Sunday, November 14, 2004

Dead Alive

I just got done watching Dead Alive--a Peter Jackson zombie movie from the early 90s. When I first heard about it, I thought "Oh, man! Peter Jackson and zombies? What a combination." Well, I'm sorry to say that I was completely disappointed in the movie. While I was watching it, I was having a hard time figuring out why it was so bad, but I think I figured it out: The movie had absolutely no respect for the genre.

Even in something as throwaway as a zombie movie, you have to follow certain rules. And Jackson pretty much threw them all to the wind in the interest of making an incredibly gory movie that was exceptionally low on real scares and high on cringeworthy scenes. Dead Alive's biggest offense is that it broke the cardinal rule of zombies: Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul. Not only were headless zombies abundant, but seemingly random intestines suddenly became "zombified" and attacked people. People whose skin had been completely torn off so that they were basically a walking spinal column with a head were passed off as effective zombies. Just doesn't work.

As if breaking the cardinal rule of zombies wasn't bad enough, Jackson also was tripped up by one of the most common misconception in making horror films--and that is a gory film is a scary film. The movie was so gory that after a while, I had to turn away from the screen. By the end of the movie, everyone's covered in blood and you forget what the real point of the movie was to begin with. The movie also messed around with the whole zombie mystique, which while not entirely a bad thing just didn't work in this movie.

Clearly, I won't be watching that again, and it's a good thing that Jackson's improved as a filmmaker--his Lord of the Rings trilogy will certainly be a film classic.

Next up on my zombie movie fest: Resident Evil--I have it on good authority (aka Wendy) that this is a good movie so I'm eager to watch it.

1 comment:

Brian said...

I have to admit, I saw "Dead Alive" when it first made it to American theatres, and I loved it. But I am not a zombie afficionado, and it is definitely one of his earlier movies, when most of his interests seemed to be in creatively using tech to gross out his audience. I could barely make it through "Meet the Feebles," which could probably be characterized as The Muppet Show as created by John Waters.

But yeah, there is that whole respect for form thing. I guess it's telling that I have no interest in what happened to any of the actors in that movie. It was really just an over-the-top exercise in bad taste, for which I must have been in the mood. It was like an extended Saturday Night Live skit that actually worked.