Jesse is a freelance writer, journalist and occasional artist from Perth, Western Australia. He enjoys movies, video games and punk rock. You can see the inner-workings of his mind unfold on his blog
Published February 15th 2013
They're not dead, they're just sort of rotting
'Day of the Dead', 'The Beyond', 'Evil Dead 2', 'Demons'. Perfect examples of some of the goriest undead-related horror movies ever made. Nice and gross; plenty of over-the-top carnage; absolute classics. "Well, that's nice and everything, but I need more blood with my zombie horror". If you find yourself thinking this on a regular basis, you may need to seek help. Or you may just need to go and rent a copy of Peter Jackson's splatstick masterpiece, Braindead.
To put it simply: Braindead has the most blood and gore that I have ever seen in a film. Hands down. No contest. Take your trophy and go. Faces get pulled off; body parts are stripped to the bone; fists are forced through mouths; zombies are – literally – blended. That's not to say it's the most violent movie I've ever seen though – in fact quite the opposite. It's one of the most hilariously gratuitous comedies put to screen, and the crowning jewel of the splatstick genre.
Our bloody tale centres on Lionel – a young man who lives with his abusive mother. Problems arise when Mum is bitten by a 'Sumatran Rat Monkey' and she starts getting sick. Lionel takes care of her until she starts rotting and showing signs of, well cannibalism. Mum bites a few more people and to his dismay, Lionel finds himself with a nicely growing collection of the undead. The narrative here refreshingly turns the zombie genre upside-down with our hero hiding the zombies in his basement, trying to keep them inside his house away from everyone, instead of keeping them out. As expected, nothing quite goes to plan and lots of people die. In very creative and disgusting ways.
There are only a few movies that even come close to replicating the level of carnage in Braindead. You've got Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead 2, the British horror-comedy Evil Aliens, the very similar Olaf Ittenbach picture Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead and Jackson's own Bad Taste to name a few, but none hold a candle to the amount of bloodletting shown here. If you've seen any of these movies (and if you're a gorehound, I suggest you do) then you know that's quite a statement. Still, the finale alone – in which, our hero weaponises a lawnmower and turns hundreds of hapless undead foes to soup – could stand up against all these other films with pride.
Though there is a huge heap of the red stuff in Braindead, it's used with such love and gleeful enjoyment, that it makes the movie a whole lot of tasteless fun. Peter Jackson had proven his love for bad taste humour and splatstick with his previous two films Meet the Feebles, and the aptly titled Bad Taste, and everything he applied and experimented with in those two films culminates beautifully with Braindead. The cheesy, yet cunningly subversive zombie plot, the overacting, the brilliantly creative, cartoonish gore and one of the greatest finales in horror history make for one helluva fun ride.
The splatstick humour itself owes a lot to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movies – especially Evil Dead 2 – and you can see that's where Jackson draws a lot of his inspiration. Though where Raimi's Three Stooges-esque slapstick combined with over-the-top nasty gore made for some cheap (though genuine) laughs, Braindead seems to evolve from that and makes it less about the slap and more about the splat. One scene in particular – in which our zombie slayer attempts to dispose of one of the creatures by chopping it into as small pieces as he can, only to still be attacked by the zombie's lungs and intestines – shows quite literally that the gore itself can bring the laughs, not just the acts producing it. There are still some silly gags – such as the hero slipping in very large quantities of blood from the aforementioned chainsaw scenario – and this makes for a nice blend of satisfyingly easy humour.
"I've heard of an opened-face sandwich, but this is ridiculous!"
Peter Jackson's Braindead is a splatter masterpiece. Both horrifically repulsive, and cartoonishly hilarious – often all at the same time – this is without a doubt the splatstick movie. The poster child of a sub-genre and a true classic. The combined genius of inspired homage, and Jackson's own imagination and love for the craft make for one of, if not the most enjoyably disgusting gore movie ever made.