Most zombie films, like George A. Romero’s, want to create a theme of how zombies symbolize consumerism, racism, or even class structure. They are films with a message, with a solid story (for the most part in Romero’s film outings) and gore to go with it. But, in other cases, there are zombie films for the sake of creating scenarios where the grossest thing imaginable will occur. This is what director Peter Jackson believed in his first outings as a director, create a gore filled fun time at the movies. Let the audience squirm, scream, and laugh all at the same time, and that’s what his 1992 film Dead Alive set out to achieve; A gross-out horror comedy that should not be missed for lovers of horror and splatter films.
Like the ongoing idea of creating a horror concept, it’s all about escalation. Directors, especially ones who are creating a small budgeted film like Jackson at the time, never want to let the cat out of the bag early. It’s all about the set-up, and how the film can top itself next. Jackson understands that for his film to a tee with a intense opening sequence that pretty much gives viewers an idea on how bloody and off-the-wall the film will be, as well as make way for central character Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) and his Mum (Elisabeth Moody). From there, the horrifying consequence that the opening brings comes to Lionel’s door, resulting a terrible zombie mess that only he can clean up. Oh, and he finds romance with a random cashier (Diana Penalver), but that’s no big deal.
All that needs to be said is that Peter Jackson must have went to his crew and make-up department, exclaiming “Let’s just throw everything and the kitchen sink”, and his crew all cheered and went to work. I imagined that scenario because the love, hilarity, and sequences that occur in this movie seemed to have this confidence to be cemented in horror movie history. Almost anything heinous and revolting that you can think can occur in this film will pretty much happen in this film, and it’s only 104 minutes.
The acting is simply second nature in this type of film. Most of the actors feel like this is their first movie, and they make the most of the roles. The central performance is the lunacy and gore that gets put on the screen. All the zombie sequences are just tailored made for the audience to have their mouth drop, or just a “okay, I’ll go with this” type of surreal action sequence that pops up in around the middle act of the film. But, then the final act occurs and there’s a bit of that engine running out in the insanity, Jackson just goes for the bold and creates another never-before-seen moment to keep the energy high and vital.
Dead Alive (aka Braindead) doesn’t try to match the satire and wit of Romero’s zombie films, but it doesn’t want to. It just wants to create an off-the-wall zombie film that ratchets u[ the insanity until it puts out everywhere, making a messy, gory, hilarious time. Throw this on your Netflix like I did and be prepared to see why this zombie film is known as one of the goriest films of all time!