Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dead Alive (1992)

A giant rat rapes a monkey and all hell breaks loose in Peter Jackson's outrageously gory Zombie-Comedy, "Dead Alive." It's the tale of Lionel, a mama's boy living at home in the 50's, who meets a local grocery store clerk named Paquita. She believes (after a tarot card reading) that Lionel and her are destined to be together, and maybe she's right, but the only thing standing in their way is...MOTHER.

Lionel's controlling Mother is so protective and so threatened by Paquita that she secretly follows the two of them on their date to the zoo, where she comes face to face with an even more threatening creature, a rare and violent animal known as a Sumatran rat-monkey. The creature bites Mother on her arm and is then distastefully stomped to death by her. Lionel, shocked that his Mother is there and even more shocked by what happened to her, begrudgingly abandons Paquita at the zoo to care for his Mother.

Her health quickly deteriorates and she develops a taste for flesh, both of the human and canine variety, and it isn't long before she's in full-blown-zombie-mode. Even though Mother is obviously a threat to not only Lionel, but to everyone who comes near her, Lionel can't bring himself to put her down for good. His mama's-boy instinct is in full throttle, and he just doesn't know what to do. He tries locking her up and he even tries burying her, but nothing works.

Meanwhile, Mother continues to find new victims to infect with her Sumatran-rat-monkey-zombie-juice, and Lionel does his best to hide his newly acquired zombies-friends in his basement. As all of this unfolds, his relationship with Paquita suffers due to Lionel's secrets in the basement. Meanwhile, Lionel's exploitive uncle starts hanging around, in hopes of pressuring Lionel for a share of his Mother's estate.

Eventually all of this climaxes in a 30-plus minute wall-to-wall gore-a-thon that still ranks this one as quite possibly the goriest movie ever made.

This was not my first time seeing "Dead Alive," but again, it was my first time seeing it in a theater. It screened as the 5th of a 6 film series at the Regal Arbor 8, entitled "Retro Replay." Since the series started, they've shown a pretty odd selection of films; "Dr. No," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Joe Versus the Volcano," & "So I Married An Axe Murder." Next week they are showing "Better Off Dead." The strange thing is that they are really trying to make it a fun and somewhat interactive experience, in this case providing hand made "Dead Alive Barf Bags" and asking trivia questions.

Obviously, as a regular Weird Wednesday & Terror Thursday attendee, these gestures echoed the kinds of things the Alamo does. Couple that with the fact that the theater I work at, a Cinemark theater, this week received a "Sing-a-long" copy of "Mama Mia," and it would seem that at least around here, the revolutionary programing of Alamo Drafthouse is starting to effect the way generic multiplexes are operating.

So far though, it would be appear that they still have a long way to go. The gentlemen from the Arbor we spoke to afterwards said that the screening we were at was the closest they had come to breaking even with the series. On top of that, the trivia question portion suffered from some embarrassing bumbling on his part, but maybe "Better Off Dead" will go better. As far as the "Mama Mia Sing-a-long" goes, the 9:00 show last night only had one person in it. Can you imagine that one person sitting in the theater singing along? Where's Henri when you need him?

"Dead Alive" screened on 8/27/08 at 7:00 at the Arbor.

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