Saturday, October 23, 2010

Horror Film Review

Dead Alive (1992):  Being a self-described zombie flick fanatic, I have no excuse for not watching this film until now.  I'd heard many things about it, most involving how incredibly gore-laden it is.  That and the fact it was directed by Peter Jackson, the man who helmed the greatest film trilogy of all time, Lord of the Rings.  So why did I wait so long?  I think I was afraid of being embarrassed for Jackson.  I needn't have worried (keep in mind I have yet to see Bad Taste).  Dead Alive is the most over the top, in your face, relentlessly disgusting movie ever made.  Consider who is telling you this and you'll have some idea how much weight to afford that comment.  Romero, Tarantino, Raimi, Carpenter, Craven, Argento...none of these guys come close to what Jackson has created here.

Lionel is a momma's boy who falls for shopgirl Paquita and Mum's not happy about it.  Mum then gets bitten by a monkey at the zoo, falls ill, dies, and then...the fun begins.  The final showdown occurs in Mum's enormous house where dozens of others have sought refuge from the encroaching calamity.  Of course, everyone around them becomes zombie food and then the food becomes undead...and hungry.  This brutal climax is seemingly endless and chock-full of severed limbs, slimy entrails, and not buckets, but barrels of blood.  And a lawnmower.  As horrifying and nauseating and this sounds, Jackson accomplishes it with tongue-in-cheek panache.  Although not exactly an homage to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead, Dead Alive takes the basic idea of that classic and turns the volume up to 11.  I will admit to feeling slightly unsteady after I'd finished watching it, not really queasy but more how you feel after stepping off a carnival ride.  And it was a hell of a ride. 


Acting:   A little strange and strained at times, especially Diana Penalver as Paquita. Elizabeth Moody as Mum chews up the scenery will malevolent glee. Timothy Balme as Lionel spends most of film bug-eyed and terrified, in other words, believable. 
Story:  Simple as simple gets, and that's not a bad thing.  The humor is definitely Raimi-esque.  Bruce Campbell could have played a nosy neighbor. 
Direction:  Well, it is Peter Jackson. 
Gore:  Um...yes.  There is gore.  More gore than you've ever seen in a horror movie.  Ever.  There's blood, there's pus, there's innards, there's brains, there's ripping skin and gnawed bones.  I could go on, but you get the idea. 
Ending:  There's a mutant, Mum-monster, a freaky infant zombie that bears a passing resemblance to Chucky, and a fire.  All in all, it worked for me.  None of the usual nihilistic crap. 
Verdict:  Should you see it?  If you can handle it, sure.  You can't call yourself a horror movie fan if you don't.  But if you have even a slightly weak stomach, don't eat anything beforehand...and keep a bucket close by. 

My Rating:  4 out of 5

As promised, the next horror film I'll be watching is Raaz, the offering from India.  I didn't watch it first because it's an hour longer than Dead Alive.  I do hope it's worth it.

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