The Australian film ‘Wyrmwood’ has been a stand out zombie movie of the past year. Its title suggests the origin of the apocalypse – a meteor shower. After it passes, only a small portion of the human race is found immune to its transformative effect. This difference piques the interest of scientists, one of whom is prepared to include the immune in his experiments looking for a cure.
The central characters are a brother and sister, both immune. The brother, played by Jay Gallagher, is the quintessential road warrior with access to armoured vehicles al a Mad Max. His artist sister, played by Bianca Bradley, turns out to be the surprise badass saviour of the world through powers brought about by the meddling mad scientist. No wonder reviews have commented that this movie breathes life back into the zombie genre.
Not all reviewers have picked up on the laconic Aussie overtones. Although the movie is action packed and entertains the whole way through, it really doesn’t take itself too seriously. Otherwise why would there be a guy dressed in a Ned Kelly suit facing a zombie horde? The inclusion of an Australian Aboriginal actor, Leon Burchill, is also noteworthy, and the pairing of his and the brother’s character is a mainstay of the movie.
The movie is a dream realised by a pair of brothers, Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner. They grew up with the original Mad Max movie, hence the subtitle ‘Road of the Dead’. The Roache-Turner brothers had a choice of putting a deposit on a house, or making a movie they would love. They chose the movie. However the pooled $160,000 didn’t go far. Fortunately Screen Australia and a Kickstarter campaign meant filming was completed. Still this meant working over weekends for 3 years while trying to leave something for post-production worthy of the project.
The Kickstarter campaign sold the right to be a zombie for $500. However some of the excellent cast and crew signed on with the understanding they would be paid when the movie finally made money. The movie has been well received and so successful in that respect. Perversely, its popularity has also meant it has been extensively pirated. Hopefully there is enough to pay everyone who put their time in up front, as well as for a deposit so Kiah and Tristan can finally get that mortgage. There have been rumours of a movie sequel, or even a TV series, but nothing firm.