Braindead/Dead Alive (1992)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin

Still one of my favorite horror films and one of Peter Jackson’s best films, even though low-budget and tongue-in-cheek, Braindead to this day holds the record for the most fake blood ever used in a film (300 liters). Full of gore and slapstick humor this film starts out quirky, turns stylishly gruesome, and never lets up. Once you see the trailer, you’ll get the idea. Though technically not an Austrailian film, I’m still sticking with the down under theme and we can’t miss one of the most celebrated modern directors (we got Peter Weir covered with Picnic Rock, but don’t worry I’ll get to George Miller).

The film opens with the discovery of the Sumatran Rat-Monkey (look for the reference in the King Kong remake), a vicious little creature the product of a plague rat copulating with a tree monkey. The rat-monkey bites an explorer and the rest of his team kills him to prevent the spread of disease, then delivers the monster to the Wellington Zoo. There it bites the possessive mother of Lionel Cosgrove, a meek man who is obsessed with a local shopkeeper, Paquita.

Lionel’s mother deteriorates quickly and eventually becomes a flesh-eating zombie, forcing him to try to hide her condition with makeup and anesthetic. Eventually she bites other people, turning them into zombies as well. This includes a baby, which sounds horrific, but leads to some of the funniest sequences in the movie. In fact, Jackson came in under budget so used the excess $50,000 to go back and shoot a hilarious three stooges-like scene with Lionel and the mutant baby.

The zombies get out of control and Lionel is forced to anesthesize the growing crowd, but he mistakenly injects them with animal stimulant. Soon he has a hoard of blood-thristy undead on his hands and only he take them down using his wits and suped up lawnmower.

Try to get your hands on the unrated cut, as you’ll missing out on about 15 minutes of the funniest horror scenes you’ll ever see. You’ll still be cut off from watching 10 minutes of the orginal film that only came out on foreign releases due to the gore. Look for the director’s cameo as the mortician’s assistant.

Other Notable Films by this Director: Heavenly Creatures (1994), The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

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