Brain Dead

Year: 1992
Production Co: Wingnut Films
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Peter Jackson/Frances Walsh
Cast: Timothy Balme
Some time after Peter Jackson made his breakout hit Bad Taste using duct tape and tomato sauce with friends who worked for free on weekends and quite awhile before Universal Studios gave him $200m to remake the story of the movies' most famous monster, he occupied this in-between territory. Raising a couple of million off the back of his cult popularity of Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles gave him the chance to command more professional effects and scripting for his zombie apocalypse.

And the 'in-betweenness' affects the quality as well. While there isn't the anything goes, guerrilla urgency of Bad Taste, there's not by any stretch the restrained professionalism of editing and screenwriting of Kong or the Rings films either.

But it's as much a comedy as Bad Taste was, and not just because of the jokes but the outrageousness of the gore. Just watch hero Lionel (Balme) attacking the hordes at the end with his trust lawnmower - you can see the jets of fake blood showering the entire scene from high-pressure hoses.

When a naturalist brings a Sumatran Rat Monkey back to New Zealand (from Skull Island – spot the connection, trivia fans), it bites Lionel's domineering mother from its cage at the zoo while she's there to spy on Lionel as he woos his new beau, Paquita.

Then we learn why the naturalist met such a horrible fate at the hands of his servants after suffering a bite in the beginning. Lionel's mother rapidly sickens, starts to fall apart and dies, promptly sitting up to attack him and the nurse tending her.

While his relationship with Paquita blossoms, Lionel tries to keep his undead mother and her increasing number of victims under wraps in the basement of the mansion he and his mother share, but when the opportunistic Uncle Les shows up with his eyes on Lionel's inheritance and a party full of hangers-on in tow, it can only turn ugly.

It's a more interesting entry into the CV of a soon-to-be great director than a movie in itself. You've seen comic horror of this kind before - though perhaps not this gleefully bloody or gross.

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