Dead Mate (1988)

Dead Mate (1988) movie poster

director Straw Weisman
viewed: 03/14/2018

In Dead Mate a.k.a. Graverobbers, a mad funeral home operator has developed a complex electrocution-cum-bodily fluids treatment for dead bodies, one which eradicates the AIDS virus. Making corpses “safe” for sex. Not that that is the only reason for necrophilia, though it seems a significant one here.

Two ambulance drivers who have sex with the untreated corpse end up as zombies later in the film.

Dead Mate is at least in part a body horror film, which explicitly foregrounds AIDS. In 1986, David Cronenberg’s The Fly was read as an AIDS metaphor by some. Are there other horror films of the period that cited the then ravaging disease?

AIDS is only articulated aloud twice in Dead Mate, but remains rather pointedly foregrounded at the same time. The “safe sex” plot point is foreshadowed in an early sequence in which waitress Nora (Elizabeth Mannino) is propositioned by a prophylactic salesman, who points out that his products would prevent transmission of AIDS.

The last twenty or so minutes of Dead Mate swerve decidedly away from the primary narrative arc into a litany of weird twists and turns into a decidedly bonkers territory. It almost seems like writer-director Straw Weisman figured to start throwing the kitchen sink at the audience after a while. I really wasn’t expecting the whole “Where are they now” sequence at the end.

On top of all this, Dead Mate is a seriously strange vibe and overall aesthetic. Dark comedy pervades, though is often subtle or unsuccessful, adding to the weirdness.

Not what most anyone is expecting, is my guess.

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