“Damn fine custard. Rich and creamy, just the way I like it!” - Mr. Matheson
Long before Peter Jackson was the Lord of The Lord of The Rings, he was just a young filmmaker creating low budget horror-comedies. One of those films was Braindead (Known as Dead Alive in the US), which had scenes like this:
My apologies if some of you were eating pudding, porridge or custard. Or anything for that matter.
Despite being a commercial failure at the time of release, Braindead has become a certified cult classic, inspiring many future horror-comedies, and showcasing a young Peter Jackson’s visual, directorial talents.
In 1957, A group of explorers led by Stewart McAlden (Bill Ralston), are deep in the jungles of Skull Island (Yes, that Skull Island) looking for the “Sumatran Rat-Monkey”. The Sumatran Rat-Monkey is an animal of legend, that was born from the result of a monkey who raped some rats. Stewart and his team finally capture one of the rats in a cage. As they rush to their vehicle, to bring the rat back to New Zealand, it ends up biting Stewart in the arms which are then quickly amputee by his crew. Unfortunately, Stewart has also been scratched in the face, so his crew have no choice but to cut off his head. In spite of Stewart death, the captured Sumatran Rat-Monkey is shipped to a zoo in New Zealand.
In New Zealand lives Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme), a put upon man who waits hand and foot on his domineering mother, Vera (Elizabeth Moody). Lionel is in love with a local shopkeeper’s daughter, Paquita María Sánchez (Diana Peñalver). One day he finally builds up the courage to invite Paquita on a date to the zoo. Vera who doesn’t like the idea of her son dating follows the couple to the zoo where she is bitten by the Sumatran Rat-Monkey.
We quickly find out why Stewart’s team was so quick to decapitated him, when the bite starts to slowly turn Vera into a brain eating zombie. Lionel does his best to keep up appearances, but Vera slowly begins to deteriorate and become more rabid. While Lionel is out, Vera escapes from the locked basement that he keeps her in, and is hit by a train.
Using tranquilizers Lionel is able to keep Vera sedated for her funeral. After she is buried, he returns at night to give her another dose, but is followed by some local thugs. Unable to give Vera another dose of tranquilizers, she explodes from her grave, and attacks the local punks, turning them in to zombies as well.
As Lionel does his best to keep the Zombie outbreak from getting out of control, he is visited by his slimy uncle who wants to blackmail him for his part of his mother’s inheritance. As Lionel begins to lose it mentally, he finally decides to kill the zombies once and for all. Unfortunately, all hell is about to break loose, good thing he brought his lawnmower.
If there is one thing that Braindead is known for it is extremely over-the-top gore played for laughs. There are some many mind numbly gruesome scenes, but here is my favorite:
Peter Jackson Braindead is truly one of the best horror-comedy’s ever made, and I cannot recommend it enough. Imaginatively directed and gloriously over-the-top it is easy to see why so many films have been influenced by Braindead. If you are squeamish then Braindead is almost certainly not the film for you, but if you love dripping brains, exploding guts, vile puss, buckets of blood, decaying flesh, and even more blood than make some time to watch this hilarious film, bring a poncho.
In a sentence
Braindead is the perfect midnight creature feature, filled with gruesome practical effects, over the top performances, and lots and lots of fake blood.
Rotten tomatoes: 86%
My Rating: 4.5 Lawnmowers Out Of 5
“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot
This has been day 23 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.