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Vera Cosgrove acts as the story's main antagonist from the very first moment and continues to play that role right up to the spectacularly violent finale, she is also the mother of the story's main hero but there is little love between the two as she is a complete monster in every sense of the word and becomes even worse after her descent into zombification.
Vera Cosgrove was the overbearing mother of the timid Lionel Cosgrove, who is extremely devoted to her - a trait she mercilessly exploits via manipulation and bullying, when Lionel starts to fall in love with Paquita the control freak within Vera goes into overkill and she begins to stalk her own son in order to keep a close eye on him and his would-be-lover (whom Vera had developed an intense dislike of merely for dating her son).
However while spying on her son at the zoo Vera edged too close to an enclosure containing the vicious Sumatran Rat-Monkey and the creature bit her - infuriated at this Vera proceeds to kill the creature before she is escorted out of the zoo by a distraught Lionel (Vera is quick to play on his emotions as well as she complains bitterly about her plight).
However the nightmare was just beginning for Lionel as the Sumatran Rat-Monkey's bite began to slowly mutate Vera into a zombie, despite the obvious dangers (along with some of cinema's most memorable "gross-out" scenes) the ever loyal Lionel tries desperately to care of his ingrateful mother and even tries to placate her with occassional doses of anasthetic.
Yet try as he may Lionel was unable to prevent Vera from attacking other townspeople and infecting them with the curse of zombification, this eventually prompted Lionel to keep her locked in his basement but she escapes and is run over by a tram.
Everyone in town believed Vera was dead at that point but fate wasn't so kind of Lionel and he had to tranquilize the zombie so that it could finally be buried, yet when Lionel returned to the graveyard to check on the grave he was attacked by thugs - prompting Vera to burst her way out of the ground and attack (though it was doubtful this was due to any love for her son).
As a result the zombie plague simply became worse and Lionel is forced to tend to an ever increasing number of undead, keeping them in his home while periodically injecting them with tranquilizers to stop their attacks on the living.
However things just went from bad to worse for Lionel when his greedy Uncle Les arrives to try and get Vera's property (since she was presumed deceased) - in the process Uncle Les discovers the "corpses" and proceeds to blackmail Lionel into giving up his inheritence in exchange for Les' promise to keep quiet.
Uncle Les and his friends then proceed to have a housewarming party while Lionel secretly disposes of the zombies via injecting them with what he believes is poison - yet Lionel's incredible bad luck surfaces again as the "poison" is revealed to be animal stimulants instead, which rouses the zombies into a murderous rampage in a spectacularly gorey confrontation.
Lionel and Paquita proceed to fight hundreds of zombies (in varying states of undeath) - leading up to the arrival of a horrendously mutated Vera, who is now a gargantuan abomination.
Vera proceeds to pursue Lionel and Paquita onto the rooftop and gets into a confrontation with her son, who finally stands up to her (it is also revealed in a flashback that Vera murdered her husband in a bathtub while Lionel watched, as a small boy - a memory he had repressed until that moment): Vera proceeds to grab her son and imprison him inside herself but is killed soon after when Lionel cuts his way free (in an extremely over-the-top gore-moment).With the death of Vera peace is finally restored and Lionel and Paquita walk away, hand in hand, from the burning remains of the former Cosgrove residence - presumably to a happier life.