I’ve recently came into the LAMB community and for my first LAMB Movie of the Month I had the pleasure to watch Dead Alive (1992, aka Braindead). And damn, I’m still not sure on if it was a mistake or not. I watched it alone, and I know that was a mistake. This is most certainly a movie to watch with your friend’s with benefits. That being the benefit of lighting up some dope (dope is what all the kids are calling it now don’t you know? Actually it’s what my mother just referred to it as) while watching a really terrible, yet influential horror movie. Although as much as it would be categorized as horror, it is just as much comedy as well.
Dead Alive had me covering my mouth in shock, groaning in disgust, laughing aloud, and pondering to myself on how the hell the established Director that I know, Peter Jackson, could ever direct or even be a part of a movie this ridiculous! The editing, acting, character development, plot line, and special effects are not only grotesque, but underwritten as well. The only shinning redemption of this film is that it is so bad it’s good in some sort of incredibly cheesy manner.
The movie’s desolate plot revolves around a Sumatran Rat Monkey from Skull Island being brought over into 1952 America. For a zoo, because that’s exactly what the American people want to see. Is that ugly fuck. —-> Anyways. Our average hero Lionel, Timothy Balme, is out on a date with our love interest Paquita, Diana Peñalver, at the local zoo. Little does Lionel know that his needy mommie dearest followed him. Karma’s a bitch though, because this insufferable mother is soon bit by the Sumatran Rat Monkey which eventually turns her into a repulsive, brain-dead zombie that refuses to die. Although, would she be labeled as a zombie? I’m not sure, it isn’t textbook zombie. Once she begins to infect others with her (surprisingly) vicious bite the whole town nearly becomes fertilizer at the climatic party scene. You could dismember these dead, shove them into a food chopper, and feed them poison but they keep moving! So that means even a simple brain removal wouldn’t work! So are they classified as zombies? I do not know. The rest of the film is about the star-cross lovers surviving and killing the shit out of the brain-dead.
At some point while watching the film I read on either IMDb or Wikipedia about how Dead Alive was a response to the The Evil Dead franchise ending, which began in 1981 and continued in 1987 and 1992. (Obviously this is before the 2013 remake.) The excerpt said something along the lines of “Dead Alive will give Evil Dead a run for it’s money,” and I said to myself, that’s impossible. There is no way this film could pass The Evil Dead in the amount of blood, creepiness, and unsettling feelings you get while watching. I was wrong. So, so incredibly wrong. Apparently, Dead Alive is said to be the bloodiest movie of all time. 300 liters of movie blood was used in the final scene alone, while the lawn mower scene had blood being pumped out at 5 gallons per second! That shit is cray cray! (Again all the kids are saying it these days.)
The movie had many hilarious, maybe even standing ovation scenes. You recall how I said the best way to have probably watched this wold have been while smoking the reefer with friends? I only make that suggestion because I think that’s how writers Jackson, Stephen Sinclar, and Fran Walsh came up with their screenplay. Some of the moments they created just scream “I was high as fuck when this thought crossed my mind, it should be in a movie.” Actually, any of the memorable moments that happen in this film were probably a deviation of the thought in some manner or drug and Jackson just happen to be a director.
One of those scenes happen in a cemetery. Lionel goes back to dig up his brain-dead mother who was sedated to be buried. Only then does the audience realize this movie is happening in the 50’s. And it’s done oh-so tactfully. We see mommy-dearest’s head stone with the 1952 date. Cue a gang of drinking greasers to beat the snot out of Lionel. Then the preacher from the funeral shows up in his night robe and begins to fight the greasers with kung-fu. I mean, it doesn’t get much more “drugs in the basement” vibe than that.
Another thing this movie does well would be how this movie could be the explanation of how Norman Bates became a Psycho. Honestly, you sit there and realize, fuck, Lionel is Norman Bates before he became a mass murder. All the hints are there. His mother is not only over-bearing, but also a crazy, sadistic bitch that kept the remains of her dead husband hidden up in the attack. Then, during the climax of the movie, Lionel is sucked into his mothers giant, disgusting, wider-than-a-hallway womb. Come to mommy right?
This movie may be a difficult gore fest to watch, especially by one’s self, but it does have it’s moments that pay off. Things you never thought you would see come alive on the screen, and because of that, you should probably watch it. Don’t worry, I didn’t spoil anything for you. Shit is fucked up though.