Dead Alive (Peter Jackson, 1992)

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Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

Dead Alive, although bursting with blood and gristle, has no hell-bent intention on scaring you.  It exists solely to immensely amuse and disgust with its goopy blend of comedy and anarchic carnage.  It’s a picture in the vein of the best of early Sam Raimi, as gory-goofy-gross and infectiously enthusiastic as Jackson’s later LOTR films are solemn and staid.  Multiple times during the course of the grandly Guignol ride you’ll suddenly become aware when you surprise yourself with a loud bout of laughter, that your jaw has been hanging slack for some time.

The plot starts a’rollicking when a bizarre rat-monkey creature is captured and flung into a zoo, where it has the opportunity to bite the hideous mother of our main character Lionel, as she’s smarming about trying to ruin his date with the sweetly winning Paquita.  A forewarning: not at all a film you want to watch with your momma.  Mom becomes infected, then zombified, and proceeds to spread the illness around town until the film crescendos into a maelstrom of chaos, zombies, autonomous digestive systems, lawnmowers,  and barrels & barrels of blood.

This film practically twinkles with a most deliciously gruesome and vivid, boundless imagination; it’s incredible to think that the mind that birthed the epic trilogy of Middle Earth was responsible for such a movie.  I can’t quite imagine the studio heads watching a scene where Lionel beats up the horrendous mutant zombie spawn of an undead nurse and priest and then entrusting Jackson with hundreds of millions of dollars.  However, Jackson’s brand of good-natured outrageously deviant genius is just irresistible, I guess.  Enjoy, and try not to vomit!

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2 Responses to “Dead Alive (Peter Jackson, 1992)”

  1. Christopher Says:

    I hope to see some love for The Frighteners, too. I like it even better than Dead Alive.

  2. Miss Q Says:

    Haha, does Michael J Fox give it the extra edge for you? 🙂 As much as I like The Frighteners, nothing can top the first experience I had with Dead Alive, where my jaw was alternately at a standstill drop or convulsing with laughter. At 16, 17 or whatever, I had never really seen anything like it and was bowled over.

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