Dead Alive

Movie Information

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Dead Alive Thursday, April 21, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville, and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Score:

Genre: Ultra-splattery Horror Comedy
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Timothy Balme, Diana Penalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin, Brenda Kendall
Rated: NR

Before he turned all respectable—and a good bit less fun—Peter Jackson made his mark on the cult-movie world with cheerfully gory movies that reached their apex with Dead Alive (1992), the American moniker that got affixed to his uber-juicy zombie flick Brain Dead when it lurched into U.S. theaters in early 1993. When I say “uber-juicy” I’m not foolin’ around. Prior to this, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985) was considered the absolute ultimate gory movie, with its much-vaunted 50 gallons of fake blood. In terms of sheer splattery goodness, Dead Alive upped the ante with 10 times the blood—and so far as I know, it still holds the record. It’s not exactly serious horror in that it’s purest splatstick, but its zombies are menacing and the gore is sometimes cringe-inducing. The story is all about a nebbishy, mother-controlled guy (Timothy Balme), who threatens mom’s (Elizabeth Moody) control when he takes up with a pretty girl (Diana Penalver). But while following the couple, mom gets bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey at the zoo—and wouldn’t you know it, such a bite guarantees the old gal will become an avaricious zombie, who, in turn, will make more zombies, despite the son’s best efforts to control things. It never lets up and it never disappoints—and anyway how can you not love a movie with the line, “Your mother ate my dog”?

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

2 thoughts on “Dead Alive

  1. Jay

    I’m guessing Piranha 3D must’ve beaten Dead Alive in the gallons of blood department. Then again, it was all a red blood/water kind of combination.

    Either way, Dead Alive is a wonderful and crazy piece of moviemaking.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I’m guessing Piranha 3D must’ve beaten Dead Alive in the gallons of blood department. Then again, it was all a red blood/water kind of combination.

    I think it’s more water than blood, but I’m not watching Piranha 3D again to make the call. Having just watched Dead Alive the other day, I think you’d have to actually set out to top it.

    Either way, Dead Alive is a wonderful and crazy piece of moviemaking.

    Which is more than I’d say for the other. In any case, since I’m told this is our one year anniversary THPS screening, come see it if you can.

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