Sorry for being MIA with a post last week. August has been filled with tons of running around with little to no rest in sight. But as they say, no rest for the wicked. When I did find a handful of minutes to crash on my couch, I tuned into Netflix and the main advertising banner displayed Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. As exhausted as I was, I hit play in lieu of searching for other content and here’s what I discovered.
After hearing the grisly details of Benny’s (Leon Burchill) first encounter with the living dead, Barry (Jay Gallagher) sidesteps telling his own tale because it wouldn’t make much of a story to tell. With his own trauma at the hands of the undead behind him, Barry and his fellow survivors prepare to hit the road to reach his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) before it’s too late. What Barry doesn’t know is Brooke managed to survive the rising swarms only to be captured by soldiers and brought to the Doctor (Berynn Schwerdt); a fate seemingly far worse than being consumed by undead masses. The Road of the Dead doesn’t seem like a path you’d take for a family reunion, but it’s the only route with answers on how to survive this insane new world.
Wyrmwood is the directorial debut of Kiah Roache-Turner who also co-wrote the script with the his brother Tristan. Their film hit the festival fall of 2014 and premiered in the US in early 2015. It now resides on Netflix where I predict it will find a massive following as the brothers prepare to pen the sequel.
Before you ask, yes it is very sequel worthy. Billed as Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead, Wyrmwood does not disappoint fans of either franchise. Following a strange meteor shower, meat-gnashing undead appear in droves. The blood of those infected seem to transfer the disease to others, except in the case of Benny, Barry and Brooke. There marks the beginning on the divergence from the mythos established by Romero nearly fifty years ago. The other variation is that automobiles stop working around the same time the undead begin to rise. Frank (Keith Agius) explains that gas has lost its flammability. As the group sit stranded with in a garage with a horde of zombies clamoring to get inside, they realize the zombies emissions can be used to fuel the defunct vehicle.
Enter the film’s Mad Max element. Actually, it’s a bit reminiscent of the A-Team and MacGyver also. The guys rig up a gas extraction appartus, attach it to their truck, then armor and weaponize truck with the junk laying about like a gas-powered mega-harpoon. They suit up in post-apocalyptic armor and take their zombie slaying on the road.
To keep things interesting, events do not happen as smoothly as explained. Meanwhile, Brooke hangs from the Doctor’s hook as he gleefully draws blood from and injects blood into zombies, her, and his other prisoners. It’s sort of a depraved rave party the Doctor’s holding as he mixes and extracts chemicals to his music shuffle.
The Doctor with his twisted experiments and the men in their death machine are two stories destined for a ugly, bloody collision course. Wyrmwood doesn’t disappoint, and continues to impress with fresh takes on the well-worn zombie genre. My only complaint are the rutting pig sounds used to voice the undead masses. Aside from that quibble, I’m itching to sit down with friends and give Wyrmwood another spin or maybe two.