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Face-Off: Return of the Living Dead Vs. Dead Alive

02.04.2013by: Mike Catalano
With zombies currently at the forefront these days, it seems our last Face-Off was a no-brainer in terms of who the winner was. Everyone unanimously agreed that Ash would have no trouble besting Tallahassee in the human monster killing department. I said it before and I will say it again: "Hail to the King, baby!"

We're staying firmly planted in the zombie genre for today's battle in honor of WARM BODIES opening this past Friday. And, boy, what a bout have we got in store! We've got two of the best, old-school splatter zombie flicks going toe to toe. Prepare yourselves for RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD VS. DEAD ALIVE.

Cause for Zombies
At a medical facility, a tank containing the remains of a body that apparently inspired the movie Night of the Living Dead gets accidentally opened, unleashing a harmful toxin that has the power to reanimate dead things. Before we know it, the neighboring graveyard is sprouting forth zombies. It's a tad outlandish, but damn if it isn't very creative for an 80's horror flick!
The Sumatran Rat Monkey! That's all I really should need to say for this category, but I'll elaborate a tad. Our hero's old bitch of a mother accompanies him on his date to the zoo with the beautiful Paquita. Suddenly, mama is bitten by the ravenous monkey and a bloody, oozing, ridiculous zombie-fest occurs after every human she comes into contact with.
Best lines
From cheesy to crazy, this flick's got a plethora of great quotes:

"Well for me, the worst way would be for a bunch of old men to get around me, and start biting and eating me alive. First, they would tear off my clothes..."

"Send... more... paramedics."

"But I don't care Darlin', because I love you, and you've got to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!"

"Let me ask you a question: did you ever see that movie, "Night of the Living Dead"?"

Dead Alive is equally loaded with brilliant one-liners:

"I kick ass for the Lord!"

"That's my mother you're pissing on."

"Your mother ate my dog!"

"No-one will ever love you like your mother!"

Splatter
We got a lot of zombie biting and some somewhat decayed-looking undead, but not a great deal of red stuff splattering all over the place. The decomposition of both Freddy and Frank is kinda gross, I suppose. There really wasn't that much insane gore in this flick, which is kind of surprising. I guess they spent most of their blood budget on Tar Man?
Now, this feakin' flick does not disappoint when it comes to copious buckets of gore! Peter Jackson throws everything but the kitchen sink at us in terms of grue! We get oozing, gushing, and spurting from all sorts of decaying orifices. The grand finale is a literal opera of splat-tastic proportions with both people and zombies getting eviscerated. And just when you think it can't get any better/grosser, Lionel straps a lawn mower to his chest with the blade point out!
Female Love Interest
Tina makes for a fairly serviceable 80's good girl, horror scream queen. She keeps her clothes on, runs fast, and screams loud. She also does a good job of supporting her man, Freddy, even when it becomes very evident that he is on his way to joining the likes of the undead. Not sure what's she doing hanging around Spider and Trash's group of delinquents, though. She also isn't too super memorable in hotness department, but hey, she sticks it out with her man till the end.
Ah, Paquita, the sweet Spanish shop girl whose grandmother's tarot cards predict that she and Lionel are destined to be together. Even though Lionel is a bit of a mama's boy, she makes a great effort to see if they are indeed compatible. She goes on a date, meets his mother, and endures a horrendous zombie onslaught. Now that is love, baby!
Humor
ROTLD surprisingly succeeds big-time in the laughs department. The whole self-aware aspect really aides this aspect. The opening dialogue between Freddy and Frank is a blast. And when the shit hits the fan, the reactions by all the humans in peril is absolutely priceless. Hell, even the zombies get in on the funny with them asking through a CB radio for people to send "more paramedics and cops". I consider this movie more of a comedy than a horror flick.
Dead Alive is also more comedy than horror and with Jackson's gift for delivering physical humor, the damn thing is a feast for your funny bone! From the ridiculously decaying, insulting mother to the out-of-control zombie baby to Lionel's repeated attempts to keep the zombie outbreak under wraps, this flick is like a laugh a minute. Never has high gore and hilarity been blended so well. The karate-fighting priest is still one of the funniest things I've ever seen on film.
Dead Alive
I suppose it would be pretty damn hard to beat an Oscar winner. Not that Dead Alive was granted any golden statues, but Peter Jackson is quite the genius when working within our beloved genre. Not to be taking anything away from Return of the Living Dead, but clearly Mr. Jackson is a force to not be f*cked with. Or am I totally wrong? Do you think ROTLD deserves to take the top prize? I know you want to spit them crazy bullets below, so go ahead and do it now! And feel free to send any future Face-Off ideas to me at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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