Dir. Peter Jackson (1992)
A young man has to fight a horde of zombies, including his mother, after a Sumatran rat monkey brings a terrifying plague to his doorstep.
CAUTION: THIS MOVIE'S SUBJECT & CONTENT IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING AND/OR BRUTAL. I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO INCLUDE ANY PICTURES IN THIS REVIEW BECAUSE THEY MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
Today I figured I'd take on one of the kings of the genre: Peter Jackson's Braindead, or Dead Alive, depending on your nationality. I had heard that it was a ridiculously ridiculous take on the classic zombie tale, with a few low budget twists thrown in and buckets of blood to boot. I also heard it was an amazingly fun watch. And I gotta say, I agree with all of that.
Braindead is a completely unintelligent watch. It's stupid, ridiculous, and has burned itself into the memory of many a horror fan, myself included, as the grossest and goriest movie ever made, but goddamn is it a lot of fun. It's funny, it's supremely gross, and it really should be watched by everyone, or at least everyone who can stomach it. I, personally, had never seen it. I knew it had to go on my list of movies I would watch and review, but other than some standard synopses I'd seen online, I really didn't know that much about it. Sure, I knew about the lawn-mower scene, and I knew that it was supposed to be disgusting, but I had no idea the ride that I was in for when I sat down to watch it.
From the karate-fighting, trash-talking priest, to the scene where the food leaks out of the severed neck of one of the zombies, Braindead was incredibly enjoyable and vomit-inducing. There was literally nothing about this movie I didn't like. It was terrible acting, but it was SUPPOSED to be terribly acted. It was low budget schlock, but it was SUPPOSED to be low budget schlock. It appealed to everything a good horror movie should be: it had the "handsome" lead, the damsel in distress, the guy everyone hates that gets his in the end, and a zombie baby that looked like something my neighbor would put on his porch for Halloween. It also had some truly awesome kill scenes.
The only thing I didn't like about Braindead was that it took me so long to find and watch it. I looked for it in every movie store I could think of, and nobody had it. I could've bought it off Amazon, but I'm cheap and like instant gratification, so I just moved it to the top of my Netflix queue and had it watched the next day. Boy I'm glad I did. It's on almost everyone's list of the best ever, and now I can add it to mine. Truly impressive, especially for what it was.
What got me the most about Braindead is the fact that it is the first film of Australian director Peter Jackson (I think he's from New Zealand, but other than Kiwis, I don't know what to call people from there, so fuck it). He would eventually go on to helm the incredibly high-budget Lord of the Rings Trilogy, as well as a less-well-received remake of King Kong. The Lord of the Rings movies were incredibly high-grossing and they were even Oscar-winning. They made back more than their ridiculous budget and catapulted Jackson into the realm of heralded directors like Lucas, Coppola, and some would even say Spielberg. Can you imagine that? The guy that made this film that would make most of the members of the Academy vomit and leave the theater in disgust is now one of the highest-grossing directors in the world? It's insane. It would be like if David Lynch had made all of his catalogue up to now, and then had been pegged to direct the live-action remake of Finding Nemo or something.
I highly encourage any horror buff who hasn't watched this movie to seek it out and watch it immediately. You won't be disappointed, and you'll just regret never having seen it before like I did. Just take some Pepto before you sit down for it, and make the kids leave the room. You're not going to want to answer the questions this movie will give them. And for the love of God... don't eat any custard.
Who this movie is for: Gorehounds, All horror fans, No, seriously, fucking everyone should watch this
Bottom Line: Peter Jackson made a name for himself with low-budget horror movies in the beginning of the career, and this might just be the best low-budget horror movie ever made. In that regard, it's not surprising that he managed to go on to such a legendary career. This one is a must watch, though it's not for the faint of stomach. No really, don't watch it if you have a queasy stomach. You will vomit. A lot. Other than that, enjoy!