The late Saturday night film of FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse picks up where things left off for the survivors on the Road of the Dead as screened at the event in 2015, Australia overwhelmed by zombies and the military attempting to create a cure by any means necessary, any civilians who get in their way as expendable as the endless supply of the walking dead.
Reprising their roles from Road of the Dead are Jay Gallagher and Bianca Brady as brother and sister Barry and Brooke, he armed to the gnashing teeth and she a hybrid, part zombie, part human, able not only to moderate her own cravings for flesh provided she receives regular controlled doses of blood but also influence the actions of the full turned zombies around her, while their late friend Benny, Aboriginal bush warrior, is remembered in the presence of his equally capable nieces Maxi and Grace (Shantae Barnes-Cowan and Tasia Zalar).
Opening with the sound of gunfire and inhuman screams, the process of developing a vaccine goes beyond legitimate experimentation to torture, the drug-addled Surgeon (Nicholas Boshier) in his blood-spattered hazmat suit operating without any oversight, answerable only to the Colonel (Jake Ryan), top of the chain of command and enjoying his position too much, ordering his remaining troops to open fire indiscriminately.
Also returning first film is Luke McKenzie playing mercenary Rhys, the twin brother of his character from the first film, a loner living with his weapons in a fenced compound with all the modern conveniences of the apocalypse, using the fumes the zombies exude for fuel, strapping them on a bicycle hooked to a dynamo for electricity, even as sparring partners between field trips rounding up zombies and seeking the elusive hybrid to deliver to his paymasters.
Once again directed by Kiah Roache-Turner from a script co-written with Tristan Roache-Turner, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is gonzo zombie splatter as only Australia could get away with it, seamlessly continuing the style of its predecessor as it barrels down dusty backroads like Wacky Races on nitro, hanging on with dirty fingernails to the tricked-out vehicles with increasing desperation.
A film of blood, sweat, rage, heavy artillery and more than a little profanity, Apocalypse is perhaps not as satisfying as the original, playing comfortably in the established setting of Road of the Dead while not advancing it in new directions, but certainly it does not disappoint and on occasion even surprises with stunning aerial shots of dusk over the Outback far above the action, a very different perspective on a world gone to the dogs.
Wyrmwood: Apocalypse will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 16th May
Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 13th March