Dead Alive (1992)

Genres - Comedy, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Horror Comedy  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - New Zealand  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Tom Wiener

If a gorier movie than Dead Alive has been made, it's hard to imagine it. On the other hand, if a funnier horror film than Dead Alive has been made, only a few candidates would qualify. (Return of the Living Dead would be one.) Peter Jackson and his collaborators have no constraints about piling up one outrageous sight gag involving body parts and gruesome dispatchings after another, and even if this kind of comedy isn't for all tastes, it does provide a smorgasboard of laughs for those who love their humor dark and exaggerated. Like the great animator Tex Avery, Jackson has a wicked eye for gags that stretch our conception of what bodies can do. He also understands that simply killing zombies with a shot to the head -- as in the grandfather of modern zombie horror films, Night of the Living Dead -- is elegantly simple, but pretty boring, too. Kitchen appliances and household tools figure heavily in the slaughterhouse of a party that is the raison d'etre of the film, but it's the power lawnmower finale which reduces everyone to a mere blade of grass in the lawn of life. Jackson realized that he had gone as far as he could with this genre and his next film, Heavenly Creatures, was a well-crafted psychological thriller which retained his eye for arresting visuals.