HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: BRAIN DEAD

CAST

Timothy Balme (Maddigans Quest)
Diana Penalver (El Comisario)
Elizabeth Moody (Heavenly Creatures)
Ian watkin (Sleeping Dogs)
Brenda Kendall (Fracture)
Stuart Devenie (Jack of All Trades)
Jed Brophy (The Hobbit)
Stephen Papps (The Piano)
Murray Keane (The Tribe)

In 1957, explorer Stewart McAlden (Bill Ralston), leads his team out of Skull Island with a captured Sumatran Rat-Monkey — a hybrid creature that resulted from the rape of tree monkeys on the island by plague-carrying rats. The team is stopped by warrior natives, who demand the return of the creature.Stewart gets bitten by the Rat-Monkey during their escape to a waiting jeep. Seeing the bite mark on Stewart’s right hand, his men hold him down and amputate it. A bite mark and scratches are then seen on his left arm and his head, respectively, and those parts are also removed. The captured Rat-Monkey is shipped to Wellington Zoo in New Zealand.

Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) lives with his domineering mother, Vera (Elizabeth Moody). To Vera’s dismay, Lionel falls in love with a shopkeeper’s daughter, Paquita María Sánchez (Diana Peñalver). While snooping on the two during a visit to the zoo, Vera is bitten by the rat-monkey. The animal’s bite turns her into a ravenous zombie. Lionel tries keeping her locked in the basement while simultaneously trying to maintain his relationship with the oblivious Paquita. Vera escapes and is hit by a tram.

As the townspeople assume she is dead, Lionel tranquilizes her to keep her still for the funeral. After she is buried, he returns to the graveyard to administer more anesthetic, but encounters a gang of hoodlums. Vera bursts from her grave, and kills the hoodlums, creating more zombies. As their numbers grow, Lionel conceals them in his house, and struggles to keep them under relative control with tranquilizer injections. Lionel’s uncle Les (Ian Watkin) arrives to wrangle with Lionel over Vera’s estate. Discovering the “corpses,” Les blackmails his nephew into giving up his inheritance.

Lionel reluctantly administers poison to the zombies to “kill” them and buries them. However, the poison turns out to be a stimulant. Meanwhile, Les invites his friends over for a housewarming party. The zombies burst from the ground to attack the party guests. Lionel informs Paquita and Les of the zombie outbreak. Les escapes through a window while Lionel distracts the zombies from Paquita. Les goes into the basement, where he encounters Vera, who has turned into a giant zombie. She kills Les.

Lionel kills most of the zombies with a running lawnmower. He and Paquita fight dozens of zombies and animated body parts. During the conflict, an open gas pipe ignites, setting the house ablaze. Lionel manages to kill all of the zombies in the house. Vera, who has become a gargantuan monster with a grossly distorted head and huge breasts, emerges and pursues Lionel and Paquita to the rooftop. Paquita is left hanging on to the edge of the roof while Lionel confronts his mother.During the confrontation, it is revealed that Lionel witnessed Vera killing his father and his father’s lover. Vera causes Lionel to fall toward her as she opens her womb, engulfing him. Vera then tries to kill Paquita by removing her hands from the roof. Lionel cuts his way out of his mother’s body, causing her to fall into the burning house. Lionel and Paquita escape the building and walk away arm-in-arm as the fire department arrives.Brain Dead is a delightfully stomach-turning ride through a town full of zombies, body parts, . Although it’s not for the faint of stomach. Horror fans will love it.

REVIEW: MADDIGANS QUEST

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Izombie)
Jordan Metcalfe (Genie In The House)
Zac Fox (Scoial Suicide)
Olivia Tennet (Power Rangers RPM)
Rawiri Pene (This Is Not My Life)
Danielle Cormack (Xena)
Timothy Balme (Brain Dead)
Rachel House (Eagle vs Shark)
Hori Ahipene (Jack of All Trades)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Daube (Power Rangers Samurai)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Ross Duncan (Young Hercules)
Tandi Wright (Black Sheep)
Alison Bruce (Sylvia)
Milo Cawthorne (Deathgasm)
Tom Hern (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)

First created as a novel by our most famous young-adult author Margaret Mahy (winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Hans Christian Anderson award), “Maddigan’s Quest” is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the wilderness is dangerous and the roads still partially unmapped. Out of the ashes of what is known as “the Great Chaos”, was built Solis, the shining city. It is here that the circus troop known as Maddigan’s Fantasia spends the winter, before heading out each summer in order to explore new lands, collect lost knowledge, meet new people and spread some colour and joy.

But this year things are different. Solis is powered by the sun, and is in need of a new solar converter if the city is to remain the single bright beacon in a dark world. Missionaries have been sent out to retrieve one from the town of Newton, but none have returned. Thus the council turn to Maddigan’s Fantasia – since the circus head out every year anyway they are certain to be overlooked by any political spies or traitors that plot the demise of Solis.

And yet it becomes even more complicated when the troop is joined by two young boys and their baby sister, claiming that they are from a future in which the Fantasia have failed in their mission and Solis has come under the control of the treacherous Nennog. As such, Timon and Eden have been sent back in time by their parents in order to ensure the success of the Fantasia, using their prior knowledge of events to help.

So who are the Fantasia? A group of clowns, acrobats, magicians, fortune tellers and jugglers who form together a warm, cheerful, squabbling, and utterly loyal extended family. In fact, the family dynamic of the circus is perhaps the highlight of the show, comparable to the crew of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” or the “X-Men” family franchise; a group of colourful characters who are all given unique and interesting relationships with each other, across generations, genders and family intrigues.

Out of the cast, it is the child-actors who provide the strongest performances. Rose McIver is our narrator, a fourteen year old acrobat who keeps track of their progress in her diary and is being groomed as the next ring-leader of the Fantasia. As the two boys from the future, Jordan Metcalfe and Zac Fox (Timon and Eden) come across as both capable and vulnerable, with Metcalfe in particular shining as a young teen given the huge burden of responsibility of protecting his younger siblings and seeing the mission is successful. A slow attraction between him and Garland is sure to appeal to romantics, made poignant by the fact that if they *are* successful in retrieving the solar converter, the two of them will be separated by almost one hundred years. Rawiri Pene plays Garland’s oldest friend Boomer, who is rather jealous of the sophisticated Timon and his growing bond with Garland, and Olivia Tennant provides the most laughs as the flighty, somewhat spoilt Lilth. Rounding out the adult cast is Garland’s parents Ferdy and Maddie, feuding couple Goneril and Tane, and the untrustworthy Yves (Lilith’s father), who has his eyes set on Garland’s beautiful mother.

Each episode deals with a different location on the way to Newton and back again, as well as conflict within the group, danger from marauding gangs and agents from the future out to prevent the successful return of the Fantasia. The individual circus talents of the troop are instigated in ingenious ways, the post-apocalyptic world is both threatening but full of hope and potential for the future, and the stories are exactly what one would expect to emerge from the imagination of Mahy.

 

It’s not all perfect; the material used is better suited for hour-long programming rather than a mere half-hour, and although the costumes, sets and props are vividly created, the special-effects often look rather fake. And don’t even get me started on a discussion on the tampering done with the fundamental ‘rules’ of time travelling. But for all this “Maddigan’s Quest” is a great show that may be aimed predominantly at kids, but is certainly not exclusively for them