New Zealand 1992
Director: Peter Jackson
If seeing a film widely known as ‘the goriest ever made’ interests you, keep reading. Part Psycho, part Evil Dead, part farce, Peter Jackson’s Braindead (1992), is an amazingly imaginative and supremely disgusting gorehound’s dream.
Shot in New Zealand on a low budget almost a decade before Lord of the Rings, this horror comedy opens with a dismemberment and decapitation scene and only gets bloodier from there.
Lionel’s a good lad, burdened with an overbearing mother Norman Bates would run screaming from. But it seems that his mum’s been exposed to the bite of a Sumatran rat monkey, which we all know carries the dreaded zombie virus. Soon Lionel’s got quite a handful to take care of, hiding a group of flesh-eating zombies in his basement, a menagerie that includes a rotting priest, his undead lover and their rambunctious zombie baby. And that’s when things get weird.
It seems hard to believe Peter Jackson could go from directing this amazing piece of cult filmmaking to the sweeping and epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy. If there’s one thing that translates from this film to the massively successful trilogy, it’s a love of filmmaking and attention to detail. Even on such a low budget and dealing with a ridiculous plot, Jackson manages to craft an excellent and thought-provoking film.
This film also boasts some of the most memorable sequences in ‘90s horror films. From the amazing Father McGruder (‘I kick arse for the Lord!’) to the infamous five minute ‘lawnmower sequence,’ Braindead is not a film easily forgotten.
Strangely enough, the ‘unrated’ North American release of Braindead, called Dead Alive, is less gruesome than the UK and New Zealand releases. I had never seen the full, uncut version of Braindead until coming to England, instead suffering through the ‘edited’ Canadian release. Unfortunately, the Region 2 DVD print I’ve found is of a much poorer quality than even my NTSC VHS version; here’s hoping there’ll be a complete DVD re-release of Braindead, with restored audio and video and a nice extras package.
So, upon reading this, should you still find yourself debating whether or not to see Braindead, let me offer some advice:
Go see it. Not only can you tell your friends you’ve seen the bloodiest movie ever made, you’ll have a helluva good time watching Braindead.
That is, assuming you can stomach it.
(Originally written in 2004.)Colin Le Sueur