Known as Dead Alive in North America, Braindead elsewhere
“You know what they are saying about you don’t you? You’ve got funny in the head! A real bloody weirdo!”–Roger, Dead Alive
FEATURING: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin, Stuart Devenie
PLOT: An explorer discovers a Sumatran “Rat-Monkey” on Skull Island; the creature is safely housed in a Wellington zoo. The animal escapes and bites Lionel’s overbearing mother, who becomes a zombie and infects anyone she comes across. Lionel then juggles the advances of the local shop owner’s daughter Paquita and the machinations of his blackmailing uncle with the zombies mounting in his basement.
- Written before the controversial puppet black comedy Meet the Feebles, but filmed afterward. This was the first script co-written with longtime Jackson collaborator and partner Frances Walsh. The story originated with the third credited co-writer, Stephen Sinclair, who originally conceived of it as a stage play satirizing New Zealand society.
- Partly funded by taxpayer dollars through the New Zealand Film Commission.
- The film won Best Screenplay at the New Zealand Film and Television Awards in 1993. It won Best Film (and Best Special Effects) at the 1993 edition of the Fantasporto Film Festival for genre pictures.
- Released as Braindead in New Zealand, Australia, and other countries, but as Dead Alive in North America to avoid confusion with the practically identically titled 1990 horror film Brain Dead (directed by Adam Simon).
- The uncut version was banned for extreme violence in several countries, including Finland, Singapore, and South Korea.
- Came in it #91 on Time Out’s 2016 poll of the greatest horror movies.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: The Grand Guignol finale where Lionel cuts down a horde of zombies with a lawnmower. Three hundred liters of fake blood were used in this scene.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Sumatran Rat-Monkey; zombie baby; the Lord’s ass-kicker
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: From the seemingly benign and placid surface of 1950’s New Zealand society, director Peter Jackson spews forth undead geriatrics consuming German Shepherds, amorous zombies who impregnate each other, sentient viscera, oedipal vaginal imagery on an epic scale, and an inexplicable excursion to the local park with a zombie baby. The invention and gory slapstick of this film are comparable to a Looney Tunes episode where Wyle E. Coyote falls into a spool of razor wire. Or perhaps the antics of and the Keystone Cops defending themselves from an undead invasion after ingesting speed-balls.
Original trailer for Dead Alive
COMMENTS: I fondly remember Braindead from my 1990’s adolescence, days of VHS and weekends spent with friends, trying to outdo Continue reading 268. DEAD ALIVE [BRAINDEAD] (1992)