Braindead (1992)

“Braindead” (1992)

IMDb

reflexive ketchup

What drives the making of b series is, prior to anything else, sheer passion. Passion in the making of it, passion in the process, of inventing simple costless ways to represent crazy ideas. I think that’s where the gore infatuation comes from, how to represent props that you obviously won’t get for real. In the beginning it might be really born from the frustration of wanting to make a movie without having the budget to pull it out. Later on, the cheap look to those movies created a fan base, and a trend. So, the same way today some guys (myself included) shoot super8 because they want the grain, the look, and the process now useless in the video age, so did (and still do!) many filmmakers seek to do b series style, because they loved the old ones, wanted passionately to do a film, and didn’t have enough money to do one.

I saw this Braindead, back to back with the brilliant Re-animator. Together, these two films, plus the festival mood in the theater where i saw them gave me one of the funniest nights in cinema ever. One where watching a film really became as much a collective thing as it is to make the movie itself. Colective laughs, not planned, spontaneous, relaxing in face of the jokes. It was all really great, memorable. So, i supposed the spirit of the makers of the films was fully transposed to the audience in that room, me included. it means both films work.

Now, it’s interesting to think about a few things: this film is a self-aware b series, meaning that who did it knew they were deliberately making a cheap looking, b themed movie. This was in 1992, so they were making it to audiences by than unaccustomed to the cheapness that was tolerable when, say, Corman, was making his films, or even more when Ed Wood was. So, from the very beginning, the filmmakers are winking to the style they emulate, they plan jokes based on the effect they know they will create on audiences. It’s in that bedrock that all the (imense) fun lies. This is not “oh we don’t have the money to do all those big effects, let’s try our best with whatever means we get”. Instead it is a “yeah, let’s make something that looks phony, fake, and ketchup, people will laugh with us”. So in a way, Braindead, Re-animator, or the Evil Dead series, do to the b-series zombie film what Leone did to the American western, or Besson did to the action films. They place them in that sweet world of irony and self-awareness. Nice. the rest, you’ll have to see, a synopsis of a film like this would sound plain ridiculous, so would the description of nearly every scene.

Still, there are two bits: one is the very first scene. What a great set they found. I’ve never been to New Zealand so i don’t know how hard it was to find it, hey maybe it’s on every touristic guide. But i really enjoyed how Peter Jackson shot that sequence, in the middle of those huge high rocks.

The faces. How he shoots the few true shots of intimacy between the main characters. It feels like he used wide angles close to the faces, anyway he achieved some great moments, of pure cinematic intimacy, and the camera hand held movements allow for it. Surprisingly good in the middle of this blood flick.

the rat monkey stop motion is great. So is the ninja priest! So were the facial acting of Timothy Balme.

what did not work was the control of the larger arc of the film. Some sequences are overly extended, and in a zombie film, to many chopped legs and arms become dull at a certain point.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb

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