Thursday, October 04, 2012
Making Monsters #4: Dead Alive
When the zombies break loose at a house party in the last half hour, the film becomes like the most inventive and lovingly crafted realization of an extremely gifted ten-year-old's most horrifying notebook sketches, culminating in the most hilariously literal, disgusting Freudian metaphor ever committed to celluloid. But before that, we're treated with the movie's showstopper, as Lionel, equipped with an upturned lawnmower, hacks a few dozen zombies to smithereens. It's a pretty straightforward effect - a lot of writhing extras, plenty of prop limbs and organs and fake blood pumped through the lawnmower at a rate of five gallons per second. It's the sheer showmanship that makes the scene so satisfying - it's Jackson taking the zombie movie as far as it can go, a bloodbath that, like a splatter version of Sideshow Bob stepping on rake after rake, takes a gross-out joke past the point of its novelty, until it's completely repetitive and numbing, and then past that until the sheer scale of the bloodbath achieves a sublime, demented kind of genius. That Jackson just stretched one 300-page children's book into three movies suggests, sadly, that he doesn't have another Dead Alive in him; hopefully, as with some of the best moments in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, his new trio will contain flashes of the gifted young filmmaker who knew how to craft the perfect sick joke.