Sunday, May 17
I picked up another copy of the Trimark DVD (entitled Dead Alive) yesterday morning so I figured I'd revisit it as last night's feature. A normal little review is unnecessary since I'm sure most reading this have already seen this rite of gory passage. So I figured I'd just write a few things I noticed about the film.
I believe the true testament of Braindead's value is the BBFC's 1992 uncut pass for British distribution and eventual home video release. The ratings board has loosened its belt for the past few years, but they were still quite conservative then. They "got" what Jackson was doing and that's what makes his third feature so special.
Even though it's debatable whether it's pound-for-pound the goriest of all time; I'd consider the awesome grue on display to be since it's not merely gore for gore's sake. All of the gags work and none are played for "realistic" shock value. I don't believe so, but perhaps one of Jackson's secondary intents was to show how toothless gore effects really are to anyone's social well-being. In effect, the film exhibits just how hypocritical ratings boards generally are.
I liked the well-accomplished radio-controlled rail trolleys running about Wellington that points to creativity outside of what the film is known for. Obviously the bus system was quite different in the early '90s than in the '50s setting of the film and Jackson even includes a virtually invisible live-action/RC trolley composite shot. Also the park sequence in which Lionel has to "care" for the mutant baby is genius and shows Jackson didn't need gallons of karo syrup to be hilarious.
Trimark's DVD (and Lionsgate's identical re-issue) runs exactly 1:37:05 and represents the U.S. unrated cut created by Jackson himself from his original 104 minute cut. I agree with most of the omitted material as it mostly tightens the flow of the zombie party sequence. The "God Save the Queen" opening doesn't mean much to American audiences, but I do wish the "demise" of the in-love vicar and nurse zombies was included. In this version, the two sorta just disappear in the chaos.
The DVD is also framed at 1.78:1, slightly tighter than the intended ratio of 1.66:1. It doesn't sound like much, but when comparing the two frames the U.S. disc is indeed compromised a bit. Though the trade-off is the best picture quality on home video yet. Most other discs are overly dark non-anamorphic transfers that are definitely lacking.