Reviews
Undead or Alive (2007) 1 brain
(USA)

Sometimes a movie has its flaws but you can appreciate the effort. Sometimes a movie is bad in amusing ways. And sometimes a movie just astonishes you with its badness. The thing is, in concept, Undead or Alive could have been a good film. Then they signed on Chris Kattan. It went downhill from there. Kattan plays Luke, a lovelorn cowboy, but he's really playing what Kattan plays in every movie, an overly emotional, annoying guy thrust into a situation where he's out of his depth. And of course, there's a really hot woman that inexplicably falls for him no matter how weirdly or stupidly he behaves.

I have to admit, it wasn't all Kattan's fault. The same person that wrote the part of Luke, possibly with Kattan in mind, also wrote the rest of this uninspired farce. As I said, the concept is good. Before being killed by the US Army, the legendary Geronimo places a curse on the white man, starting a zombie plague among them. Ground zero of the curse is in a small Western town where a sherrif has locked up a mysterious stranger and a local cowboy for fighting in a saloon. The stranger, Elmer (James Denton), and the local, Luke, manage to break out of jail and flee, and then they stick together when they realize there's something funny going on. On their travels, they run into Geronimo's niece, to whom Geronimo described the curse and its effects before he was killed.

The majority of the humor is based on Luke, who spends most of the movie trying to act like a macho cowboy and failing miserably. When he's not doing that, he's screwing things up, sobbing about something or other, or mooning after Geronimo's niece Sue (Navi Rawat). Luke is supposed to make up for his shortcomings with his sincere sweetness, but it comes off as creepy and unbelievable, like when he gives Sue a locket of himself and his beloved horse less than a day after meeting her, and she accepts it, realizing that this is someone she could love. Sue, of course, is a liberated Native American woman who was sent to a New York boarding school when she was young but now roams the west in spike-heeled boots and sexy clothes, and knows martial arts. I'm not making that up.

Denton does what he can with the script, but really should have been in a better movie. Rawat can deliver her lines well enough, but not for a minute does she seem like anything other than a home-grown L.A. starlet. And Kattan, well, he was paid to be Kattan, which by now he has down-pat. What it really comes down to is that other than a few brief moments of genuine wit, the script just can't deliver the goods.

Some reviewers have said that this is just camp, and should be appreciated as such, but to me, this movie has too much wasted potential to be true camp, like Plan 9 from Outer Space, and isn't self-aware enough to be artificial camp, like Army of Darkness. It's just badly written, badly casted, and badly executed.