We all know Peter Jackson. Hell, we all love Peter Jackson. Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong, The Beatles. But were you aware he also directed one of the most gory, disgusting, and delightful zombie movies ever? Way back in 1992, under the name of Braindead (renamed Dead Alive in North America for some reason).
Filmed on a tiny budget in the wilds of New Zealand, the story is grotesquely simple: Lionel is a nice young man with an awful mother who terrifies him. She is bitten by a weird monkey-bat hybrid (you know: the usual), which turns her into a truly disgusting, rapidly decaying zombie, whom he alternately protects and defies and ultimately destroys while she infects much of the rest of Wellington. This is a wildly, wildly gory movie that pushes the premise as far as it will go, then delivers a nice little one-two punch of a twist ending. And all of it from the genius filmmaker that continues to enrich us.
Is this the best zombie movie ever made? Nah. And maybe not even the bloodiest anymore, given the relatively recent advent of goreporn. But it is a real guilty pleasure, and interesting to see what Jackson was like back in his pre-Bilbo days.