Today's Pick: Dead Alive a.k.a. Braindead (1992)
When they write Peter Jackson's obituary, it will probably be all about his landmark adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. If I was writing it, I'd probably spend a lot more time focusing on his insane early outings like Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles because they are such memorably gonzo flicks that once you see them, they are seared into your brain forever, regardless of your opinion on their quality. Chief among his first few features is the bonkers masterpiece, Dead Alive (a.k.a. Braindead), which is a benchmark in horror-comedy history.
The film is such a cartoon that it does suffer a little when it comes to making you care about the characters, but when a zombie baby (born from the unhinged sexual exploits of a zombie priest and a zombie nurse) is ripping through someone's face and our hero is running through a crowd of the undead with an upright lawnmower as a weapon, character depth is something I'm willing to sacrifice.
Even though it was released in the early 90's, Dead Alive feels like the ultimate culmination of 80's splatstick horror. There's so much inventiveness and talent on display, and a juvenile delight in being as disgusting as possible. This is Sam Raimi turned up to eleven. I don't even think there's a single scary element in the movie. It's just a whole lots of laughs at the expense of gallons of fake blood and guts.
I could just list off every goofy sequence that makes me bust a gut, but then I'd be relaying the entire film. The less gags you know about going in, the more befuddled and amused you'll be by the end. Instead of taking another trip to Middle-Earth, grab yourself a copy of Dead Alive and get ready to develop rock hard abs from cackling non-stop.
Tomorrow, we close out Zombie Week with the one that started it all. Well, sort of. You'll see what I mean.
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