an army deserter trying to get on with his life.  Luke, on the other hand, has horribly corny lines that wouldn’t be believable at all if he didn’t embody an eager-to-please worrywart so well.  Luke is, as Elmer so kindly puts it, “just a broken-hearted cowboy that don’t know his ass from a bag of sweet potatoes.”

Luke and Elmer are soon sighted by a super-hot Native American girl who, despite her stereotypical garb, is apparently straight out of New York boarding school.

At this point, the movie begins to address the underlying story of people being driven off of their land, stereotypes and racism, and forceful Christianization by missionaries.

This is humorously but aptly demonstrated in an exchange between Luke and the Native American girl.

Luke asks, “What’s your name?”

She replies, “Sue.”

He says, “Like Sioux Indian?”

She drily responds, “Like Susan.”

Sue then schools them on being ignorant bastards.

Lo and behold, as per usual in zombie flicks, the protagonists discover that they need to aim for the head.  However, apparently head-shots don’t work on this particular brand of zombies.  Decapitation does seem to do the trick, though.

Luke takes a shovel to the zombie’s neck in a manner reminiscent of how we kill snakes in Effingham.  But the zombie’s neck is bigger than a snake, so he has to jump on it a little bit.  Amazing.

This movie made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt and I cried a little.

The movie was rated R for language, gore, violence and one instance of zombie boob.  Another highlight includes a zombie swordfight.

A large element of the movie’s cheese factor comes from its slightly campy soundtrack.  It was very upbeat, modern, and pretty catchy.  However, it didn’t really mesh with the setting of the movie.

There was a slight misbalance between comedy and horror.  The movie leans more towards the comedic side, but isn’t straight camp.  However, ultimately, you can’t take a movie seriously if it has a blooper reel after the credits.