Alien Undead (a.k.a. The Dark Lurking) is the latest release from UK distributor Left Films. This film is an export from Australia, set in a version of the future focussing on a research facility where the focus of said research has gone catastrophically wrong. The film opens with a distress call from a team within the research station. As the presumed headquarters listen to the dying cries of their colleagues, red lights flash and each character wears an expression somewhere between fear and confusion. This sets the tone for the ninety minutes to follow.
To give credit where credit is due, Alien Undead has been created from what is pretty much a non-existent budget. I have developed somewhat of a soft spot for Left Films, as they are distributing some interesting work, particularly for the horror fan. Not all films can secure the funding they deserve, and those which make the most of what they have and make it work are a joy to watch. On the other hand, money isn’t everything. Without the foundations of the film in place, the highest budget conceivable isn’t going to rescue it.
Connors has worked some magic with the budget; in particular the alien monsters are absolutely grotesque and never look cheap. The monsters are imaginative as well as otherworldly, with copious amounts of flesh, blood and gooey substances secreting constantly. This is a really nice surprise, but may also be the reason other areas are desperately lacking.
The story, characters and script can occasionally cause us to throb in aguish. The story is like old, hairy Blu-Tac attempting to keep the film together, and though there are some vaguely interesting ideas, it is nothing that hasn’t been seen before. More excruciating though is the acting and dialogue. There’s no point singling out specific names, as each of the characters the actors have been given are literally pieces of meat wondering around to be brutally attacked by gruesome monsters. As the group of survivors come together, there are times when the acting experience echoes watching someone else’s child in a school play. The dialogue is wooden and contains too many gaping pauses, and it quickly becomes difficult to watch. The actors all appear to be attempting to frustratingly ‘stand out’. This comes in many forms, some using exaggerated physical actions, pausing in dialogue or just putting unnecessary emphasis on every word they have been given. All of which drags the film into an unforgivable position.
The overall outcome of Alien Undead is hugely disappointing. I have a lot of respect for all those involved pushing ahead despite the lack of funds and sticking to a storyline which would traditionally require a financial backing to keep the concept from slipping into complete farce. Story, characters and dialogue could have done with some serious development time, but considering the tiny budget, the cast and crew have achieved a great deal and the alien monsters are unforgettable.
Alien Undead is available on DVD now – order it here.