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Dead Alive (1992)

Braindead (original title)
1:49 | Trailer

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A young man's mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors.



(story), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1,807 ( 44)
13 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Diana Peñalver ...
Elizabeth Moody ...
Mum (Vera Cosgrove)
Ian Watkin ...
Brenda Kendall ...
Stuart Devenie ...
Stephen Papps ...
Zombie McGruder
Murray Keane ...
Glenis Levestam ...
Lewis Rowe ...
Elizabeth Mulfaxe ...
Davina Whitehouse ...
Silvio Famularo ...


Lionel, a Mama's boy has the unwanted honor of having to look after his overbearingly evil mother. He ends up falling in love with a local woman who believes that they're destined together. In a moment of intentional sabotage of one of their dates, his mother is bitten by a mysterious creature that ends up zombifying her. It's only a matter of time before she rises from the dead a powerful, bloodthirsty zombie. It's only a matter of time before she starts infecting residents of the town and Lionel has to stop her...and them. Written by Mystic80

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There's something nasty in Lionel's cellar - His family! See more »


Comedy | Fantasy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for an abundance of outrageous gore | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

12 February 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead Alive  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)


$242,623 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (R-rated) | (unrated) | (FSK 16) | (1992) (1993) (cut) | (heavily cut) | (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Peter Jackson, is a well-known aficionado of the original 1933 version of King Kong (1933). In the beginning of Braindead, the New Zealand Zoo official is stealing the rat monkey from Skull Island. That's Jackson's nod to Skull Island's more famous resident, King Kong. Jackson would 'return' to Skull Island for his 2005 remake of King Kong (2005). See more »


When Lionel's mum gets bitten at the zoo, the color of her sleeve material changes from black/dark blue to light blue. See more »


Father McGruder: Lionel, despite being deprived of his father at an early age, was blessed with an abundance of motherlove.
[Mum's hand smashes through her coffin lid and tries to strangle Lionel]
See more »


Referenced in 28 Hours Later: The Zombie Movie (2010) See more »


The Stars and Moon
Composed by Peter Dasent and Jane Lindsay
Performed by Kate Swadling
Published by Mana Music/Central
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Perhaps the best horror comedy of all time
3 March 2007 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Peter Jackson's gore-fest "Dead Alive" - AKA Braindead- is a very funny, very bloody film. The story is pretty simple, but includes some ingenious plot elements - such as a budding romance between two very likable characters (Balme and Penalver), a psychologically distressing relationship between Balme and his mother and well scripted dialog.

Balme plays Lionel - a troubled, more or less housebound young man who has been forced to spend most of his time taking care of a domineering and psychologically damaging elderly mother. Penalver plays Paquita - his romantic destiny. Paquita is a charming young woman for whom English is (perhaps) a second language. Soon after they meet, Paquita notices some odd quirks in Lionel's behavior, and slowly begins to realize that there is something besides the usual male fear of commitment. Perhaps Lionel's cannibalistic zombie mother is to blame? Soon enough Balme is babysitting a whole family of living dead who he has to constantly inject with animal tranquilizers, and trying to fend off a despicable uncle who is trying to muscle in on his inheritance. Then the fun really starts. It's the Dead Alive Series with extra gore, infused with brilliant slapstick and just a pinch of Monty Python.

Balme is amazing! - an excellent physical actor with great slapstick pacing and manic anxiety. And Penalver is delightfully pretty and sincere yet gives a nice campy performance. Dead Alive is one of the films in which Jackson began to blend detailed ecstatic and fantastic elements into his plots and cinematography - later culminating in the disturbing Heavenly Creatures and the spectacular LOTR trilogy. In Dead Alive, he finds his formula and makes it work without a tremendous budget. The film is well shot and grotesque, but remarkably amusing.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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