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Road of the Dead

wyrmwoodWyrmwood is the advertised Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead mash-up from writers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner, with Kiah also directing. The story is about a virus that ushers in the zombie apocalypse. Amidst the chaos of roaming packs of flesh eating zombies in the Australian Outback, a mechanic named Barry (Jay Gallagher) is looking for his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey), who was kidnapped and experimented on by a deranged mad scientist like doctor.

The opening scene is bloody and tone setting and shows a rag tag group dressed in worn out and beat up sports gear like helmets, shoulder pads, and hockey masks. The group comes out fighting zombies looking like Slipknot on a battlefield.

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As the story is set up. and the virus descends upon the living, we see a number of people turn into zombies. One in particular will leave it’s imagery in my mind for a long time. The photo shoot sugar skull zombie is fantastic and terrifying, a maniacal bloodthirsty thrashing rag doll of fury and color — one of the most memorable zombies I have ever seen.

When it comes to the zombies, the sound is very effective and haunting. This isn’t the clogged up, blood rattled dry wheez breathing of “The Walking Dead”. It’s an all out siren scream that sounds like a drowning horse being ravaged by a pack of animals. It’s disturbing and unnerving… and freaking awesome.

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The lab where Brooke is held hostage is portrayed like a house of horrors come to life. We see grisly and gut covered computers and keyboards, human experiments, and zombies restrained to the blood soaked walls angrily wiggling and fighting to be free. All of this mayhem is overseen by a disco dancing deranged doctor.

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Jay Gallagher shows shades of Bruce Campbell from The Evil Dead movies in his performance sometimes, and it meshes greatly with the vibe of the movie. One scene in particular has his face sprayed and covered in blood, and I couldn’t help but think of Ash fighting the Deadites. There’s even a scene when Gallagher loads up a gun and says, “Fuck yeah,” that is seemingly his version of Campbell’s “Groovy”. Don’t misread here though. It’s an overall serious portrayal of a grief stricken man who lost his family to the virus, and he does a great job here.

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I haven’t even gotten to Bianca Bradey yet. While she spends the majority of the movie held hostage in the house of horrors lab, she makes the most of her screen time. Even tied up in the lab, her stare alone is enough to knock you out. And her icy cool delivery of lines like, “You want a zombie? I’ll get you a zombie,” turned me into an instant fan. She is a powerful screen presence and has one hell of a commanding aura about her. Her role here reminded me of another great performance I saw recently, Nicole Alonso in Crawl or Die.

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‘Wyrmwood’ reportedly took 4 years to make, being filmed on weekends and around everybody’s work schedules. It sounds like a draining and daunting task to take on. But the end result is a damn awesome movie that is one of the best zombie movies to be seen in years. I loved ‘Wyrmwood’. I loved every minute of it. This movie is a horror fans dream. It’s the kind of movie you want to make with your friends: a brilliant love letter to horror that also stands strong as it’s own story. ‘Wyrmwood’ also manages to add a new twist to the zombie mythology that worked beautifully in the world of the film.

Do yourself a favor and watch this immediately, and then watch it again with all your friends. The movie is loud and gritty, colorful, fast, and a bloody good time. Movies like this is why horror fans are horror fans.

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