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Braindead (1992) or livewithfilm sources the perfect film for a midnight showing but is swiftly put off its minstrels

7 May

Another day, another superb midnight screening from the haven of the horrible, the sanctuary of the sickening: the PrinceCharlesCinema. Acting as a clarion call for all genre fans, these witching-hour shows exemplify both the joys and tribulations of the horror devotee. Frowned upon by the snobbish filmic establishment, livewithfilm and its fellow fans were forced to congregate under the cover of darkness to enjoy the nastiest scenes that cinema had to offer. Fortunately enough, livewithfilm cannot think of a film to suit such a setting more than the gore-caked Braindead. Having shared groans and wails, the movie audience left the cinema unified in a state of awe.

Terrified into servitude by his overbearing mother, meek Lionel (Timothy Balme) is delighted when local girl Paquita (Diana Penalver) begins to take an interest in him. However, his romantic plans collapse once a bite from a Sumatran Rat Monkey transforms the matriarch into a swiftly decaying zombie. Attempting to hide his decomposing family member from the inquisitive townsfolk, Lionel is forced to contain and ultimately battle a slowly increasing horde of flesh-eaters.

Even with livewithfilm’s extensive experience of the darker side of cinema, this blogger was taken aback by the waves of gore that spewed from Peter Jackson’s film. Officially the bloodiest movie ever made (300 litres of the red-stuff was used in the final scene alone), livewithfilm was forced to put down its nibbles almost immediately as its stomach took a turn for the worse. Yet clearly inspired by Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), Jackson offsets this tidal wave of body matter with a razor sharp wit. Never pertaining to any high-brow state, Braindead gleefully revels in its own absurdity and subsequently pulls off scenes of progressive lunacy. Sporting Kung fu priests (‘I kick arse for the Lord!’), man-eating internal organs and zombie offspring, Braindead has everything a grindhouse fan yearns for. Just steer clear of the custard…

Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) or livewithfilm fights the bug to attend triple bill no.1

27 Apr

As any self respecting horror fan can attest, there was going to be no way that livewithfilm could miss a midnight trilogy of its favourite gore-soaked trio. Manned with energy drinks and its own bodyweight in sweet and salted popcorn (don’t knock it before you’ve tried it), livewithfilm gave itself every support needed to last the night through. Rather bizarrely, the blood drenched triple bill had been a source of motivation for livewithfilm’s recovery: a living dead health goal. And livewithfilm was not even the keenest fan there… To those who were decked out in zombie face paint, t-shirts and themed outfits, livewithfilm salutes you with a rotting hand.

‘They’re coming to get you Barbara’ mocks an understandably sceptical ‘heroic’ figure at the start of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Such reassuringly recognisable genre elements are swiftly ended once Johnny is dashed to pieces against the nearest grave stone. Despite its age and wit, Night of the Living Dead stills shocks, subverting what is expected of it with great glee. Following Barbra (Judith O’Dea) as she flees an unexplained wave of pursuing homicidal figures, Romero’s film sees her find shelter in a seemingly abandoned house. Joined by fellow fugitive Ben (Duane Jones), the pair is forced to contend with both the amassing zombie force outside and an aggressively defensive family in the cellar. Building slowly to an unrelenting pace for the final act, Night of the Living Dead is consistently entertaining and humorously subversive. Superbly grisly in black and white to boot.

Once the grim finale of Night of the Living Dead had flickered from the screen, the instantaneously blood-drenched opening of Dawn of the Dead left livewithfilm gawping. Without respite in between, the visual disparity between Night and Dawn added to the stunning violence of Romero’s 70s outing. Society is falling apart following an onslaught of zombie attackers. Keen to escape, four companions helicopter their way to a shopping mall, setting up camp in what they believe is an impregnable fortress. Neatly expanding the world of Night, Dawn develops the zombie vision on all fronts, amping up the monsters, blood and laughs into a heady mix of scares. Never as cuttingly satirical as Night, the film points its accusing finger at American consumerism: mindless zombies recreating the shuffling shoppers. Romero clearly isn’t satisfied with his nation’s culture.

Starting in the early hours, the unrelentingly grim Day of the Dead finished the night with the most complete (satisfying is the wrong word as the film is truly anything but) vision of an apocalyptic zombie nightmare. Working from a small bunker, a group of small survivors attempt to find any surviving remnant of humanity. Overseen by a tyrannical military commander, this band of scientists also continues their research into a cure that can save the world. Yet surrounded by the living dead, the claustrophobic atmosphere proves too much for the inhabitants. Day of the Dead is a tough watch even after six hours of gore. Yet superbly, it does boast Bub – the first sympathetic zombie. Livewithfilm did not expect to end the night rooting for a walking corpse…