I hadn't seen this Peter Jackson zombie movie since its opening week, nearly twenty years ago, and was surprised at how well it held up over-time. In part, I think it's because it takes place in the late 1950's. And those effects are impressive. It features "hyper" zombies, like that of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.
In an extremely funny spoof/homage to KING KONG, this film begins on Skull island, where the rare Rat Monkey has been captured. The explorer is nearly stopped by natives and then is bit by the creature. Its bite is not only fatal but has another unexpected side-effect, which doesn't end well for the explorer. Then, the movies goes to New Zealand. Lionel Cosgrove is a nerdy man, who still lives with his domineering, repulsive mother. A Hispanic woman, Paquita, after a Tarot Card reading from her grandmother, believes that he's the guy for her. Their first date as at the local zoo, where that weird Rat Monkey is in a cage. However, Lionel's mother is spying on the couple and ends up being bit by the weird creature. Furious, she kills it. Later that night it begins to change her--she develops these weird pustules. It gets worse when she has company over and contaminates some of the others. As people are transformed, including a priest and a nurse, Lionel locks them up in the basement, until he can't hide them any longer. There's even a weird zombie-monster-baby that's born, which is unexpected. The end, in which he dispatches the majority of the undead with a lawnmower, is still amazing. However, the confrontation with his evil mother, in which she transforms into a giant monster, is almost exact same ending as THE BONEYARD (1991), which I thought was too much. Nevertheless, DEAD ALIVE remains one of the best zombie movies of the 20th Century.