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Dead Alive (Unrated) (Sp) (1993)

A horror film directed by Peter Jackson

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Proof that "Rings" director Jackson isn't "Braindead"

  • Dec 11, 2004
Look up the word "disgusting" in the unwritten Book Of The Cinema and you'll find that the definition is "Peter Jackson's 'Braindead'". I don't know how else to introduce the picture other than to say that it is believed to be the goriest film ever made, and that it is considered by many to be the best zombie (and even horror in general) film ever made.

The film revolves around Lionel (Timothy Balme), a kind-hearted and loyal young man forced to take care of his wicked old mother (Elizabeth Moody). When Lionel meets Paquita (Diana Penalver), a girl working at a local shop (who has been foretold that Lionel is her destined love), a romance blooms - angering Lionel's mum, who proceeds to follow the couple on a trip to the zoo. The story goes from sunny romance to pitch-black horror in an instant when Lionel and Paquita stumble across a bizarre creature in the zoo: the rare Sumatran rat monkey, a vicious little beast with taste for flesh. In the film's first bloody scene - enough to get the film an "R" rating already - Lionel's mum is bitten by the rat monkey.

Naturally, being the very loving son he is, Lionel takes his sick mother home and gives her his undivided attention. That night Lionel is visited by Paquita, and for a while Lionel forgets about his mum or anything else.

From then on Lionel's life becomes a living hell. First, his mother dies. Then, she is resurrected as a zombie and begins losing clumps of skin and an ear. This doesn't seem good, especially when a respected couple arrive for dinner. Soon, friends of the family are bitten, or just nibbled on by Lionel's mum - and so they find themselves brainless, undead creatures as well. Then some of the kind local citizens - including a priest who "kicks ass for the Lord" - are zombied. Finally, most of the town has become zombies. Things aren't looking good for Lionel, who's trying to keep the whole thing under wraps - pretty much literally.

How much gore could a horror film have if a horror film could have gore? I don't know, but I'd say "Braindead" is about the limit. People whose stomachs aren't made of rock should steer clear of this film, or any of Jackson's earlier pieces for that matter. Luckily, I was prepared for the gory festivites after watching "Bad Taste", but even then I was surprised when - three minutes into the film - a man finds both his arms and, ultimately, his head cut off in an unflinching scene which gives you no time to blink. If there ever has been a more gory, disgusting, sick film that "Braindead" (or "Dead Alive", whichever you prefer), I've yet to see it.

For example, in one scene, Paquita and Lionel hear Paquita's dog bark and attack Lionel's mum. Rushing upstairs, they find Lionel's mum looking sick. Lionel goes to her and removes one of the dog's legs from her throat. (In case you haven't noticed, this is one of the most disturbing scenes in the film) "Your mother ate my dog!" Paquita screams. "There's still some left," Lionel replies. We pull back and find the room splattered in blood, with hairy remains on the bed.


"Braindead" is rated highly most everywhere I've seen it reviewed, hailed by horror fans as a masterpiece. It is constantly competing with films like "Evil Dead II", "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead" for superiority in the "Best Zombie Movie Ever" category. I'd say it comes pretty close too. The film's nightmarish, unflinching atmosphere is something entirely unique to Peter Jackson. The acting is terrific - you feel exactly what you're supposed to feel when you're supposed to feel it. The score, by Peter Dasent, is also very fine, and gives the film a mischievous, comedic mood.

"Braindead" is Peter Jackson's pre-"Rings" masterpiece, and one of the greatest horror films ever made. If you, a) have a very endurant stomach, b) call yourself a horror fan, and c) haven't a fear of rat monkeys, then this is the film for you. No horror moviegoer should go without seeing it at least once.

Sometimes eerie, frequently funny, and always gory as hell, "Braindead" is one sick film.

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More Dead Alive reviews
review by . August 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    I love blood. I love guts. I love gore. I love anything (artificial) that flows in large amounts, even if we aren't speaking of bodily fluids. But if we are, then movie blood is what I always crave. The more the merrier is my motto when it comes to such a thing. I'm not easily offended or shocked by movie violence; and in the case of features like "The Evil Dead" and its sequel, the grotesque becomes the darkly comic and absurd. Peter Jackson apparently loves …
review by . December 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
   DEAD ALIVE (a.k.a. “Braindead”) is directed by Peter Jackson; yes, the same dude who won Oscars for his terrific adaptations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson’s 1992 horror comedy has the elements that can attract the horror fan; loads of gore and buckets of blood. It also pitches in a nightmarish vision of childbirth all the while injecting the film with a dark, wicked sense of humor. Hey, the film also makes a great date movie since it does have a very heartwarming …
review by . May 23, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
In a film like DEAD ALIVE, the plot is basically pointless. The only reason it exists is to add some humor to the bloody gore-fest that erupts and since it's discussed so often, it isn't necessary to repeat again. Basically, there will be two reasons you would want to see DEAD ALIVE. The most obvious reason is if you're a fan of movies with a lot of blood, guts, and gore. DEAD ALIVE is the goriest film of all time (the lawnmower scene alone takes at least five minutes). For example, people are literally …
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Tom Benton ()
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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The grossest movieevermade, this quintessential splatter film details the tender story of a henpecked boy, his overbearing mum, and a nasty little Sumerian rat-monkey that turns people into voracious zombies. In lesser hands, thisne plus ultraviscera-fest would be so disturbing as to be nigh-unwatchable, but the incredible energy and imagination of director Peter Jackson makes it a first-class guilty pleasure, with plentiful helpings of gallows humor (the scripture-quoting, kung-fu-dispensing priest is a highlight) and a taboo subtext that Sigmund Freud would have loved. Essential viewing for gorehounds and anyone else with a high tolerance for flying entrails. The director would later tone down the gore (but not the manic enthusiasm) for the sublimeHeavenly CreaturesandThe Frighteners.--Andrew Wright
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Director: Peter Jackson
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Vidmark / Trimark
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