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Dead Alive poster

Dead Alive

Director Peter Jackson's second feature cheerfully trumps the gross-out quotient of his splatterfest debut, the appropriately named Bad Taste. The tone is cartoonishly comic, and the premise is simple: The village dweeb (Timothy Balme) is trying to maintain a budding romance with the sweet Paquita (Diana Penalver) while concealing the fact that his overbearing mum (Elizabeth Moody, in an amazing good-sport performance) is a flesh-eating zombie. (She owes her condition to a bite from a "Sumatran Rat Monkey" at the local zoo.) Complicating matters even further is Les, a greedy uncle (Ian Watkin), who suspects that his sister has died and is eager to occupy her elegantly furnished Victorian mansion. The climax is a housewarming party Les throws to celebrate his "inheritance;" what he really gets is his comeuppance, thanks to his sister and her similarly afflicted zombie pals, who burst out of their basement prison to turn the guests into appetizers. Our hero finally cuts a wide swath through the zombie party crashers with the help of a rotary blade lawn mower, leaving the house awash in blood and body parts in order to save his romance.