Thursday, October 06, 2005


1992, New Zealand, directed by Peter Jackson (US title: Dead Alive)

Watching Braindead, I couldn't help but wonder how Peter Jackson ever persuaded people to part with another dollar in order to allow him to continue his career - never mind get from here to pre-production on The Lord of the Rings in five short years. Then again, perhaps they figured it was best to keep him occupied with movie-making than have him on the streets. There's no doubting that Jackson was already developing, and confident in, his filmmaking chops, for there's a breakneck pacing in evidence, as well as a creative, mobile camera that would come in handy both on Heavenly Creatures and, more obviously, in committing Tolkien's saga to celluloid.

Since I'm not a committed gore hound, however, the sometimes laughable special effects, constant showers of blood (and other assorted bodily fluids), and wildly over-the-top performances left me a little cold. The plot, for what it's worth, involves a Sumatran rat, whose bite apparently turns people into zombies, who naturally want to chomp on the neighbors, thereby creating more zombies. The action is set in very prim 1950s New Zealand, where a zombiefied mother is something of a social liability, as Lionel, our hero, quickly finds out, particularly when Mum nibbles on her nurse. There are more than a few similarities with Shaun of the Dead, particularly the matter-of-fact attitude of both heroes in dealing with the outlandish events around them, although the latter film deals with the arrival of zombies in polite society with considerably more wit.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States