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BRAINDEAD*
(Peter Jackson, 1992)


In 1950s New Zealand, timid young Lionel has to cope with his domineering mother, his new girlfriend and a growing zombie epidemic that he tries to contain in his basement.

Last week, I finally got around to watching Peter Jackson's infamous debut feature, Bad Taste. In its own right, it was fairly amusing and was well-done for a low-budget special-effects movie, but not quite as great as I expected it to be. Regardless, it got me in the mood to watch Jackson's even more infamous zombie horror, Braindead.

Where do I start with Braindead, though? Quite simply, I was blown away from start to finish. For all the acclaim that Jackson gets in recent years for Lord of the Rings, I personally think Braindead was just as noteworthy an accomplishment, if not more so. It's best likened to the gore-filled horror-comedy typical of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 or Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator, but I reckon Braindead tops both in terms of gore and comedy.

That's what's great about Braindead - Jackson pulls out all the stops to create some truly unforgettable setpieces. He throws most of the zombie "rules" out the window and throws together such ridiculously over-the-top effects that, to quote a tagline for the film, you'll laugh yourself sick. There are too many to list in a single review, so I'll let the film itself do the talking. If you must have any indication of just how laughably crazy the violence in Braindead is, check out the movie's signature scene, where Lionel takes on a room filled with zombies armed with a lawnmower. In terms of horror comedy, it tops Bruce Campbell using a chainsaw for a hand or Simon Pegg swinging an old cricket bat.

In all other respects, the film is solid enough. The actors aren't anything too special yet they manage a solid enough job, ranging from meek mummy's boy Lionel to the overbearing Vera to the sleazy Uncle Les (and who can forget Father "I kick arse for the Lord" Magruder?). Same with the technical aspects. But anyone who would consider watching this movie won't really be worried about how convincing the characters are or how well the film is made anyway. When you watch Braindead, you're in for one hell of a ride. I think I used up all the words that do any justice to the warped genius behind the movie, but for the record here they are again - Braindead is a truly unforgettable, ridiculously over-the-top, laughably crazy horror comedy.



* Known in North America as Dead Alive