Friday, March 5, 2010

'Dead Alive': Bloodiest move ever made?

Dead Alive (aka "Braindead") (1993)
Starring: Timothy Balme, Diana Penalver, Elizabeth Moody, Stuart Devenie and Ian Watkin
Director: Peter Jackson
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Lionel (Balme) is a gentle, kindhearted young man who is suffering under the thumb of an abusive, evil mother (Moody). When he falls in love with Paquita (Penalver), a young gypsy girl who works in the local town market, it looks like things might get better for him. But then his mom is bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey and becomes infected with a disease that not only reanimates her when she is died, but makes her crave human flesh. Anyone she bites then also becomes a flesh-eating zombie. Lionel's quiet life of torment eventually becomes very loud and very bloody.

"Dead Alive" is one of the goriest movies ever made. Do NOT expect to eat dinner while watching this film (as I tried to do). It will definately spoil your appetite.

And even if you don't lose your appetite, you'll be too busy laughing as the mayhem and madness spirals out of control, as Lionel's troubles expand from his zombie mother, to her plus one animated victim, to her plus four animated victims, to five flesh-hungry zombies and the zombie baby that results from zombie amour, to an entire house-party of flesh-hungry zombies!

With a level of crazed humor that's only been equelled in horror comedies by "Evil Dead II", and a level of cartoony gore that I don't think has been matched anywhere, this is one movie that I think has something for every horror fan. There are even a few in-jokes for the hardcore movie geek to pick up on. It's further strengthened by the very likable heroes of Lionel and Paquita, a pair whose romance the viewer wants to see succeed.

The only complaint I have with the film is that Lionel's motivation is a bit unclear early in the film. I don't understand why he collects the zombies in his basement instead of just calling the authorities. I understand he initially is protecting his mother, but things get so out of hand so early on that it challenged by ability to suspend my disbelief that he didn't throw up his hands and call for help. I know there wouldn't have been a movie if he had, but the Stupid Character Syndrome that infected the movie in that respect bugged me.

Still. I recommend you check out "Dead Alive", particularly if you're a fan of "Army of Darkness" or "Evil Dead II". See it for the incredible levels or gore, see it for the crazy humor, see it for the zombie-baby-goes-to-the-playground scene, see it for the love story, or see it for the Anglican priest who declares, "I kick ass for the Lord!" as he opens a can of Martial Arts Whoop-ass on some marauding zombies... but see it!

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