Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 65 Minutes
Audio: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Naoyoshi Kawamatsu
Cast: Tomoka Asano, Tatsumi Ishihara, Yoshito Kobashigawa
Indie Japanese zombie film Undertaker (2012) begins with a brief opening setting up the character of Ryouichi, a young boy caught up in an initial viral outbreak that is spreading throughout Japan turning people into flesh-eating infected. The young boy ends up alone after the opening events and winds up working as an apprentice of sorts for a heavy-set woman who turns out to be an "undertaker", which in someone hired by families to track down their infected loved one to kill them, offering a bit of closure to grieving families, bringing them a recognizable body part, usually the head, as proof that the deed has been done.
The timeline moves ahead a few years and now a bit older Ryouichi is an undertaker on his own, tracking down the desired undead through the apocalyptic ruins of Japan, carrying with him a bad-ass modified shovel for a weapon. At just barely over an hour long the film is short on plot but delivers on some touching quieter moments that add poignancy to the proceedings, with some very cool and gruesome practical gore FX, some of which are truly stomach-churning. A personal highlight is a zombie found at the mall that's leaking some sort of viscous ocular
fluid from it's destroyed eye-sockets, so gross.
This indie film is a quiet sort of zombie movie, not a film that concerns itself the larger picture of a widespread apocalypse, it's a smaller story with only few living characters and not a lot of narrative meat on it's bone, but it's an interesting meditation on the undead that offers some cool visual storytelling and some great looking zombies.
Audio/Video: Undertaker (2012) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from synapse Films in 1080p HD framed in 1.78:1 widescreen. Not sure what the source here is but it looks to be digitally-sourced and not shot on film. It has an ugly desaturated color palette that renders it near monochromatic. Occasionally it looks a bit janky like there's a frame-rate issue or bit of digital conversion weirdness, it's not filmic looking to be sure, but I don't think this is a transfer issue but more a 2012 digital production issue. That aside the fine detail looks solid in close-ups, the desaturated colors look consistent and blacks are reasonably deep throughout for a very low-budget indie production from '12.
Audio comes by way of Japanese language DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo with optional English subtitles. It's clean and well-balanced, while a lot of the film is eerily quiet there are moments when the stereo track springs to life.
Extras include a nearly hour-long making of doc, a 4-min trailer, deleted scenes, an image gallery, and a 20-min short film about a haunting that looks like it was shot on a VHS camcorder, but that burgeoning talent shows through.
The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork, not sure of this is a new illustration but it looks pretty cool.
- Farewell to the Precious: The Making of Undertaker (56 min)
- On Your Back – Original Short Film (20 min)
- Deleted Scenes (1 min)
- Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery (57 Images)
- Trailer(4 min)
Synapse Films are not an outfit known for releasing a ton of contemporary films, so when they do it's something notable. In the past they've offered up stuff like the French sci-fi horror film Resonances (2006), South of Heaven (2008), Worm (2013), all cool indie films, and now we have Undertaker (2012), another indie offering something unique, something cool, and something well-worth checking out. It's not polished or insanely gory, so it's not gonna be for all tastes, but it's a cool indie meditation on the zombie apocalypse.