February 23, 2003

Before there were hobbits…there were garden gnomes.

There’s an uncanny resemblance between garden gnomes and hobbits – admit it. And before gaining fame with hobbits, Peter Jackson had a little fun with garden gnomes. There’s a zombie with a garden gnome for a head in Dead Alive and Michael J. Fox runs over the Lynskeys’ garden gnome in The Frighteners. I’ll have to check his other films more closely for garden gnome appearances…

There’s more to love in this film than just the garden gnome. There’s blood, there’s gore, there’s sex…zombie sex! There’s dancing, there’s romancing, there’s a murder mystery. And did I forget the Sumatran Rat Monkey? The Sumatran Rat Monkey starts it all. One bite from the Rat Monkey starts a chain reaction of hard-core zombie action.

Scream is widely hailed as the beginning of the self-reflexive movement in modern horror films, but I beg to differ. Four years before and a continent away, Peter Jackson beat Wes Craven to the punch with Dead Alive. Unlike the more popular Scream, Dead Alive realizes the joke without poking the viewer in the ribs and saying “Gee, I’m referencing every horror movie that was ever made – see how clever I am?” Lionel’s mother is more evil than Norman Bates’, the zombies are more bloodthirsty than in Night of the Living Dead and Baby Selwyn is a lot scarier than Chucky ever was. I’d have to admit that Ash’s chainsaw kicks more ass than Lionel’s lawnmower, but it’s a helluva lot more practical.

There are several different cuts of Dead Alive floating around. I’ve seen the US rated and unrated editions, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of the longer, gorier overseas release, entitled Braindead. As far as I’ve seen, it’s only been available in Region 2 format. Bitches.

Year – 1992
Rating – Unrated
Runtime – 104 minutes
Genre – Horror
Director(s) – Peter Jackson
Writer(s) – Stephen Sinclair
Actor(s) – Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody
BOB Rating – Four BOBs
Favorite Quote – "I kick arse for the Lord!" - Father McGruder (Stuart Devenie)