Friday, 26 April 2013

Review - Braindead (1992 - Dir. Peter Jackson)



It was a rainy day in Hull, 1992. (I know that it was a rainy day because it always rains in Hull.) I walked past an old disused boarded up shop. And there pasted to the decaying wood was a poster. The tagline read (something along the lines of): A romantic comedy about a boy, a girl and their power tools. I'd already seen Bad Taste, Jackson's first film, so I was completely sold on this idea. 



Later on, I saw shots from the film and was salivating at the prospect. I couldn't really believe that this would enter UK cinemas in an uncut form. Surely not.



But it arrived. And it was uncut. So I went to see it three times at the local cinema. Again, I was convinced that it would never make it to video (at the time) in all its uncut glory.



But amazingly it did. The censors got the joke, which has baffled me for a long time. Since then, censorship laws have calmed down greatly, even Silent Hill got a 15 certificate despite some seriously nasty razor wire action.



Anyway, on to the film. There is enough evidence in Braindead to show that Peter Jackson would go on to bigger and better (?) things. The storytelling still impresses and it cracks along at a fair old pace. In a similar fashion to Evil Dead 2, there is not a moment of boredom in the whole film. (The same can't be said of some of his later films. I like The Lord of the Rings trilogy but they're not the paciest of films.)



Lionel (Timothy Balme) lives with his domineering mum, Vera (Elizabeth Moody) who strongly dislikes his "experienced" girlfriend Paquita (Diana Peñalver). Enter a small diseased vicious-looking monkey whose bite leads to death, followed by undeath and a fun time is pretty much guaranteed.



Like Evil Dead 2, Braindead is still funny now. There are a few duff notes, such as the zombie sex which all feels a bit obvious, but there are many chuckles to be had. The highlight has got to be Lionel taking a zombie baby for a walk in the local park. It all descends into Bottom type mayhem. Great stuff. Adding to the humour are the tonnes of quotable lines:
Paquita - "Your mother ate my dog!"
Lionel - "Not all of it."
This is just one of many.



The reason why Braindead still holds a special place in my heart is the sheer quantity of blood and gore. One scene involves our hero, zombies and a petrol-driven lawnmower. It lasts for ages and is possibly the biggest and messiest bloodbath committed to film. If anyone knows of a bigger one let me know. I'd love to see it.



The effects are pretty nifty, even now. There are some many great effects it seems unfair to single any out. But life's not fair, so here goes: A ribcage is ripped out of a poor fellow's chest, a woman gets a lit lightbulb slammed into her head, a zombie walks around on its hands despite having no legs, and a headless corpse has its head replaced by something altogether more amusing.



Technical issues let the film down slightly. The DVD version I saw was in the 4:3 ratio, which seems bizarre. There is also a reliance on close ups of characters' faces shot with a wide angle lens. It all makes it look a bit cheap, in a bad way. 



Despite not being quite as good as my rose-coloured spectacles led me to believe, it is still a good film. Peter Jackson talked of going back and shooting another low-budget splatter film a while ago. The Hobbit or splatter filled goodness? I know which I'd plump for...
7/10
evlkeith



If you like this you could also try:
The Return of the Living Dead, Bad Taste.



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