“I kick ass for the lord!” says the kung-fu master priest in Peter Jackson’s crazy ass film Dead Alive. With dialogue like that what could go wrong? In the case of Dead Alive, nothing. This film is pure pleasure and I had an absolute riot.
I have a theory that horror and comedy share a lot of similarities. My wife stares at me strangely as I laugh when someone is impaled by a kitchen implement, run over by a piece of farming machinery, or blown up in a meaty explosion. These are elements that make watching horror films fun. Dead Alive possesses many of these “quality” moments. With a proper blend of horror, action and comedy Dead Alive is a tasty jambalaya of a horror film.
Dead Alive (formerly known as Braindead) tells the story of a search for the infamous Sumatran rat-monkey. The rat monkey, a legendary creature, thought to be the result of the breeding between tree monkeys and plague rats, inhabits Skull Island, where our adventure begins. The rat-monkey is eventually located and captured, at which time it proceeds to attack the leader of the expedition. After being attacked, the expedition leader receives a rather interesting treatment for the wound (you’ll have to see it to believe it). The rat-monkey is then taken to a zoo located in 1950s Wellington New Zealand.
We soon meet Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) an ubergeek in love with shopkeeper’s daughter Paquita Maria Sanchez (Diana Penalver). During a trip to the zoo, Lionel’s overbearing, conniving and spying mother is bitten by the rat-monkey. The mother is taken home where she proceeds to transform into a mindless killing machine. This is where the fun begins. Over the remainder of the film we are treated to something that meshes gross out zombie infection, camp comedy (in the style of the Evil Dead), the blood and gore of a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, with just a hint of action film thrown in for flavor. This is the kind of movie genre film lovers wait for. With lines like “I kick ass for the lord” coming out of the mouth a Catholic priest (channeling Bruce Lee), you know what you are getting yourself info.
Dude it’s Peter Jackson! When I say it’s Peter Jackson I mean it’s Peter Jackson before becoming “MEGA UBER FILMMAKER – PETER JACKSON”. This is horror filmmaker – Peter Jackson. Dead Alive was made nearly 10 years prior to Jackson’s low budget trilogy of people walking around the countryside. Any time a director makes it to the big time, one cannot help but revisit films from his or her back catalog. Peter Jackson’s success with Lord of the Rings increased awareness of his prior films. Which eventually lead me to Dead Alive.
How I Missed It
Prior to Lord of the Rings who the hell had heard of Peter Jackson? Jackson had had some successes before LOTR with films like like Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners. Sometimes it takes a mega hit to really raise awareness.
Better Late or Never
This movie is 100% in the Better Late category. This is a film that any true horror fans must see. Go rent or better yet buy this one now.
Check out this cool behind the scenes image from Dead Alive over on Ain’t it Cool: