It's difficult to mention Peter Jackson without immediately thinking that he was the brains behind what is arguably the greatest motion picture trilogy of all time, but film geeks like myself are well aware he had a career before hand. While some of his earlier work is disturbing (Meet the Feebles) and some is brilliant (Heavenly Creatures) he did, and still does, have a fascination with horror and crafted the hilarious zombie movie Dead Alive.
People who know me understand I'm not big in the horror genre nor do I care much for zombies. I always found the slow moving brainless creatures stupid and not in the least bit scary. The greatest of horror has villains with a psychological bent, such as Psycho and The Exorcist. Zombies, by there very nature, cannot posses the personality of a Dracula or a Hyde and leave a strong disconnect with the audience.
Peter Jackson, as well as the makers of Zombieland, knew this and created the low budget Dead Alive. It's a simple story of a nugget of a man with an overbearing mother who earns his living mowing lawns. As a result of a virus carrying monkey he finds his small village plagued with the undead. At first he tries to befriend a few as he had sympathy for them, but finally survival instinct kicks in and it's up to him alone to eradicate the population of his town.
What seems like a fright fest from the cover art is misleading. It's really a comedy on the whole genre of walking dead pictures. Take for instance a scene in a cemetery near a large church. An old priest sees a bunch of zombies try and eat those still living and decides to go all Jackie Chan on their asses. Another scene has the mousy protagonist walking a zombie baby through a park. The kid starts to get hungry and tries to eat him and a fight ensues. The onlookers take shock in seeing the man kick the crap out of what seems like an infant, but is really a flesh eater.
Folks, this is great cinema.
"Originally released as Braindead, this gory, maccabre satire of 1950s New Zealand society is yet another proof that Peter Jackson is one of the sharpest, most skillful directors working in the genre; a good companion piece to Meet the Feebles." - Emanuel Levy