Braindead (1992)

Directed by
A splatter masterpiece
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-05-28

A young couple's budding romance is disrupted when a Sumatran Rat Monkey bites the man's mother, and she begins exhibiting behaviours suggesting of the undead.

Peter Jackson's second live action film takes the black humour and obscene gore of his debut Bad Taste and turns it up to 11... 12... about 150. The film has the benefits that a budget and a production crew bring and Jackson's energy and enthusiasm doesn't get mired down by it, but rather liberated. It feels like exactly the same sort of passion project, the product of a singular vision, but now Jackson really gets to go to town with it.

The special effects are a triumph, featuring some great makeup and models, and probably repeated trips to the back door of an abattoir. The film features a level of blood and carnage that would make Takashi Miike wince, and creative practical effects that must have inspired a young Yoshihiro Nishimura's imagination.

The free-spirited delirium is helped by a cast that seems to be completely on board with Jackson's project, happy to be sprayed with whatever viscera and gore the shot requires to create an over-the-top, gross-out spectacle. The deadpan delivery of the film's frequently absurd dialog hits exactly the right notes, playful and treating the audience as part of the team.

The zombie genre has often been a place for budding film makers to show what they can do, for better or for worse. The confidence that Peter Jackson brings to the production makes it clear that this is a man that understands the medium and can be trusted to make effective use of the budget he's given. It took another couple of films for him to demonstrate that he was also capable of maturity, which is arguably a pity, but it's easy to see he was destined for greatness one way or another here.