People that know me best know that my love of zombies wasn't something I was born with. They have no idea what might have happened...all they know is that somewhere between high school and my becoming a dad I was struck by lightning, or a rock, or SOMEthing that clicked the 'like' button in my brain in regards to the undead.
So what was it?
For a long time, I didn't know the answer myself. I tried to trace it back only to have my memory fritz out along the way to the point that I'd forget what I was trying to remember (those same people that know me are quite used to this).
Then one day it came to me...a sudden flash of a memory of my first zombie film.
Can you guess what it was? NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD? Nope. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD? Wrong again. THE MICK JAGGER STORY? Sorry. Give up?
It was a little known flick from New Zealand in 1993 called DEAD ALIVE (that's the U.S. title...in NZ it's "Braindead")
I remember the day I rented it. In those days I was always patrolling the horror section, looking for titles I had never heard of in hopes of finding something special...much like the miner who faithfully pans for gold every day....rarely finding anything of value, but always hoping.
It's cover jumped out at me, so I picked it up and studied the images and plot synopsis. I ALMOST put it back to keep looking....until I saw the blurb of text at the top of the box..."The goriest fright film of all time"......it was as if it was daring me to rent it. So, I did. And, like that miner panning for gold, I cried out "Eureka!"
It was wonderful, and horrible.....surprising and horrific....laughable and fantastic. Over the top acting, and gore GALORE. There were buckets and buckets and BUCKETS of blood and body parts as zombies were mowed down (literally) by the protagonist, Lionel...sliced and diced by his creepy Uncle Les...and puréed by Lionel's love interest Paquita.
I revisited this movie thru the magic of Netflix for wii a few nights ago, and introduced my sons to what is now my #1 guilty pleasure (they're old enough, I promise). Together we laughed and cringed in disgust at the Sumatran Rat Monkey (which looked like a muppet with rabies), the zombie with the lawn gnome for a head, the pudding scene (you'll never want to eat it again after witnessing this), the hilarious kung-fu priest ("it's time for divine intervention"), and all the rest of the delightfully disgusting elements that came together to create this wonderful work of cinema that started me down the path of the undead.
So, if you ever have an opportunity (and a strong stomach) I implore you......PLEASE give DEAD ALIVE a chance. I'm so glad I did.
(Just don't watch it during dinner.)
Aim high. Run fast.