Review – Braindead

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 25, 2017 (Last updated: January 10, 2023)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer(s): Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Stephen Sinclair

Rating: R

Release Date: August 13, 1992 (1993 worldwide)

Full Cast & Crew Info


This review is part of our 31 Days of Horror series. You can check out the other posts by clicking these words.


“Legolas, what do your elf eyes see?”

“The Uruks turn Northeast! They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard!”

That baby just… landed in a f*****g blender.”

Wait a minute – what?

One of these quotes is not like the others. The last one, specifically, is a quote taken directly from myself. Braindead – also known as Dead Alive – is what was going through Peter Jackson’s fantastically-f****d brain back in 1992, years before he took on the mantle of creating potentially the best film trilogy to date – The Lord of the Rings, for anyone who was unsure.

Aptly titled Braindead, due to the state in which it leaves viewers once it’s finished, this film centres itself around a man, Lionel, living with his mother, Vera. Lionel is always getting into trouble for his relations with a shopkeeper’s daughter, Paquita – and, fortunately, this is as far as this film goes in maintaining its rationality. A rabid rat-monkey hybrid bites Vera, from which point on she unleashes her infected state on the rest of the small New Zealand town in which she and her son reside, turning everyone into zombies. Nice.

Okay, so we’ve established this film doesn’t have a central theme concerning significant philological or folkloric input.

You’re gosh darn right, buddy – and it only gets better from here. For a film so outrageously and unbelievably gory, it’s only fair I swear more than usual to somewhat mirror it – things get f****d up. A lot of s**t unravels – probably literally, at some point or another – when an infected Vera eats her own detached ear, before being killed by a tram. A funeral is held and Lionel is attacked by a gang of vigilante yobs when he’s assumed to be a necrophiliac during administering his brain-dead zombie mother with a tranquilliser to ensure she doesn’t kill anyone in her reanimated state – just as he did during her funeral. More like fun-eral, am I right?

Right… so. What?

Yeah. And then things naturally and completely understandably progress when the local priest and a nurse have sex which gives way to the birth of a zombie baby – or zomby, as I like to call them – and this is where things truly excel. The plot moves forward as a house party hosted by Lionel’s blackmailing uncle ensues, during which Lionel’s now-ex, Paquita (were they technically together to begin with? Does anybody even care?) comes over to try and make amends with him. Paquita discovers a bunch of zombies Lionel has hidden in his basement to try and contain the outbreak, and convinces Lionel to administer a poison to kill them all – and, of course, the poison turns out to be an animal stimulant.

The now super-enhanced zombies turn up to the party and f**k everyone up to smithereens; and the now zombie-guests – or zuests, as I like to call them – join in on the fuckery and try eating the remaining survivors as Lionel brings a lawnmower into the equation and mows the f*****g zombies to death. Paquita handles zombie-uncle, who then gets attacked by a super-f****d-up Vera, who then chases Lionel and Paquita to the rooftop. Standing atop a blazing house due to a sudden burst gas pipe, Lionel admits that he saw Vera drown his father as a child. Dead and loving it, Vera ingests Lionel and tries to kill Paquita. Lionel cuts his mum the f**k open from the inside-out and she falls into the fire. The fire brigade turn up and Lionel and Paquita kiss. The perfect ending to a beautiful story of tragedy and heartbreak.

Oh yeah – I forgot to mention that cute lil’ zomby is running around throughout the film and, at one point, falls into a blender amidst getting the s**t kicked out of him. Though, in the survivors’ defences, he is a super-enhanced zombie-baby who’s trying to kill them all.

So, let me get this straight – this is the same Peter Jackson who directed the legendarily-acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy? And not an escaped serial killer with the same name?

Correct. I’m just as shocked and impressed as the next person. And having watched this after having already seen The Lord of the Rings films – which significantly helped in this film gaining interest after its release despite an already-prominent cult following – this salient fact somehow only made this a more enjoyable watch.

MORE enjoyable? You ENJOYED this?

I like a good zombie film. I love a good gory film. Combine the two and turn the dial all the way up to WHAT THE F**K and you’ve got you a done deal. This film is, without a doubt, the goriest film I’ve seen – but it’s done in the most outlandish and comical fashion. The slapstick genre, if done correctly, is something I’ve always appreciated; make it outrageously violent and it’s a winning combination. The level of ridiculousness and blood poured into this flick simply makes for a thoroughly enjoyable film from start to finish.

So you’d recommend this blasphemy?

F**k yeah I would. Do you like blood and gore in excess amounts? Do you like said excess amount to be presented excessively? Do you like silly comedy? Do you like said silly comedy to be delivered excessively? Excess plus excess equals success. If you like blood, gore, violence and comedy, then this is something that is an absolute must. Something to firmly hold a place in one’s mind for years to come. How d’ya like THEM hobbits?


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