The film: Dead Alive -aka- Braindead
The Guests: Travis Trapp & Josh Castillo
I’m no gorehound, but I have seen and enjoyed plenty of films that employ inventive special effects that mostly have to do with some kind of gore. When a filmmaker – usually an amateur horror fan director – revels in gore, there’s something painfully obvious about the taste, mentality, and intent of said director. Quite often these films are from the darkest and most cynical of places with scant abilities in key areas of film making – namely writing, acting, and production. What makes Dead Alive such a stand out from most other splatter movies (in this case the term “splatstick” was coined on account of the juxtaposition of copious buckets of grue and often spastic physical comedy) is the love of film making that seeps onto the screen.
Dead Alive is a simple tale of a young man grieving for his recently deceased mother, but also his attempt to break away from her draconian clutches even from beyond the grave. There’s also a love story somewhere buried beneath the limbs of the ever growing pile of zombies that seem to keep multiplying at a rate that would give the Gremlins a run for their money. Throw in a greedy uncle, an early reference to Skull Island (King Kong), and a lawn mower, and you have a send-up of melodrama and the zombie sub-genre all at once.
The director of Dead Alive is none other than Peter Jackson, now famous for his take on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit sagas. But years before he helmed blockbuster fare, Jackson cut his teeth with three gory and silly movies: Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and Dead Alive. After Dead Alive, Jackson directed Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures, serving as an opposite to his previous works. Heavenly Creatures was almost meditative in comparison to his three earlier films, but is what cemented his presence in the Hollywood machine.
Though it’s a film about zombies and the inevitability of death, Dead Alive is quite possibly Peter Jackson’s most lively work to date. Listen to us talk about it on this episode of What Did We Just Watch?!?