'Dead Alive' Review

Dead Aliveby Michael Sieber, MoreHorror.com

Like many famous directors, Peter Jackson, (King Kong, Lord of the Rings) cut his teeth doing horror films, and his most notorious horror flick is the 1992 film, Dead Alive, also known as Brain Dead, which has been billed as one of the goriest films ever made.

But while other directors did serious horror films, Jackson opted for a black comedy filled to the brim with blood and gore. And it is indeed a trip that every horror fan should take at least once.

The film opens up on a place known as Skull Island, where Stewart, an explorer, is transporting a live specimen to take back for an exhibit at the zoo. This animal is the Sumatran Rat-Monkey, and is greatly feared by the natives because one bite from it can spell disaster.

On the way, our explorer is bitten on the hand. His team, realizing what that means, promptly holds him down and chops off his hand. They then see what they think is a bite on his arm and make haste in chopping off that appendage as well. Finally, one of them sees a scratch on Stewart's head. Thinking this is also a bite, they lop that off as well.

Cut to the town of Wellington where we meet Lionel Cosgrove, who is a clumsy man who lives with his overbearing and clingy mother. When Lionel falls for the local shopkeeper's daughter, Paquita, mom is determined to put a stop to it lest she lose Lionel. She follows her son and Paquita to the local zoo where she's bitten by the Sumatran Rat-Monkey on display. We then get to see why this animal is so feared – it slowly turns its victims into flesh eating zombies. Being a loving son, Lionel decides to care for her as she deteriorates by keeping her sedated with animal tranquilizers that he gets from the vet who just happens to be a Nazi in hiding.

As mom's condition worsens, Lionel calls a nurse and they agree to take mom to a hospital. However, mom dies, only to come back as a zombie, and bites the nurse turning her into a zombie. Again, Lionel tries to help by keeping them both locked in the basement and pumping them full of tranquilizers.

Mom escapes and goes into town where she's hit by a train. With the townspeople believing that she's dead, Lionel arranges for a funeral, but as she won't stay down, he has to hit her up with even more tranquilizers. Once buried, Lionel goes to dig her up to, you guessed it, give her another dose, when he's attacked by a gang who proceed to beat him up and piss on his mother's grave. Of course, mom rises from the ground, kills one of the gang members, and local priest jumps in to fight the rest off with some holy martial arts action.

Now there are more zombies, including the priest, so Lionel keeps them at home and cares for them like they're family. As if things couldn't get any worse for Lionel, he's being blackmailed by his uncle who finds out about Lionel's 'extended family'. Lionel, fearing he's going to be accused of murder, agrees to give all of his inheritance to his uncle.

To celebrate, Lionel's uncle throws a party for all of his friends in the house – the house with the zombies in it. It's about this point where things really go tits up for Lionel and Paquita, and the mayhem that ensues is about the most gory and over-the-top fun you can imagine in a horror film. There are hundreds of zombies, a zombie baby, lawnmowers used as weapons, a man's face being peeled off like a sock, intestines, spines, blood, torsos, heads, half heads, and, well you get the idea.

Dead Alive isn't a film one takes seriously; it's a party film, one where you invite a group of friends over (maybe for Halloween) open up a few six packs, grab some snacks, and say things like, “Damn!”

For the most part, the effects have held up nicely since its release, although some things like the zombie baby, which is obviously a kid in a rubber suit who is much larger than the prop used for closeups, looked pretty bad even back in the day, the over-the-top gore and dark humor are why people watch this film. There are quirky characters, amazing amounts of splatter, tons of laughs, and everyone looks like they're having a blast making this film. I think that if you're new to this one, you'll definitely have a blast watching it. Most highly recommended.

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