…vet circus

Braindead (1992) Dir. Peter Jackson

What happens to a white guy who is trying to steal a monkey from a New Zealand wilderness? He gets bitten on both hands; the natives cut them off; and the monkey gets transferred to a big city anyway. That’s just the beginning of the creepy Peter Jackson adventure.

Insanity rules the screen since the first shot. When a young couple goes on a date to the zoo, they’re followed by a jealous psycho mother (Elizabeth Moody) of the boy Lionel (Timothy Balme). The mother gets bitten by the wilderness monkey (revealed as a crossover between a monkey and a rat). Of course, we already know what’s gonna transpire to the mummy. The mother disapproves of the (how she puts it?) “experienced” girl Paquita (Diana Peñalver) her son is dating. On top of that, she’ll soon turn into a creature scarier than any unfriendly mother-in-law: a zombie! Poor boy, trapped between two women. Would it be a take on mother-in-law – daughter-in-law relations instead of a mere horror? After all, the mother gorges herself on the girl’s dog.

Kitsch rules the screen. The angles are distorted, the close-ups inimical. The sense of danger and ridicule mix. The feelings are stripped bare to their basics. The special effects look so unconvincing they’re actually uncanny. What do you do when a piece of skin peels off your cheek? The simplest solutions are always the best: you glue it back on!

Disgust rules the screen. Parts of bodies are being cut off, ripped off, swallowed, eyes gouged out and squeezed back in. Blood dribbles everywhere. Anyone getting a taste of that (literally) turns into a flesh-eating zombie. Apart from that, there’s a mad scientist – classic. He speaks with a Germanish accent, is ugly as butt, and possesses all kinds of potions, including a very strong tranquilizer. Lionel uses it against the mother in a scene that proves every average guy-next-door may turn into a zombie-fighting Rambo.

Finally, captions rule the screen. “I kick ass for the Lord, “ becomes the characteristic trait of the movie. But Jackson doesn’t stop there. We go from “you’re mother ate my dog” to “That’s my mother you’re pissing on.”

The question remains why a guy is trying to hide his mother, who changed into a walking dead. After all, she no longer resembles a human being. Plus, she’s trying to eat him alive. Could it be a young man’s anxieties presented in a grotesque and horroresque way? The fear of leaving his mummy and committing to another woman? Perhaps, it’s a cautionary tale against carnal pleasures, alcohol and sex, that is? Jackson includes a proof that the alien is not always evil. Quite the contrary, Paquita, the immigrant, has the clear insight and understanding of the situation. If you’re up for lotsa gore, you’re gonna love it.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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