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Dead Alive – Review

Dead Alive – Review

Jan 24, 2010

reviewed by Noch
directed by Peter Jackson, 1992
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Long before esteemed director/producer Peter Jackson was making big budget wide released films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and even the Frighteners, he was cutting his teeth on lower budget gems. Some of the better known of these movies are Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste. However my favorite from this era of Jackson’s career hands down is Dead-Alive.

Due to some apparent license troubles the film’s original name “BrainDead” was not available for release in the North American markets had to be renamed. Whatever it is called, this movie is a fantastic Laugh out loud splatterfest that is sure to keep you entertained.

Dead-Alive is the story of a very sheltered young man named Lionel, who is very much oppressed by his overbearing and slightly evil mother Vera.  Lionel is forced to do everything for his mother, cook, clean, take care of the lawn, polish the silverware even when there is no apparent need. Naturally Lionel has no apparent friends or life other than taking care of his mother.

Elsewhere in the town, a young Latin girl Paquita is working in her family’s store and has a crush on a delivery driver who comes in. Paquita’s grandmother notices how the girl is swooning over the young man and offers to have a tarot reading from her to find out who Paquita is going to Marry. Much to dismay of the young girl, the cards do not predict the man who is being currently swooned over and she forces herself begrudgingly back to work. Then in walks Lionel, who is not treated very well by the upset girl until a sign in some spilled impulse buy items lets her know that Lionel is actually the one she is going to have a romance with.

Paquita then comes up with an excuse to personally deliver Lionel’s mother’s order to the house and tricks Lionel into agreeing to go on a date to the zoo. Not known to the couple, Vera is watching the whole thing and decides to spy on her son.

Everything goes well during the date for the couple and they start to kiss, which greatly angers Vera. Suddenly she is bitten by the Sumatran rat monkey which she then batters in a very disgusting matter. Lionel notices his mother and takes her home.

Over the next couple days the mother progressively gets worse and her wound never heals. While in a near death state, she hosts a dinner party which goes horribly wrong and has one of the most stomach turning scenes I can recall seeing in a movie. Eventually Vera becomes very sick and dies as the nurse is trying to send her to the hospital. Vera has then fully become a member of the living dead and kills the nurse. Lionel promptly has two hide both zombies in the basement and pretend to Paquita that she’s simply “off to hospital”.

This is where the real fun starts. Lionel keeps losing control of the zombies and it becomes harder and harder for him to keep his little secret under wraps. All of this results in more and more people becoming the undead.

During this film, no topic is too taboo or farfetched. Ever wondered what the entrails of a zombie will do when removed from the rest of the monster? You can find out here. Want to know if zombies have a libido or could get pregnant? This is explored as well. All of this crescendos into the most impressive blood bath I believe I have ever seen in a movie. According to IMDB in one impressive scene blood is pumped out at five gallons per second all the while, body parts and chunks are flying everywhere.

I still recall the first time watching Dead Alive. It was one of several films on a tape a friend let me borrow so that I could see Evil Dead II. Out of curiosity I started watching the other films. This is by far the most memorable on the tape. From the first scene when the Rat Monkey is being removed from the island and having the natives chopping up the zoo keeper to prevent “Zingiah” to long after the movie was over discussing the unexpected pleasure we just watched with a friend, I had a big smile on my face.

Dead-Alive deserves a spot high in the all time ranks of horror comedies.

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One comment

  1. Great review. Fun, fun film. I was already long a Jackson fan by the time this arrived, and it did not disappoint.

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