REVIEWED
12/15/02

STORY



LOOK

Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
Director: Peter Jackson
Year: 1992
TRT: 1:37


Wow. This movie still amazes me every time I watch it. First off, it's a great film from a variety of different aspects. This tops my list as the goriest film ever made (let me know if I'm wrong, I'd love to be proven otherwise). But that really isn't what makes this a killer movie (eh, well, er...). It's a lot more accomplished in a lot of ways than Jackson's previous 2 films, because despite all the crazy shit going down, it really does have some great camera-work, and sticks to the overall plotline. It is a story of true love, after all. Basically it follows the trials and tribulations of a sheltered son for his horrendously domineering mother. After she is bitten by a rare breed of rat monkey, she turns into a zombie and wreaks havoc by creating more zombies. All the while, the distraught and now lost son must try to keep some semblance of normalcy while continuing to care for his undead mother and the zombies she has created herself. Uh, well, there's a lot more demented shit going on, this is just something you have to see for yourself to believe. If you enjoy the opening sequence, you'll like the rest of the movie. Did I mention it was pretty gory?

What makes this such a good movie? Mainly the look and the flow. There are some great things done throughout the entire movie that makes it more than your average gore fest, from camera angles to character expressions to transitions (like following a bodiless head kicked from one point of action to the next, and a door swinging open to knock it right back to its original position). Great stuff. The gore is just "for affect." But the thing that I enjoy best about the film is the feeling of authenticity it has. Yes, believe it or not. The main body of the story takes place in 1957 New Zealand, and the film has been done in the same fashion as if it were shot then for your classic 50's Saturday Night horror film. I would almost prefer to not see the opening sequence before the titles to see how the story plays out from there, but alas, it's a key scene that sets up the rest of the movie (and done very well to boot...Zsinguya!). It goes totally deranged pretty quickly, but never loses the time-period aspect to it. And the characters help round it out, from the hesitant Jughead-like main character who's lived a totally sheltered life under the protection of his mum, to the sleaze-ball uncle, to the zombie ass-kicking priest who is has some pent up issues that are released after becoming undead, to a Nazi-in-hiding working as a veterinarian.

Story-wise, the overall plot is quite good looking at it from the 50's standpoint. Sure, it's a bit hokey, but the majority of scenes really are played out in a darkly humorous kind of way without ever being tongue-in-cheek. The only big scene that really doesn't fit quite right is the 'day in the park' sequence. It's fuckin hilarious, but out of place, nonetheless. As for the look, it really is amazing to see how well they pulled off the majority of the scenes. There are two that aren't quite up to par (the stop-motion rat-monkey and the final confrontation with mum), but, well, cripes! It ain't no "Lord of the Rings."

Great Scene:The ass-kicking priest beating the living (undead?) shit out of some punk zombies is pretty good, there are several more through the whole movie, I can't say there is just one. It's part of what makes this such a good, gory romp.

Extra Notes: Word of warning: there are two cuts (at least) of this film out there, the "Unrated" version and the rated "R" version. I've never been able to raise enough courage to actually see the "R" rated version to see how it's been butchered (haha, see the movie & the Uncle Les scene with the cleavers). Maybe one day...NOT. The DVD is nicely done with the menus, unfortunately the only 'extra' included is the trailer. I'd love to see some footage on the shooting of the film itself, it had to of been a blast (at least for everyone who wasn't covered in massive amounts of fake blood, which, come to think of it, probably weren't too many people by the end of the show. Nevermind.)