Do you love your mother? I know I sure do. But that goes without saying. Everyone should love their sweet old mums. They not only brought us life, they put up with our stupid crap. They know us better than we know ourselves. Sure they roll their eyes and think us strange. But in the end our mothers think the highest of us while everyone else doesn’t. Let’s be honest, our moms are probably the main reason our fathers never gave us up for adoption.
But what would you do if your mother become a flesh eating zombie? Would you care for her at all costs? Even while she eats your friends dog or turns the town into an all you can eat buffet. Becoming a hideous beast hellbent on guts and gore. Could you look her in her cold dead eyes while the blood runs from her festering mouth? Could any of us begrudge any mama’s boy for trying to make light of a situation like that?
Dead Alive Production
Dead Alive (or Braindead everywhere else) is a 1993 camp horror film directed by Peter Jackson and it is the best horror movie to come out of the nineties. It stars Tim Balme, Ian Watkin, Elizabeth Moody and Diana Peñalver. It was filmed in Jacksons home town of Wellington, New Zealand. The magical land where Jackson also shot many of his films like 1988’s Bad Taste and then his award winning epic fantasy series The Lord Of The Rings based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s timeless classic. Lord of The Rings is my most favorite book of all time. I read it every year since I was a teenager. Look, this is my tattoo on my upper arm just to show you how much of a loser I am.
After Lionels overprotective mother Vera is bitten by a dangerous rat-monkey and turns into a flesh eating zombie, Lionel does all he can to still protect his loving mum. But loving a loved one comes at a price. Especially a dead one. Soon the zombie infestation spreads and it is up to Lionel to end it all.
To say Dead Alive is my most favorite campy horror movie is an understatement. I have to be honest with everyone, but I actually love Dead Alive more than Evil Dead. Yes, I said it. If you were to make a checklist of the top bronze age horror films every fanatic needs to love then I would imagine we would all have similar lists. Most people would probably choose Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Evil Dead. Lots people would throw in Halloween or one of the Friday The 13th films and hardcore folks throw in Hellraiser. It all depends on your personal style. But for me, Dead Alive is one of those films that has to be on that list. You are a complete fool not to love this movie.
Great Heroes Journey
Dead Alive takes the typical story of the heroes journey and reigns it in perfectly. Our main character Lionel is perfect example of this hero. Lionel is jittery nervous. He’s a down on his luck kind of guy that doesn’t have anything going for him. He lives with his overprotecting and needy mother that actually despises him. Lionel gives into all her manipulations and lies. Even when meeting and falling in love with Paquita, his mother tries to stop it.
When the zombie infestation begins, Lionel is the one that must overcome himself and triumph. He is given many obstacles like the fact that everyone around him is a walking corpse wanting to eat human flesh. His swindling Uncle Les tries to heist Lionel out of his home and fortune. None of these things are things Lionel doesn’t seem capable of winning over.
But then he pulls through and in the same time rescuing the love of his life. Through the entire process he confronts inner monsters and even the biggest monster of them all, his mother. This entire heroes journey is a familiar one and a reason why the movie is easy to hold on to. We don’t have a convoluted plot to the film. There are zombies that are eating everyone and Lionel is our hero. This lets you focus in on the gore and at the same time cheer for Lionel as he hacks and slashes his way through the muck and mire of human body parts.
Most Blood My Balls!
When IT: Chapter 2 was in beginning to make its first trailer appearances and the actors were doing their typical Late Night runs. Talking with hacks like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel all in order to market their new movies to the crowd of morons. It was heard everywhere that this second installment to the It series was going to feature “the most blood in any horror movie ever.” Automatically, every horror fan shit themselves across the globe. Not because it sounded awesome but because it sounded so severely stupid! Who the hell do these people think they are for coming in and making such a declaration? This should be considered a crime!
But then, I thought “It was bound to happen.” Horror movies do push the limits on blood and gore. So to make the next big leap in quantity and severity is always likely to happen. So I saw the movie and guess what? It sucked balls! Oh by the way, the scene that has “the most blood ever” was bull shit! Does It:Chapter 2 have the most bloodiest movie scene ever? Hell no! The only thing that movie has the most ever is a terrible script with shitty roller coaster pacing! You know why it was bull shit? Because I’ve seen Dead Alive and that lawnmower scene is by far the best and most bloodiest moment in all horror movie history! Just because you make a movie scene that has a pool of blood doesn’t make it the “bloodiest.” To be bloody and to pass up Dead Alive means you need cause and effect. You need texture, you need consistency! You need to feel like at any moment you could be contracting a disease from all the shit and blood cells! Dead Alive does this and its never been beaten.
End of An Age
Dead Alive is brilliant and it remains as a last testament to the bronze age of horror. While the slasher genre was in a miserable end and awaiting its reemergence with Wes Cravens 1996 Scream, horror seemed to linger in a strange state of “where the fuck do we go?” There wasn’t a common theme or style being done. So Peter Jackson comes out and says “stay here you morons!”
This movie and others like Horror Movie Marathon’s Day 1 – Drag Me To Hell tell us all that you can still make movies that are campy and huge gore festivals. That you don’t have to be so damn serious all the time. I miss this in movies. Sure movies like Hellraiser and The Void have their place but some times I just want to see a bunch of guts being spilled and zombie babies being thrown into blenders!
I don’t need large scale explorations of a character. I want the hilarity and the absurd. These are the things that make Dead Alive so appealing. We laugh at the priest that “kicks ass for the Lord!” and we’re thrilled at Uncle Les trying to piss with a kidney stone! The slapstick moments of a guy pushing a stroller with a killer baby in it is awesome! It’s not all serious mumbo jumbo that we see over and over again. We accept what is without having to sit through boring plot devices. But at the same time, standing in awe of the amount of talent and brilliance it took to gross us out.
This is why Dead Alive is my most favorite horror film and why it is chosen for day eight of Horror Movie Marathon!