Cult Movies 101: Braindead

Before academy award-winning director Peter Jackson was filming J.R. Tolkien’s masterpieces and exploiting alien racism in “District 9,” he was making movies that left his audience in shock and stitches. His third film “Braindead,” better known in the United States as “Dead Alive,” is notorious for its over the top gore and absolutely bizarre sense of humor, which gave Mr. Jackson’s style the affectionate title “splatstick.”

The film deals with Lionel Cosgrove, a man who can’t get away form his domineering mother. Lionel’s mother is eventually bitten by a monkey at the zoo and becomes the first person infected with the virus, which causes her to kill and infect everything in sight. The freudian theme in the movie is that Lionel simply cannot dismember his mother and therefore allows all the infected “zombie” like townspeople to become victims to his mother and everything else that gets infected.

Highlights include a kung-fu priest, plenty of gore, dismemberment, zombie sex, zombie babies, and of course, the greatest finale ever known to gore: Lawnmower Death! (this scene actually set a record at the time for the most money used on blood!)

The humor in the movie is amazing. You can tell that the cast and crew had a lot of fun and might question your own morals when watching. In the classic “splatstick” Jackson was known for, he pulls absolutely no punches, just heads- off. The humor is delivered in the execution, the way people are killed and/or zombified is unbelievably clever. Things like this you would see on “Metalocalypse” now, which “Dead Alive” can be viewed as inspiration for the deaths that go on on that cartoon. But this was 1992, and at the time it, was the ultimate gore-fest. In fact, it still is. The creativity in the violence is so original and flows so well, you might be tempted to try this at home. ( is NOT liable for anything stupid you may try to replicate that may but especially will cause death. Thank you.)

The acting is not great, but seeing as the movie is driven by death, most of the cast doesn’t last long enough to necessarily need decent acting chops. Even the main characters aren’t very good, but this is one of those movies that bad acting is fine and the acting is better than the likes of “Troll 2” or anything Tommy Wiseau has ever done. It almost seems that Jackson WANTED the worst actors to die, because oddly enough, they make better zombies.

If you’re looking for a great all around funny gore-fest, then “Dead Alive” is for you. It’s violent content is rarely topped. The humor is great, the plot is simple and the violence is more than there. Check this one out as soon as inhumanly possible, and don’t go to the zoo!

About Chris Butera 136 Articles
Chris Butera has been absorbed in Heavy Metal since he was 15 years old. He has been playing in bands since 2006 and has interned for extreme music label Earache Records, while writing for since its inception and more recently for When he isn’t doing anything music related he’s probably reading comics or classic books, watching a horror movie or a wrestling match, or pretending to be a dinosaur.

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