Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Film with Two Names

Warning: Don't click the clips if you are at all squeamish!

Released in the U.S. as Dead Alive, director Peter Jackson's Brain Dead is probably the funniest and without a doubt, the goriest movie, ever made. If you are a movie lover (or even just an occasional fan) you know that Jackson was responsible for the most successful film trilogy of all time, The Lord of the Rings. He also made a brilliant remake of King Kong (though there are some who disagree) and his latest film, an adaptation of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones is due to hit theaters just in time for Oscar season.

But I'm here tonight to talk about Brain Dead/Dead Alive, which may well be my favorite horror movie of all time. Why? Well, let's just say that it is the single most over-the-top horror movie, ever. How over the top? I'll get there.

Lionel (Timothy Balme) is a young Kiwi living with his Mum in 1950's New Zealand. His Mum, Vera (Elizabeth Moody) is the over-bearing sort who keeps poor Lionel under her thumb, despite his best efforts to live his own life. Paquita (Diana Penalver) helps run her family's small grocery store. Her Grandmother (Davina Whitehouse) is a bit of a psychic, who predicts that Paquita will soon meet the man of her dreams. When Lionel comes in for groceries one day, all signs point toward him being the one that Grandma foretold, and Paquita begins to pursue Lionel as any rational young woman might.

Paquita convinces Lionel to take her to the zoo and the jealous Vera follows, only to be bitten by a "Sumatran Rat Monkey." A then feverish Vera convinces Lionel to help her serve lunch to a a couple on the board of the local Society she wants to join, with disastrous results:

Soon, Lionel's Mum is dead. But not for long. After locking zombie Mum and zombie Nurse MacTavish in the cellar, Lionel visits a local Nazi vet for some tranquilizers, hoping he can keep them under control:

Soon, all hell breaks loose as Vera escapes from the grave and starts turning all sorts of folks into zombies. And Lionel's disgusting Uncle Les shows up to claim his share of the family fortune. Naturally, zombie sex leads to a zombie baby, which Lionel for some reason (comic effect, of course), takes to the park for a day out:

"Hyperactive," indeed. After sleazy Uncle Les tries to blackmail him, Lionel cedes the estate. Les, completely unaware of what is actually going on, throws a party which ends up in a zombie massacre the likes of which few movies have attempted to portray:

Brain Dead is most certainly the only movie to feature a self-loving set of mobile intestines. Of course, the above scene also reveals the truth about Lionel's father's tragic death.

But the 'best' is yet to come. Lionel's Mum makes her triumphant return as a gigantic zombie, intent on putting Lionel in his place once and for all - back into her womb! But not before Lionel has dispatched the party zombies with a lawn mower:

I have since long worn out my imported VHS copy of Dead Alive/Brain Dead and replaced it with a DVD. If you've never seen this gem of a horror/comedy, I urge you to do so. Gorehounds, Zombie fans and comedy lovers will adore it; folks with weak stomachs and prurient attitudes will hate it and Jackson fans may be on the fence. No matter what you think about it, Dead Alive/Brain Dead remains the most over-the-top horror movies of all time. Which is why yours truly just adores it. By the way, it also features my single favorite line of dialogue ever written: "Your mother ate my dog!" I seriously would have considered paying to be able to utter that line on film.

More terrors, anon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's in my NetFlix queue.