Dead Alive is perhaps one of the most audaciously gory movies in existence. Just to give you a clue there are three separate make-up, prosthesis and effects titles in the opening credits – that’s how important the gore is to the movie. What keeps Dead Alive different from something like an Eli Roth film is the fact that it is Peter Jackson, and it is a B-movie. The gore is in the movie for the sake of seeing how far they can push the reality button and still make a movie. I would even venture to say that the gore isn’t intended to scare, it’s simply intended to see how much they can get away with.
This movie is a zombie movie, but it doesn’t really follow the conventions of any zombie movie I’ve ever seen. The zombie infestation is brought on by black magic whose vessel is a rat monkey forcefully taken to the local zoo against the warnings of the tribal people. However, the crux of the story is brought on by young Paquita who desperately wants to find her true love, so her grandmother reads her fortune and Paquita discovers that her love is Lionel a local with a very controlling mother. On their first date Lionel and Paquita go to the zoo and his mother follows them to spy only to be bitten by the rat monkey. Within a few days she is a zombie; Lionel can’t bring himself to kill her so he keeps her trapped in the basement. But as the problems are with zombies they multiply and before he knows it Lionel is keeping a whole team of zombies trapped in his basement, his uncle is trying to stake claim on Lionel’s inheritance, and Paquita believes that Lionel’s distance from her is because he wants to break up with her.
This film is filled with classic Peter Jackson visuals, but in a way that you have never seen before if you are not familiar with his early work. Though gory, this film is beautifully composed and is one heck of a tale, it really does entertain.
If you haven’t seen one of Peter Jackson’s films prior to Lord of the Rings I high recommend you take a look at one of his New Zealand films. I don’t recommend Dead Alive for everyone though, if you’re looking for something a little less grotesque I would go with Heavenly Creatures, but be aware that movie is disturbing in its own way.
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Stephen Sinclair, Frances Walsh & Peter Jackson
Lionel Cosgrove: Timothy Balme
Paquita: Diana Penalver
Vera Cosgrove: Elizabeth Moody
Uncle Les: Ian Watkin
Nurse McTavish: Brenda Jendall
Father McGruder: Stuart Devenie
Paquita: Your mother ate my dog!
Lionel Cosgrove: Not all of it.
**The International Title of this film is Braindead**