Somewhere on Skull Island in 1957 (yes, THAT Skull Island), two men carry a bamboo cage down a mountain. One of the men is terrified of the animal they have inside, a rat monkey, believing it evil. But the white man will have none of it, not even when they are surrounded by natives who demand its return. The white man has a permit and is a zoo official for New Zealand!
Taking the cage by himself, he runs down the mountain with the natives in hot pursuit. Things do not go well for the Zoo Official.
The unseen creature winds up sold to the Wellington Zoo and is flown out, minus one zoo official.
Back in Wellington, in a small grocer store, the young and eager Paquita (Diana Peñalver: FOTOS, BENEATH STILL WATERS), swooning for the local meat delivery man Roger (Harry Sinclair: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING), lets her Grandmother tell her fortune by the tarot cards.
Roger is not the one, but Grandma lets Paquita know how to recognize her one true love. That one true comes in the form of nerdy and clumsy Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme: THE VECTOR FILE). At first Paquita thinks nothing of him, but Lionel's clumsiness provides the mishap that reveals the sign and Paquita is smitten. Seeing the abrupt change in Paquita, Lionel can only stumble back in trepidation, backwards toward the town, out the door and into the street where he is nearly hit by a passing trolley: Paquita swooning all of the way.
We leave Paquita and her overactive hormones for the house life of Lionel and his wretched and controlling Mum (Elizabeth Moody: HEAVENLY CREATURES, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS). Mum constantly derides Lionel's every move while dreamily talking about herself.
Paquita arrives to bring the groceries that Lionel ordered. Her brother does the deliveries but Paquita is in hot pursuit. Mother sees Paquita through a window and knows competition for her son when she sees it.
So begins the rickety romance of Lionel and Paquita.
Soon they are on their first date, to the Wellington Zoo, where Lionel gets his first kiss. This is also where we first see the hideous rat monkey of skull island. A creature so vile it will eat anything, including monkeys from an adjacent cage if they get too close. The zookeeper pops up to tell Paquita and Lionel gruesome stories.
What Paquita and Lionel didn't know is that Mum is sneaking around spying on them. She gets to close to the rat monkey cage and is bitten by the creature. In anger she crushes the thing's head with her foot, then weeps for Lionel to take her home.
And do you know what happens when you get bitten by a rat monkey? You turn into a Zombie!
Yes! DEAD-ALIVE is a zombie movie and now that we're in that territory, all hell breaks loose!
Paquita's love and pursuit of Lionel, who she firmly believes is her chosen one ordained by the tarot and destiny itself, will brave anything for her one true. Lionel doesn't understand Paquita's romantic entanglement with him and Paquita doesn't understand why he resists. He's clearly smitten with her, so what's the problem?
Ever since his father's death, Lionel has been raised to do one thing, tend to his manipulative Mum's every wish and need. Mum gets much worse from her bite and Lionel tends to her wound in disgusting detail. Mum won't hear of going to the hospital or getting the nurse. After all, tomorrow the Ladies' League of Wellington will be calling! The LWL!
The Ladies' Wellington League calls upon Mum for an inspection. Mum simply MUST belong to the haughty LWL!
The gore and disgust are over the top, the love story and emotion between the aching Paquita and the confused loyalties of Lionel are real and actually touching. And the outrageous bizzarity of it all is jaw dropping!
As Mum spreads her infection around, slowly succumbing to the zombie disease, Paquita's grandma is seeing evil afoot in the tarot. Grandma is invoking whatever magic she can to run interference, while Paquita tries to warn Lionel of the dark forces that mark his life. But nobody is prepared for the zombie apocalypse!
Paquita: "Your mother ate my dog!"
Lionel: "Not all of it."
Mum well and truly dies from her infection, which means the zombie transformation is complete and she comes back as one of the undead. What's a loving son to do? After procuring tranquilizers (I won't even tell you how that great scene plays out) to knock out Mum and her nurse, McTavish (Brenda Kendall: NIGHTMARE MAN ), Lionel has a funeral anyway, but of course the dead won't stay buried.
Let it be known that these zombies will not be zombies like you've seen before.
They attack humans, they attack animals, they attack each other. They not only eat and defecate, they also procreate! The ever loyal Lionel does his best to care for Mum: Then Mum's victims.
Mum's brother, creepy Uncle Les (Ian Watkin: BAD BLOOD, DEATH WARMED OVER, MY GRANDPA IS A VAMPIRE) begins haunting the house and his weak nephew, looking for money. Lionel's father left Sis and her son a fortune and Uncle Les wants it.
And even as a zombie, Mum still wants to keep Lionel away from other women.
Great performances by the Kung Fu Father McGruder (Stuart Devenie: MEET THE FEEBLES, THE FRIGHTENERS, THE TATTOOIST)
Through the years since it's release, much has been made of the excessive gore and fake blood. But there's not enough fake blood and gore to dull the shine of Prosthetics Artists Bob McCarron (MAD MAX: THE ROAD WARRIOR, ESCAPE 2000, RAZORBACK, MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, HOWLING III, BODY MELT, THE MATRIX, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED) and Marjorie Hamlin (MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, THE TOMMYKNOCKERS [TV], HEAVENLY CREATURES, THE UGLY, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS, BOOGEYMAN , UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS) Creature and Gore Effects Artist, Richard Taylor (MEET THE FEEBLES, THE TOMMYKNOCKERS [TV], HEAVENLY CREATURES, THE LORD OF THE RINGS [all], KING KONG, BLACK SHEEP, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, DISTRICT 9, THE LOVELY BONES) and the twisted old timey town charm and interiors of Production Designer Kevin Leonard-Jones...
You know what? Screw this! DEAD ALIVE is a great comedy, great Horror movie, and so loaded full of surprises I'm not about to tell you any more.
If you're a Horror fan who has never seen Peter Jackson's DEAD ALIVE, you owe it to yourself. DEAD ALIVE is one of my favorite movies of all time!
5 SHRIEK GIRLS!
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