Let’s be honest : when it comes to balls-out post-apocalyptic action, few people can do it like the Aussies. This fine cinematic tradition dates all the way back to George Miller’s original Mad Max, and continues in fine form to this day not only with the recently-released Mad Max : Fury Road, but with last year’s much-more-modestly-budgeted indie feature Wyrmwood : Road Of The Dead (or, as it was more simply titled for theatrical release in its country of origin, Wyrmwood), a true labor of love shot on weekends over a four-year span by co-writer (along with his brother, Tristan)/director Kiah Roache-Turner that one-ups Miller, at least on a purely conceptual level, by throwing zombies into the mix, as well.
When the infection (and by the way, kudos to the Roache-Turners for adding the cool effect of having their undead breathe a sort of greenish gas) hits, hard-working mechanic and family man Barry (Jay Gallagher) has to do the unthinkable : kill his own wife and daughter. But he’s still got one reason to live — he needs to rescue his sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradey), an internet bondage-porn videographer who had one of her “shoots” go really wrong and ended up in the hands of quasi-governmental military thugs employed by an honest-to-god mad scientist known only as “The Doc” (Berynn Schwerdt) who makes Richard Liberty’s lab-coated goofball in George Romero’s Day Of The Dead look positively tame by comparison.
Barry’s got some help in the form of sure-to-be-audience-favorite Benny (Leon Burchill), and aboriginal survivor who he meets when — ahhh, shit, the less said about that the better — but there’s a whole outback full of zombies between the two of them and their hastily-assembled ragtag crew and Brooke and and her batshit-crazy captor.
Can you say “bad times ahead”?
Fortunately for us all, in a flick done right like this, bad times also mean very fun times (at least for us), and Wyrmwood : Road Of The Dead is pedal-to-the-metal insanity from word “go” to word “stop.” Sure, there are plenty of gaping plotholes along the way (the most notable being that the whys and wherefores of how the “zombie mutation” spreads are unclear and/or completely random at best), but so what? You need to slow down to think about those sorts of pesky details, and if there’s one thing the Roache-Turner brothers don’t do, it’s take their foot off the gas.
That’s entirely as it should be, I think, since they know that what we’re here for is blood, guts (in this case a mix of CGI and practical effects, both utilized in superb fashion), guns, and cool-ass homemade survival armor and battle vehicles — and hey, they serve all of that up by the truck-full. The story might be as brainless as the shambling corpses it features, but that’s all part and parcel of the fun here, and if you can’t stop taking yourself so fucking seriously for 90-or-so-minutes, then you’ve got no business watching a flick like this in the first place.
If you do want to watch it, though — and you should — the good news is that Wyrnwood : Road Of The Dead is now available on Netflix instant streaming, as well as on Blu-ray and DVD from Shout! Factory. I caught it via Netflix myself so I can’t comment on the specifics of the physical storage-format technical specs or extras, but a brief glance at Shout!’s website is enough to convince me that they’re put together a typically impressive package. Given that this is a movie you’ll probably want to watch again and again over the years, buying it doesn’t seem like a bad option at all.
In fact, I may just do that right now. The term “instant classic” gets thrown around a bit too freely for my tastes, but this bears all the hallmarks of being exactly that.