Dead Alive AKA Braindead 1992 Movie Scene Timothy Balme as Lionel standing in the middle of the bloodbath he made with his lawnmower

Braindead AKA Dead Alive [1992]

Dead Alive is a horror comedy that’s so over-the-top that even those who don’t like watching these sorts of movies will love it. It’s full of this vibrant energy that’s just so damn infectious! If you’re feeling down or moody, just play this movie and you’ll liven up. Something which won’t be so surprising when you find out who the director and writer is. Before he went on to direct The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson made two splatter classics. Bad Taste and the movie we’re going to be talking about today. Both of them are horror/comedies with insane amounts of blood and gore. 

Actually, the gore was so over the top that the British Board of Film Classification seriously considered granting it a “15” certificate. Just think of The Evil Dead trilogy, especially the last part, Army of Darkness. And then multiply the amount of comedy and gore by a factor of ten. Because there are so many funny situations involving blood, decapitated heads, bile, and puss, the pacing of this movie is really intense. And all of this is happening in well-lit rooms, unlike other movies where you have to imagine those sorts of things. 

It’s a roller-coaster ride that will satisfy even the hardest horror fans. Since its release, Dead Alive has become a cult classic and was often cited as the bloodiest and goriest movie ever made. And to that, I would also add the title of best horror comedy ever to grace the screen. There’s so much stuff crammed into this little movie that you’ll keep coming back to it for years. Plus, it’s really funny, especially with that thick New Zealand accent. It’s just so adorable.

It is the year of our lord Satan 1957 and smuggler Stewart McAlden just stole a Sumatran Rat-Monkey from natives of Skull Island. The abomination came into existence after rats carrying plague raped some monkeys. The monkey ends up at Wellington Zoo in New Zealand. Fast forward 35 years and meet Lionel Cosgrove, a shy guy living with his domineering mother in a huge mansion. When he falls in love with a local girl, his mother does not approve of this. She follows them on their date, only to be bitten by that damned monkey. Soon, she will start to exhibit the signs of illness and Lionel will have to make some hard decisions…

Those fucking Sumatran Rat-Monkeys, am I right? They’re always causing havoc wherever they go. Creativity is bursting from every element of this movie making it one of my all-time favorites. It’s still my go-to movie if someone starts talking about horror comedies worth watching. The best thing about Braindead is its naivety and natural approach to storytelling. The main story is actually quite sweet, with clumsy Lionel trying to score without his mother’s approval. You kinda feel for the guy. Zombies having sex, ninja priests, and baby zombies are all here, don’t worry.

Exactly this strange mixture of the easygoing main story and extreme violence is the thing that makes Dead Alive so goddamn fun. Without apologies or holding back, Peter Jackson just powers through the movie with intensity and conviction. Just imagine what would happen if we funded these young creators all over the world. Timothy Balme was phenomenal as our likable protagonist Lionel along with charming Diana Peñalver. Balme feels like a more innocent version of Jeffrey Combs from Re-Animator.

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers: Stephen Sinclair, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson

Cast: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin, Jed Brophy

Fun Facts: During the lawnmower scene, movie blood was pumped at five gallons per second.


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