Very recently I re-watched a great zombie film, one that I had kind of forgotten about. Peter Jackson's 1992 film Dead Alive (as it was released in America, or Braindead in its home country of New Zealand) is often called the goriest film ever made! Even if you're not a fan of horror films or zombie movies, most reader's will know Peter Jackson as the mastermind behind the Lord of the Rings films. And knowing Jackson as the man who brought Tolkien to the screen, it is hard to imagine that he is also the creator of something like Dead Alive.
Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.
That's not to say Dead Alive is a bad film, by any means. Low budget by today's standards (made for three million), it's very much a "90's film." I remember being young and going to the video store (when people still went to video stores) and although my parents would never actually let me rent one, I'd always browse the horror section, looking at all the covers. In particular, I distinctly remember the cover for Dead Alive. And while it is a memorable cover, it really has nothing to do with the movie.
Essentially, this film is a zombie movie. The beginning of the film shows men smuggling a caged animal off of "Skull Island" (yes, the same island as in King Kong, another later Jackson film). The location of Skull Island will look familiar to LotR fans-- it is the same place used to film the Paths of the Dead in The Return of the King. When the animal bites one of the men, it is obvious this is a bad thing. His companions immediately dismember and decapitate him to stop the spread of whatever the bite contains. Eventually, this animal, the Sumatran rat-monkey, makes its way to a zoo.
You can probably guess what happens next... the rat-monkey bites the domineering mother of the main character. She slowly turns into a ravenous zombie and in turn makes others zombies as well. And that's when the fun really begins! The faithful son tries his best to keep them locked up and fed, but it doesn't go so well. Two zombies end up having sex and produce a zombie baby (a very humorous part of the film), a whole party is turned into a horde, and eventually the mother turns into a giant zombie monster! The most well known scene involves a lawnmower and lots and lots of blood... one trivia fact says the fake blood was pumped at five gallons per second!
I wouldn't say there is anything groundbreaking about this movie. No deeper messages, no hidden meanings. It's just a good fun zombie movie. It's hilarious (on purpose) and deserves to be watched! Just make sure you have a pretty strong stomach... I can handle a lot of gore, but upon re-watching this, there were many parts where I felt like I was going to be sick! You have been warned...