Oh Peter Jackson, how I do love your early days. Given, of late, he’s been obsessed with creating the longest fantasy epics out there, and we’re a bit fatigued by that, but there was a point in time when he was more content with the simple things in life, like buckets of fake blood. Hence we have the good ol’ days of Braindead (1992), also known as Dead Alive in some other countries. It’s the hilarious story of Lionel (Timothy Balme), a quiet man trying to balance life with a zombie mother and romance with the new girl in town. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
#1 – Gallows humor
Jackson’s sense of humor is terrifically warped; truly, I love the man when he lets those pieces of his personality fly. The jokes contained in the film may strike some as being in poor taste, or a bit on the dad-joke side, but that’s the fun of it: it’s out for a cheap laugh and doesn’t really care if you cringe. The point is that you’re giggling. And giggle you shall.
#2 – Gore effects
I don’t need realistic gore effects. In fact, sometimes it’s better if it’s not realistic – you get reassured that the action isn’t real. Braindead certainly falls into the category of non-realistic gore effects, and delightfully so. You know that this isn’t real, so you can have fun rather than be scared. In fact, Jackson did a lot of his early effects using whatever he had (stories abound of his parents letting him use their oven to make prosthetics for his early work). As such, we get pus that looks like custard, blood that looks like thick strawberry syrup, and questionable chunks that are made to be hunks of flesh. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
#3 – The mother from hell
Speaking of mothers, Lionel’s mom, Vera (Elizabeth Moody) is the kind that you want to avoid like the plague. She’s played by Moody to peak controlling perfection: she has to regulate conversation, spies on dates, and can’t let her precious baby boy go even in death. Hats off to love interest Paquita (Diana Peñalver), who loves Lionel so much that she’s willing to put up with his beyond domineering mother. Really, if Vera was your prospective mother-in-law, you’d be hoping for something to kill her quickly.
#4 – The one liners
Remember how I said there were dad-joke level puns in this film? Oh my babies, they are FANTASTIC. I’m so tempted to quote them right now but I love you too much to spoil them. If you’re familiar with the film, you’re already running through them in your head. Just do yourself a favor and watch it before I spoil it. Really, if you tweet me, I will just quote it right back to you.
#5 – You will never look at a lawn mower the same again
Heh. This film got me banned from picking the movie by one friend who was obsessed with musicals and violently hated any type of horror film. The grand finale features a lawn mower and at least twelve buckets of fake blood. I watch this part and think, “Why can’t this be my work day?” Really, that’s the dream. My dream, anyway.
Braindead is a bit tough to find, but you can get most of it on YouTube if you don’t own it already.