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Braindead (1992, also known as Dead Alive) is Peter Jackson's third feature film, a gory comedy in the vein of Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles. It is about a young man named Lionel whose life takes a turn to the worse when his overbearing mother is bitten by a rat-monkey of Sumatra, infecting her with a strange disease that rapidly turns her in a hungry zombie that starts infecting every unlucky fellow that she comes across. If having a zombie mom wasn't enough of a problem, Lionel also has to deal with his opportunistic uncle Les and hide his deadly secret from his girlfriend Paquita.

It is a Squicktastic gore fest. Intentionally hilarious in all its splattery glory. That's probably all you need to know.


Braindead provides examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Uncle Les, the thugs that assault Lionel in the cemetery... and then Lionel's mom as we learn that she murdered Lionel's father and his mistress.
  • Badass: Lionel may be a wuss and a mama's boy, but still manages to destroy dozens of zombies and survive almost unharmed.
    • He may be a Jerkass, but let's face it, Uncle Les proves to be this when he carves up dozens of zombies singlehandedly with only a pair of knives.
  • Badass Preacher: Father McGruder. Subverted in that his badass causes his downfall.
    • He's owned by his own badass really. He kicks a zombie's head off. The zombie head lands right on his shoulder. He gets bitten.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Compared to every other film. This one holds the record for goriest film ever.
  • Blood Knight: Uncle Les becomes one when he gets his hands on a pair of cleavers
  • Bloody Hilarious
  • Chainsaw Good: Lawnmower better.
  • Chased by Angry Natives: the explorers running away from Skull Island with the captured Rat Monkey are chased by angry tribesmen with spears.
    • Perfectly justified as said natives know exactly what the Rat Monkey's bite does: "Shangaia!"
  • Church Militant: "I kick arse for the Lord!"
  • Creator Cameo: Jackson appears as the undertaker's bumbling assistant.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: more like Undead Baby Comedy.
  • Delinquents: Lionel meets a group of these while he goes to the cemetery to certify that his zombie mom won't raise from the grave. It doesn't end well for all of them.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A horrible, infectious disease spread by a nonhuman primate, eh?
  • Enfant Terrible/Undead Child: Baby Selwyn. Who was conceived after its parents' zombification and was born apparently about a day later.
  • Evil Matriarch: Lionel's mother. She bullies him relentlessly and sabotages his social life. After her zombification, she gets worse.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies
  • Fat Bastard: Uncle Les.
  • Final Boss: Lionel's Mother
  • Freud Was Right: In the end Lionel's mom, turned into a huge monster, captures his son and puts him into her huge belly; he later rips her apart from the inside and emerges in a pool of blood, in an almost-fetal position.
  • Gag Dub: the Italian dub adds all kinds of silly puns by having the zombies "talk" and not only make meaningless grunts and noises.
  • Genre Savvy: Uncle Les knows how to defend his own against the zombies because he's "read the comics".
  • Gorn: Raised on a pinnacle and worshiped. Combined with Bloody Hilarious.
  • Grave Marking Scene
  • Groin Attack: Nearly every character in the movie hits Uncle Les in the groin at some point, once using a severed arm as a club. The lout urinating on a zombie's grave comes off even worse.
  • Helping Hands: when you chop up a zombie, the severed parts still move and attack you, including a complete set of bowels.
    • Can't reach the starter for the lawnmower? Just grab a severed arm!
  • High-Pressure Blood: Braindead is the bloodiest movie of all time, with blood was being pumped at five gallons per second during the lawnmower climax. 'Nuff said.
  • Homage: The explorer foolishly brings a deadly primate back from Skull Island.
    • Shout-Out: Jackson later gives a Shout-Out to Braindead in his "King Kong" remake: one of the crates coming back from Skull Island on the expedition ship is labeled "Sumatran Rat Monkey". And below that, the words "BEWARE THE BITE".
      • And the Paths of the Dead in Jackson's Lord of the Rings was the same location as this film's opening scene.
  • Improvised Weapon: A lawnmower becomes a powerful weapon against zombies.
    • Jackson has jokingly claimed that the lawnmower is the preferred murder instrument in New Zealand.
  • Ironic Echo: At the beginning of the film, Lionel's mother complains that his son doesn't even know how to use the lawnmower properly. As it turns out at the end, he most certainly does.
  • It Got Worse: There's a reason stimulants and poisons come labeled.
  • Jerkass: Lionel's uncle, Les.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: So much could have been solved if Lionel had just killed his mother after she fully turned into a zombie. Or killed the zombies that she created rather than keep them all sedated. Or, when he finally did decide to kill them, to use some more traditional methods (like chopping them up or cremating them), instead of using what he and Paquita thought was poison (which was actually an animal stimulant). But alas, otherwise, there'd be no plot, and nothing to laugh at.
  • Losing Your Head: A nurse who's taking care of Lionel's mother gets her head ripped off and it's only still attached by a flap of skin.
  • Love At First Sight: Sort of. Paquita is initially not impressed by Lionel and finds both his presence and clumsy antics annoying... until he accidentally forms a star symbol, which she was previously told would be how to recognize her true love. It's then she gets interested.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The last third of the film is a total carnage, and the zombies' severed parts even have a "life" of their own!
  • Momma's Boy: Lionel. Even after she is turned into a zombie, he doesn't kill her and instead confines her in the basement. He remains devoted to her mother until it's revealed that she drowned his father and his mistress in the bathtub.
  • My Beloved Smother: Vera, Lionel's mother. Full stop.
  • One-Winged Angel: Lionel's mom after she received the animal stimulant.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "The party's over!"
    • Also, "I kick arse for the Lord!"
  • Refuge in Audacity: Almost everything. However, zombie nurse making love with zombie priest and then having a zombie baby is wrong on so many levels.
  • Rule of Funny: Peter Jackson finished this film greatly under-budget and ahead of time. He used the extra resources to go back and extend the scene where Lionel takes Selwyn to the park, for the sake of this trope.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Lionel being dragged back to his mother's womb and fighting his way out (The Other Wiki's plot summary even describes this as "an over-the-top Freudian 'rebirth'").
  • Scare Chord: The music makes a noticeable jump when Lionel accidentally injects the zombies with stimulant.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Paquita's first boyfriend, Roger. Her relationship with Lionel starts like this as well, but then they both develop genuine interest for each other.
  • Shout-Out: In addition to the reference to Skull Island, there's a Sherlock Holmes story that mentions "the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror
  • Stop Motion: the Sumatran Rat Monkey.
    • Somehow, that makes it even scarier, in the scene where it bites Lionel's mother.
  • Tear Off Your Face: One of the victims of the zombie outbreak has his face torn completely off.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The veterinarian Lionel buys the tranquilizer from is one of those, with a poorly-concealed swastika under his lab coat.
  • Took a Level In Badass: After being meek and submissive for most of the film, both Lionel and Paquita gain several levels in the final thirty minutes.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Paquita tries to dispose of the zombie baby with a blender; she almost hesitates and then the baby vomits bright-green puke on her face.
  • You Killed My Father: Near the end of the film, Lionel finds out that his mother drowned both his father and a woman that he had an affair with in the bathtub.
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