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Timothy Balme, Diana Penalver. When his demanding mother becomes a blood-hungry zombie looking for victims, a devoted son tries to keep her actions a secret from the neighbors. Considered one of the most violent, gory horror films of all time! 1992/color/97 min/unrated/widescreen.
If you're not a connoisseur of graphic horror and gruesome gore, you'd better steer clear of this wicked 1992 horror-comedy from the demented mind and delirious camera of New Zealand-born writer-director Peter Jackson. However, if nonstop mayhem and extreme violence are your idea of great entertainment, you're sure to appreciate Jackson's gleefully inventive approach to a story that can judiciously be described as sick, twisted, and totally outrageous. The movie's central character is a poor schmuck named Lionel who's practically enslaved to his domineering mother. But when ol' Mum gets bitten by a rare and poisonous rat monkey from Skull Island and is turned into a flesh-eating zombie, Lionel has the unfortunate task of keeping Mama happy while fending off all the other zombies that result from her voracious feeding frenzies. If you've read this far, you'll either be crying out for censorship or eagerly awaiting your first viewing (or second, or third...) of this wildly clever and audaciously uninhibited movie. And while director Jackson would later achieve critical success with his fact-based drama Heavenly Creatures, his talent is readily evident in this earlier effort. If you find this kind of thing even remotely appealing, consider Dead Alive a must-see movie. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
As one would expect, this film has it's roots in Re-Animator and the Evil Dead films, but it manages to find it's own style and tone. Evil Dead II was wildly over-the-top and energetic while Re-Animator was pretty subdued and deadpan much of the time. Dead Alive, directed by the now highly famed and lauded Peter Jackson, is somewhere in between, certainly not as controlled as Re-Animator, but nowhere near as flat out weird and kinetic as Evil Dead II.(at least not from beginning to end.) And yeah it's pretty funny, though perhaps the majority of the non-gore related humor tends to fall flat. It's also more purely good-natured and fun-loving than any of those films.(Perhaps this is related to their New Zealand accents) I don't know if it's necessarily better than any of those films, it's a tough call, but they're all in the same league, and fans of one ought to like the others.
Inspiration is frequently in short supply in the non-zombie related scenes, but their are enough zombie scenes that it doesn't matter too much. The characters are extremely broad caricatures, including the cute, naive love interest, the dorky, buttoned down hero, the evil controlling mother and the conniving, greedy and chauvinistic uncle. Naturally characters don't matter a whole helluva lot in this film, but, for what it's worth, both Paquita and Lionel are reasonably likable as the protagonist. The film ain't much on plot either, as it's pretty much just a series of comic scenes involving Lionel's attempts to keep the zombie outbreak a secret, and then their collective attempts to simply destroy them. Personally, I find this structural format to be perfectly fine. The less plot the better, when it comes to this sort of film.
The gore is so ridiculous and over-the-top that it's hard to imagine how anyone could be offended by it, though it is quite gross at times. The gore itself particularly reminds of the original Evil Dead, as it emphasizes goo and moistness, and the zombies look fairly reminiscent of the demon-possessed individuals from that film. Although the gore isn't nor is it trying to be realistic, the execution is often more professional and well done than I would've anticipated. Going into too many specifics would be terribly time consuming, but their are a few things that demand pointing out. The single best gore effect would have to be towards the beginning of the film, when the nurse gets her head ripped off. (most of the way, anyway) And, the much famed lawnmower massacre towards the end of the film is classic, and has some surprisingly nicely done effects to go along with the sheer over-the-top insanity of the scene.(The effects I'm referring, in specific, to some of the shots of the limbs getting shredded into nothingness) And, the stop-motion animated sumatran rat monkey is quite fun as well.
Yeah, this movie is pretty great. Not quite the all time highpoint in gore, in my mind, however. I think that Riki-Oh is funnier on the gore front, and am more impressed by some more serious films that display more realistic gore. But Dead Alive still does what it does very well.
You'll enjoy this movie if the following apply to you:
1) the phrases "karate priest", "baby zombie", and "rat-monkey" piqued your interest.
2) You liked Evil Dead II and Army Of Darkness, and are definitely not in the camp that the series went downhill once Sam Raimi started adding in comic elements
3) You're not at all squeamish about blood and relish completely over-the-top bordering on implausible gory death scenes.
4) You have a general taste for cheesy b-movies.
But that's not what this is about, blu ray presentation. Before I received this in the mail, i read somewhere that the picture isn't great and only looks to be about twice the resolution of a dvd. Now if Dead Alive had a good picture on dvd that might be true, but IMO had one of the worst pictures I've ever seen on dvd. So any bit of upgrade beats the dvd. When I was watching blu with 120hz picture resolution, during the first half I kept thinking over and over again "this is what the dvd should have looked like" which means by blu standards the first half is not great, its clear and at times vivid but there is never ending freckles and pops in the picture. By the time the carnage begins it seems the picture really cleans itself up and looks great. The final 45 min of this movie look like blu ray should. Crystal clear, no flecks, great. Period. To any fans of this, the blu is must own because in the United States at least, your not gonna get a better looking version of this movie anywhere. I'm happy with it.
Sound is in DTS-HD MA 2.0. Nothing too great but it does the job. No bonus features other than a (fullscreen standard) trailer for the film and other lionsgates films you have already seen 5 years ago.
If you like, or love this movie, again the bluray is must own for the picture upgrade. For new fans don't waste time on terrible dvd, this is all you need.
Favorite scene, Lionel taking the baby zombie to the park to play. That, and poor Lionel trying to glue Mum's face in time for dinner guests. What's a meal without pudding?
Forget everything else Peter Jackson's done, this is his masterpiece.
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