The movie I’m about to review is gorier and funnier than a Sam Raimi movie. I kid you not. And it was directed by the man who headed the unbelievably involved “Lord of the Rings Trilogy“. That’s right people – Peter Jackson directed a horror movie! 1992 saw the release of “Dead Alive” (also known as “Braindead”), a movie which I should have seen years ago. I have no idea how I’ve survived for so long without seeing this film.
The movie opens with an anthropologist and his helper carrying a wooden box through a jungle. The man helping the anthropologist keeps advising against the transport of the thing inside. When the natives of the region catch up to the two men, we find out the the box contains a dangerous species of monkey. While trying to flee, the anthropologist is bitten by the “Sumatran rat-monkey” and it is suspected that he is infected. Toute de suite he is dismembered. After little discussion between the anthropologist’s helpers, it is decided to send the monkey to America anyway, and they reap the monetary benefits.
The rat-monkey finds itself in a zoo, where mamma’s boy and perpetual nebbish Lionel is on a date with his girl Paquita. True to form, Lionel’s mother is spying on them, and she accidentally falls backwards onto the cage with the Sumatran rat-monkey (I really love that phrase!) It tears into her sleeve, and she becomes infected. Lionel spends the rest of the movie first trying to take care of his soon-to-be-zombie-mother, and then trying to fight off the horde of zombies after he looses control.
There was only one part of the movie that I took issue with: a sex scene between two zombies. Sorry people – I’m just not a fan of necrophilia in any form. Even if it does produce a fugly zombie baby that advances the plot.
Now on to the good bits! The gore was super inventive and realistic. It ranged from dismemberment and arterial spray to pus and removed teeth. The gore became excessive, but not really boring. It seems Jackson can always find a new use for some extra blood and gristle. Which brings me to my reaction to the movie – while I’m usually a wuss about certain kinds of gore (think all the “Saw” movies), there are some things which are surprisingly hard to handle. There is a scene where a certain amount of puss lands into a certain food and is consumed. I paused the movie and ran out gagging. It took a good solid five minutes before I could go back to the movie. And then a few other things happened with that food. Apparently I won’t be eating anything of that persuasion for awhile now.
The music was cheesy and carnival-esque, and the acting wasn’t the best either. However, I think those elements combined to create a rare kind of movie. “Dead Alive” seemed to joyfully mock the zombie culture, while at the same time creating something of value and interest. I strongly encourage everyone who likes zombies to watch this twisted classic (don’t plan on eating before, during, or after the movie…you will retch. I’m not being a drama queen!) “Dead Alive” is definitely not your grandparent’s zombie flick!