WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD **** Australia 2014 Dir: Kiah Roache-Turner 98 mins
A major calling card for co-writer / director Kiah Roache-Turner, this opens on a stark and serious note with mechanic / family man Jay Gallagher watching as his wife and daughter are infected by a fast spreading zombie virus before being forced to nail gun them to death.
Subsequently, it turns into a disarmingly enjoyable apocalypse buddy movie as Gallagher teams up with Benny (Leon Burchill) in a bid to rescue his abducted sister from the clutches of ominous gas-masked soldiers and a deranged doctor conducting dubious experiments….all the while combatting an onslaught of high-energy zombies. Extremely well shot and directed, WYRMWOOD is frenetically paced and doesn’t stint on splashy exploding heads but most importantly it offers likeable characters and an array of novel riffs on familiar zombie territory. Roache-Turner nails the tonal juggling between humour, horror and pathos while capturing a distinctive look and feel that’s indebted (but not overly so) to MAD MAX. The clever original twists include a key character with the ability to control zombies and the use of the zombies’ post-mortem emissions as fuel (“This truck runs on zombies…”). Gallagher has a pleasing Bruce Campbell vibe, complete with frantic tooling up montage capped by a snappy mutter of “Fuck yeah!”, while the delightful Burchill steals every scene he’s in (“I can’t hold a gun and my massive cock at the same time!”).
Review by Steven West