579 user 170 critic

Dead Alive (1992)

Braindead (original title)
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.


Peter Jackson


Stephen Sinclair (story), Stephen Sinclair (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
3,734 ( 13)
14 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Timothy Balme ... Lionel Cosgrove
Diana Peñalver ... Paquita Maria Sanchez
Elizabeth Moody ... Mum (Vera Cosgrove)
Ian Watkin Ian Watkin ... Uncle Les
Brenda Kendall Brenda Kendall ... Nurse McTavish
Stuart Devenie ... Father McGruder
Jed Brophy ... Void
Stephen Papps Stephen Papps ... Zombie McGruder
Murray Keane Murray Keane ... Scroat
Glenis Levestam Glenis Levestam ... Nora Matheson
Lewis Rowe Lewis Rowe ... Mr. Matheson
Elizabeth Mulfaxe Elizabeth Mulfaxe ... Rita
Harry Sinclair ... Roger
Davina Whitehouse ... Paquita's Grandmother
Silvio Famularo Silvio Famularo ... Paquita's Father
Learn more

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In New Zealand's peaceful town of Wellington, Lionel Cosgrove--an oppressed bachelor who is still living with his despotic mother, Vera--has finally found his soulmate: the kind grocery store clerk, Paquita. However, before long, things will take a turn for the worse in Lionel's already messed-up world, when Skull Island's vicious Sumatran Rat-Monkey bites Vera after a visit to the local zoo. Now that Vera's got the "bite", the virulent infection is rapidly turning her into a puss-squirting flesh-eating living dead, and the volatile situation is bound to get out of hand, as an ever-growing collection of dead bodies and other stimulant-enhanced zombie misfits start to cram Lionel's basement. Poor Lionel--whether you like it or not--you need to man up and clean up the mess; moreover, summon up the courage to confront your decomposing mummy, and the family's ugly secret. Nevertheless, has Lionel what it takes to save the day, and get the girl? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Prepare for complete mental shutdown... See more »


Comedy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

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 Uncle Les first enters the house, he practically gags on the smell, but later in the party scene, no-one notices any unpleasant odors, even though the bodies have yet to be buried. See more »


Lionel Cosgrove: They're not dead exactly, they're just... sort of rotting.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The old German Video from IMV was cut by a few minutes (violence/gore) to get a "Not under 18" rating. Although the tape was over 10 years available and heavily cut, it has been banned now. See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) See more »


29 Steps
Composed by Fane Flaws and Stephen Winderwel
Performed by Tony Backhouse
copyright central
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User Reviews

The twisted world of Sir Peter Jackson
4 October 2012 | by shuklavinashSee all my reviews

'Braindead' as the name suggests, is a zombie film. But wait! This doesn't make it like any other zombie film. In fact this is the powerhouse of a splatter! As a gatekeeper of the cinema hall, I request all the haters of gore go home and welcome all those who love the twisted tale of splatter and walking innards that set history in the world of splatter. People had seen gore before 'Braindead' was released, but what sets this one apart from the other gore films is that 'Braindead' falls into the 'comedy horror' genre. Since it's no disturbing stuff, the lovers of splatter may revel this twisted tale for years together.

The film begins with the scene of Skull Island, where we come across a New Zealand zoo-officer (Bill Ralston) who has dared catch a Sumatran Monkey with the help of local guides and poachers. The spear-wielding tribal inhabitants show unwelcoming attitude towards the intruders and follow them. Fortunately they happen to take the monkey along, but the zoo-officer gets bitten. The poachers lose no time in decapitating and beheading the helpless zoo-officer for his sole good, for they fear that the monkey's bite would transform him into something bizarre! The monkey reaches Wellington and is kept in a zoo.

Cut to Wellington, we meet a young man Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme), who lives with his over-possessive, domineering, and snobbish mother Vera (Elizabeth Moody). Vera loves making Lionel work for hours together and keeps him engaged in several odd jobs. It so happens that Lionel begins his first affair with a dashing Spanish belle Paquita (Diana Peñalver) and the two decide to visit a local zoo. Vera is suspicious about Lionel's objectives and follows them. Unfortunately, Vera gets bitten by the same Sumatran Monkey and Lionel somehow brings her home.

Vera objects to this relationship calling Lionel irresponsible and unapologetic. The next day the bite begins showing its effect and Vera dies. Moments later we see Vera's corpse animating back to life, but this time she has become more like a rotting corpse or more precisely a zombie. Lionel somehow believes that his mother could be cured and does everything to keep her alive. The townspeople believe that Vera has died and gather at her funeral. That night Lionel visits her grave and exhumes Vera's corpse. He is hampered by a pack of hooligans who think he is a body snatcher and beat him mercilessly. Vera's corpse comes out of the grave and infects the hooligans and a priest Father McGruder (Stuart Devenie). In order to hide his mother's tale, Lionel has to make arrangements for all the zombies at the basement of his palatial house, he has inherited from his family. But his uncle Les (Ian Watkin) has his own plans about this inheritance. How Paquita and Lionel try to reunite against all the odds and fight away a pack of several hundred zombies forms the crux of the story.

'Braindead' is a perfect splatter entertainer in all sense. The film captures some of the more bizarre and disgorging images that may leave the viewers in discomfort. I think they spent most of the budget on fake blood because gore and splatter are the ingredients that set the viewers' mood. Also, it has some of the wittiest dialogs I've ever enjoyed listening to. I remember I liked Tom Holland's 'Fright Night' for its witty dialogs and its credibility as a next door tale. 'Braindead' too is close to any other credible next door tale, except that Lionel's house is the home of raging and murderous zombies. Now there are zombies of all age and sizes and Lionel's interaction with them is more of a spectacle. The scene where Lionel deals with the zombie baby is ludicrous and a great stress buster. People may berate this one for its offensive imagery, I still say that gore hounds and the admirers of bizarre and twisted have an ample scope to quench their thirst! So before planning to watch this one, here is a sample for you:

Paquita: (Screaming) Your mother ate my dog!

Lionel: (Taking dog's fur out of Vera's mouth)...Not all of it!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

NZonScreen listing


New Zealand


English | Spanish

Release Date:

12 February 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead Alive See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,765, 15 February 1993

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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