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             Peter Jackson is, without question, a visionary director.  His take on the the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy is some of the greatest filmmaking in modern times.  His remake of KING KONG, while deeply flawed, has wonderful, moving moments that the original never fully conceptualized.  That Peter Jackson is an important contemporary storyteller is beyond dispute.  It is easy to forget, then, that he started his career in Horror.  Not just Horror, but micro-budget Horror - and not just micro-budget Horror, but really twisted and gory Horror.  He made several of these in his early filmmaking life, and there is no better example of this than his splatter-filled zombie film, DEAD ALIVE.

            DEAD ALIVE is not a great movie.  It suffers all of the problems that most low-budget films suffer from; sketchy acting, subpar visual effects, etc.  Despite this, DEAD ALIVE is a very entertaining and funny film.  This is due partly to the tight scripting by Fran Walsh, Stephen Sinclair, and Jackson himself.  It is mostly, however, due to the fact that this film is the first of Peter Jackson’s early work that gives us a real glimpse of what he would become.

    This film showcases much of the cinematic technique that would later become Peter Jackson’s signature style; Sweeping, dramatic camera moves, shots held for longer than most directors would dare, and the use of New Zealand’s natural wonders just for starters.  However, some of Jackson’s bad habits haunt this film, too.  The pacing can drag at times, and there is his tendency to overdevelop supporting characters that don’t amount to much, but these shortfalls are more than made up for in the film’s delirious climax.

    When the zombie attack inevitably arrives and the heroes must fight for survival, Peter Jackson gives us some of the greatest, most inventive, and hilarious kill gags in the history of zombie films.  It is a relentless, kinetic romp of gore, violence, and comedy that is the zombie equivalent of the Mines of Moria fight in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - culminating in the greatest use of a lawnmower you’ll ever see in film.  So expertly planned and staged is this battle sequence (yes, ’battle’ is a good word for it) that once it is finished, we almost feel winded at the action that just happened - and just as happy for our own survival as the protagonists.

    DEAD ALIVE is not a film for everyone, but it is a very important one in the filmography of one of our great directors.  Peter Jackson has never waned in his abiding love for Horror movies.  He regularly (and gleefully) seeks out and supports new directors in the genre.  It is wonderful that he does this, but at the same time, wouldn’t we all agree that perhaps it is time for him to revisit the Horror genre now that he has more resources available to him?  Just a thought…

    Oh, what a thought that is!!

DEAD ALIVE fun facts - In subsequent films either directed or produced by Peter Jackson, watch for a reference to the Sumatran Rat-Monkey.  It is a nod to the animal that is the genesis of the zombie mess in DEAD ALIVE.

In the climactic scene, fake blood was pumped through the lawnmower at five gallons per second.

Lionel- “That‘s my mother you‘re pissing on!”

Mum -   “This place is infested with vermin!”

Lionel - “They‘re not dead exactly, they‘re just sort of rotting…”

Poll

I prefer my Horror movies to be...

19%5 votes
7%2 votes
19%5 votes
34%9 votes
15%4 votes

| 26 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh, man (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cmcolin, Avila

    My son made me watch this one.  His selling point was, "It's considered the bloodiest movie ever because it uses more fake blood than any other movie in cinematic history."

    Can't say I loved this one.  It certainly had it's moments, but it wasn't really my cup of tea.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 10:29:44 AM PDT

  •  I kick ARSE for the Lord! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cmcolin, Bin Bin, Avila, coquiero, slapshoe

    I easily put this movie up there with Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, and Return of the Living Dead as my favorite horror comedy.  Try to get at least one viewing in a year.

    Unrelenting cartoon gore to the point its cathartic.  And you get a great sense of Peter Jackson's creative style and energy.

    Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 10:45:41 AM PDT

  •  May be the goriest movie ever made... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bin Bin, Avila, coquiero, slapshoe

    The climax is simply unbelievable. The red stuff spewed would bankrupt half a dozen blood banks.

    Jackson's early horror work is very much like Sam Raimi's work with the Evil Dead trilogy and Drag Me to Hell; full of gore, but so over the top that you can't help but laugh at it.

    A later and more polished Jackson film I'm quite fond of is The Frighteners, his last gig before getting LOTR. It's a great mix of horror and comedy, Michael J. Fox in what turned out to be his last big screen leading role, a very eclectic cast (especially Re-Animator star Jeffrey Combs as a kooky FBI agent so paranoid he makes Fox Mulder seem level-headed) and some great special effects. A great Halloween movie. (Added note: it was originally supposed to be released around Halloween, but because the Stallone action dud Daylight got delayed it got bumped up to the summer to fill that weekend's slot and got lost among the summer blockbusters.)

  •  Disagree. Its a classic. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, coquiero

    thank you writing this!

    If you can believe it, I actually have very fond family memories that involve this film. It'd always be the late night choice during my twice annual visits to cousins in Wisconsin. Our shared purpose in those days (four boys mind you) was to scare the shit out of and/or physically harm one another.

    Good times...

    Come a Willing Servant, Go an Able Culprit.

    by Bin Bin on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 11:00:51 AM PDT

  •  Any chance you could include the previous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero

    list of movies in each day's post? I don't always catch the list...

  •  I adore Dead Alive (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cmcolin, coquiero

    for so many reasons...Lionel's horrifying mother (she's even scarier BEFORE she gets zombified), his increasingly desperate attempts to keep up appearances, the monumental Lawnmower Holocaust sequence, just everything. However, I think it's been eclipsed as the goriest movie I've ever seen by something called Tokyo Gore Police.

    Paquita: "Your mother ate my DOG!"
    Lionel: "Not all of it."

    "I believe they talked of me, for they laughed consumedly."--George Farquhar

    by slapshoe on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 03:36:01 PM PDT

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