Dead Alive (1993)

Dead Alive (1993)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: The delightfully gonzo tale of a lovestruck teen and his zombified mother, Dead Alive is extremely gory and exceedingly good fun, thanks to Peter Jackson's affection for the tastelessly sublime.

Dead Alive Photos

Movie Info

Considered by many to be the goriest film ever made and one of the funniest "splatstick" horror films since Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 (1986), Peter Jackson's New Zealand-lensed zombie epic Dead Alive is a hilariously over-the-top splatterfest that outdoes even the director's aptly-titled Bad Taste (which featured such gag-inducing sights as communal vomit-eating, exploding sheep and a chainsaw C-section). The story centers on a milquetoast mama's boy (Timothy Balme) whose budding romance with the lovely Paquita (Diana Penalver) is severely tested by the rapid decomposition and increasingly gross behavior of his oppressive mother (Elizabeth Moody), whose recent encounter with a "Sumatran Rat Monkey" transforms her into a rabid, flesh-eating zombie. Unable to bring himself to chop his undead mum into little pieces, he tries vainly (and disgustingly) to keep her alive until she begins chowing down on everyone within reach -- but even a dutiful son's love has its limitations. Concentrating his efforts on imprisoning her and the growing legions of her undead victims in the cellar -- away from both the nervous Paquita and the prying eyes of a greedy uncle (Ian Watkin) who has his sights on the old lady's inheritance -- he finally begins to realize that the whole affair is going to end very, very badly. Jackson's hyperkinetic directing style and the laugh-a-minute script lend a jovial, throw-away feel to the literal avalanche of sticky gore (the lawnmower climax must have set some kind of record for sheer blood volume) and severed limbs & organs splashing across the screen (there's even a fine bit of acting from a constantly-flatulent pile of intestines) with such gleeful abandon that it all becomes one enormous, tasteless joke. Although it certainly limits the range of its audience appeal (i.e. anyone who laughed out loud at the "Mr. Creosote" skit in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life will be delighted), Dead Alive is great fun for horror buffs with a well-disciplined gag reflex. Believe it or not, Jackson followed this film with the elegant, tragic art-house hit Heavenly Creatures (1992).
Rating:
R (for an abundance of outrageous gore)
Genre:
Comedy , Horror , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

Timothy Balme
as Lionel Cosgrove
Diana Peñalver
as Paquita Maria Sanchez
Elizabeth Moody
as Vera Cosgrove
Ian Watkin
as Uncle Les
Brenda Kendall
as Nurse McTavish
Stuart Devenie
as Father McGruderombie McGruder
Jed Brophy
as Void
Murray Keane
as Scroat
Tony Hiles
as Zoo Keeper
Glenis Levestam
as Mrs Matheson
Lewis Rowe
as Mr Matheson
George Port
as Lawrence
Nick Ward
as Spud
Davina Whitehouse
as Grandmother
Peter Jackson
as Undertaker's Assistant
James Grant
as Tram Driver
Jim Booth
as Lionel's Father
Frances Walsh
as Mother at Park
Chris Short
as Customs Official
Jamie Selkirk
as Father at Zoo
Sarah Scott Davis
as Featured Party Zombie
Ken Hammon
as Featured Party Zombie
James Grant
as Tram Driver
Tony Hiles
as Zoo Keeper
George Port
as Lawrence
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Critic Reviews for Dead Alive

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (4)

The best to date from Kiwi gore specialist Peter Jackson.

Full Review… | July 21, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

The finale, in which Lionel reduces a horde of flesh-eaters to a mulch of blood, flesh and offal with the aid of a flymo, is probably the goriest scene ever.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Because all of this looks blatantly unreal, and because the timing of the shock effects is so haphazard, Dead Alive isn't especially scary or repulsive. Nor is it very funny.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Horror films used to be primordial spook shows, tapping midnight-dark fears. Now they tap bodily goo: rivers of blood, dripping limbs, eyeballs that go pop in the night.

Full Review… | February 11, 1993
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Takes a few views to really appreciate, but Peter Jackson's blood-splattered horror masterpiece is a gory good time.

Full Review… | January 29, 2012

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 20, 2011
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Dead Alive

½

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Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Who would have thought that Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson started his career off by making campy, gory horror schlock films like this? This film, despite the copious and over the top amounts of blood and gore, is actually quite hilarious and enjoyable. The plot follows a village dweeb who tries to have a budding romance, while also trying to conceal the fact that his overbearing mother is a flesh-eating zombie. The tone of the film is deliriously cartoonish and over the top.I think that's what makes it surprising considering that it's also probably the goriest film I've ever seen, if not the goriest of all time. Seriously. I can't believe how gruesome and messy this film gets, and I actually feel even more twisted for finding it all so friggin' amusing. The effects are very well done, and really make you appreciate the effort that goes into this sort of thing. The acting is also surprisingly really good, and there's some good lines, too.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

"Dead Alive" is a weird, gory, disgusting movie. It's also pretty funny. As far as zombie films go this is one of my favorites. Peter Jackson pre-LOTR era. It's some brutal stuff.

Eric Shankle
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

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