Spooktober 22, Day 9: Dead Alive (Brain Dead)

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. There may also be lists, audio, or video, depending on my wicked mood. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

As this film was discussed on a podcast with my other film site, it made me realize that it was really quite the faux pas that I hadn’t yet discussed as such a seminal film in my young childhood foray into the genre. Which film am I referring to? Of course one from the iconic Peter Jackson! It’s got a zombie-esque Sumatran rat-monkey, so much of a delightful comedic center, and plenty of gore, it’s almost a crime not to discuss.

Dead Alive (also known as Brain Dead) was a film I saw as a kid, and its absurd unrelenting dive into bloody and outrageous horror, combining stop motion, gross-out moments, strange humor, and copious amounts of blood, won me over.

source: ORO Films

Dead Alive is in many ways, an embodiment of my intro to horror, this was a movie I watched with my immediate family, extended family, and then family friends, because it was just so memorable that I had to share it. Haven’t seen it? Here you go! It feels like a staple of its time, and it is also it just so iconic, that it can’t be mentioned.

Dead Alive follows the earnest Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) who wants to appease his mother, not unlike Norman Bates, but is also looking for love, and he’s found it in Paquita Maria Sanchez (Diana Peñalver) who is looking for it directly from her grandmother’s predictions. It isn’t a perfect fairy tale match, but these two are destined in some way. From here, there is a monkey bite from human bite to bite, with numerous victims, and suddenly Lionel has a basement of zombie-like compadres.

As LOTR’s may be Peter Jackson’s magnum opus (thus far) this was an early ode to comical, bloody fun. This is a zombie classic with limbs falling off (into soup no less), a lawnmower as a weapon, and sweet, sweet, romance. Oh, and a rapid rat monkey that’s out for blood. Don’t get too close. It’s got this grainy, b-horror vibe that reminds me of my first VHS watch (yes I’m dating myself). I personally find that comforting. There’s also an undeniable effervescent energy to it that bounces from scene to scene.

It’s got mayhem and it doesn’t shy from its full frontal crimson-stained attack. This is complete camp, absolute gore, and entirety a love letter to horror in all of its generational and various forms. This is both nostalgic and also just plain fun from a stellar director who clearly had a blast working on it.

Dead Alive has killer effects, and eccentric hilarity, and thrives through Jackson’s passion. This is a must-see for any horror-comedy fan.

Dead Alive is currently available on VOD (finally)

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