Before the impressive Lord of the Rings trilogy (and the slew of Oscars he received) made Peter Jackson a household name, he was already a revered icon among horror fans for the brilliant, insane zombie opus Dead Alive (aka Braindead). The movie is probably the finest example ever of the splatstick genre, that peculiarly effective blend of over-the-top horror and comedy. From the goofy, animated Sumatran Rat-Monkey that creates the initial zombie through such bizarre territory as a creepy, unsettling big-head zombie baby, a kung-fu priest and a lawnmower massacre, then on to its reverse-birth climax, this is a film that just gets more and more surreal as it plays out. Its also a near lock for the goriest movie ever made: Hundreds and hundreds of gallons of blood are splashed over everything, not to mention a fair bit of pus, viscera and assorted slime. Funny, gory and absolutely gonzo, the question most people will be pondering after seeing it is how Jackson ever secured the enormous budget for his mainstream masterpiece after producing such a warped, gruesomely subversive movie as this. Maybe it goes to show that, occasionally, Hollywood can get things right.
Dead Alive screens tonight and tomorrow at midnight at the Esquire Theatre, 590 Downing Street. Call 303-352-1992.
Fri., Oct. 17; Sat., Oct. 18, 2008