I bet that when you think of Peter Jackson that the over-the-top, New Zealand zombie gorefest that is Dead Alive, which Jackson co-wrote and directed, isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. And that makes me kind of sad. Not only is this one of my all time favourites because of its excess blood and violence, but also because its somehow endearing characters and its campy undertone manage to pull this movie off in a way that makes it just plain fun to watch every time. I do think of this as a funny movie, but that could just be because I find a lot of things hilarious that I shouldn’t. Either way, I’ve never watched this one without laughing out loud, being entertained as hell from start to finish, and letting out many an “Ugh, that’s disguuuuusting!” And really, what more could anyone want from a horror flick?
The opening scene is a short and not-so-sweet one involving a rat-monkey kidnapping (yes, rat-monkey) and an involuntary (and very bloody) dismemberment, before we the viewers and the rat-monkey abductee are transported to Wellington, New Zealand.
The main character, Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme), is pathetic. What? He is. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love him anyway. He’s awkward and shy, he’s homely, and he’s a complete mama’s boy. And yet, mainly due to a tarot card reading and an accident involving a jar of pencils, our other main character, the beautiful Paquita Maria Sanchez (Diana Penalver), is crazy about him. When he unintentionally asks her on a date to the local zoo, she more than happily accepts.
Now Lionel isn’t a mama’s boy because she’s wonderful to him, he’s a mama’s boy because she’s scary as hell. And when Mama Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody) finds out there is another woman in her precious Lionel’s life, she is none too pleased about it. Vera takes it upon herself to secretly join in on Lionel and Paquita’s romantic afternoon at the zoo, where of course nothing good happens. Because it’s a horror movie. About zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.
So before I give away the entire storyline I’ll mention a few of my favourite moments, in a way that’s as spoiler-free and intriguing as possible so that if you haven’t watched this movie yet (Why haven’t you watched this movie yet?!) you will be shocked, amused, and disgusted in the proper ways when you do. And if you have seen it, I know you’ll smile at least once reading this list.
Ok, here goes:
-Mother does her make-up
-“I kick ass for the lord!”
-That meal scene with the priest and the nurse…
-The human jack-o-lantern
-When Lionel tries to run but can’t
-That almost kind of cute but mostly horrifying gut-thing
-Lionel’s “Party’s ov-ah.” weapon of choice
-And finally: “No one will ever love you like your mother!”
Haven’t seen it? Watch it. Seen it? Watch it again.