Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chocolate Covered Zombies

Zombies, like chocolate, are another favourite of mine. Not real-life zombies, of course, which I find to be rather dull and quite bitey, but zombies in movies and games. My love of zombies began when I first saw George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Like a lot of people I was instantly hooked on the genre and have been watching anything zombie-related for the better part of three decades.

There have been many memorable zombie films over the years including classic Romero (Night, Dawn, Day) which were quite serious (at the time) and portrayed mans struggle against the zombies hordes. That’s the thing with zombies, isn’t it? There’s never a zombie, or a couple, or even a few zombies about. It’s always a zombie zerg. It's a lot like Warhammer Online when you think about it: mindless fools shuffling from BO to BO before the eventual attack on the shopping I mean the keep.

I also enjoyed the humorous portrayals of mans fight against the walking dead in classics such as Return of the Living Dead and the Evil Dead series. Shaun of the Dead is the best of the zombie comedies, and one of my favourite films. It is a humorous comment on zombie-films, slackers, friends, gaming, relationships, and British culture. I like Simon Pegg and have done since I first saw him in the absolutley hilarious British television show Spaced many years ago.

Finally, an exciting use for the Cricket Bat

The portrayal of zombies turned a corner with the thought-provoking, alternate take on what it means to be a zombie in 28 Days Later. Danny Boyle is brilliant and his filmography reads like my all-time favorite movie list starting with Trainspotting in 1996 (though 1994's Shallow Grave was very good as well).

28 Days Later was the first time we were introduced to the idea that zombies could be fast. No more slow, stupid, shuffling dead, oh no. These were fast creatures infected with hatred. It was viral, and it was terrifying. Simply seeing London that deserted, at any time of the day, was frightening. I’m not easily scared by films but this one raised my heart beat more than a couple notches! 

....and so are your clean underwear.

This theme has been revisited in other great films including Will Smith in I Am Legend. I always find myself surprised when I say I like a Will Smith film as I remember him as the cheeky rapper, and then the Fresh Prince but he has turned in some fantastic roles over the years (Ali among the best of them). I couldn’t help but like I Am Legend (even though it wasn't a overly original take on the zombie genre), and that is in no small part because of the relationship between the main character and his dog. What can I say? I’m a dog person and a sucker for that angle. This film did introduce the idea that the infected (zombies) could learn, plan, and organize and that they didn't like the light (making them, arguably, vampires and not zombies).

The answer to your question, is "yes, I cried like a baby."

Another surprise find was Dead Set which was written by Charlie Booker and ran as a television series. I say 'surprised' because I've only seen Booker in his cheeky, satirical television shows and no idea that he wrote his own material. Dead Set was well done, and a funny and satirical comment on televisions and society (the setting was the Big Brother House- synopsis is they don't know the world has become zombified, until zombie-related horror ensues.) A BAFTA nominee that is well worth a look if you can find it (cough *iso hunt* cough).

Not all zombies are created equally however, or at least films (or television shows) portraying them are not. I recently finished watching AMD’s Walking Dead and was terribly disappointed. Well, replace disappointed with bored and disgusted that I sat through it all, and that would be closer to the truth. The setting and theme were well-worn re-mix of various other films and movies that we’ve seen in this genre which isn't always bad, but this one was. If you haven’t seen it, save yourself some time and go from the end of the first episode to the last half of the final one. The rest is worse than mediocre. It’s corny crap mushed up, and sugared for the mindless masses with the usual cookie-cutter characters with the standard expressions plastered on their stupid faces for the entire time. Did I mention I didn't like it?

As I started writing this I quickly got carried away (length wise) so I have decided serialize this one. I'll be continuing tomorrow with a look at a recent event in zombie-land, namely the Dead Island Trailer which has managed to stir up some controversy. Until then, lets have a bit of a laugh, shall we?


  1. Controversy? Really? I nearly cried when I saw it, I loved it so much. And I don't even play zombie games.

  2. The original Dead Island trailer (the one that goes backwards and has that great piano music - this one) is bloody awesome, one of the best trailers ever. And I have a feeling the game will be just as good.

    Anyway, I loved Shaun of the Dead (as I did Hot Fuzz) and 24 days later, though the sequel wasn't that good. I am legend wasn't bad either, it really caputred that "I am alone in this world" feeling.

    Oh and I hope that for your own good you mention Braindead (I kick ass for the lord!) and Død snø in part 2. :P I've probably forgotten a few you'll remind me off aswell.

    PS: NOOOoO! You started using the read more thing. It's the end of the world. (Good move imo :P)

  3. @ Sara- There were some people who were really disturbed by the scenes showing the child dying. I thought it was great as well- the point of my post tomorrow :)

    @ Blaq- I actually missed both of those but will get them immediately. Zombie Nazi's: how can you go wrong?

    I started using the 'read more thing' in an attempt to understand Bloggers' stats....can't figure out why I'm getting up to 50 page views a day, but my posts are only getting around 6-8 views. Makes no sense to me.....

  4. Yeah, it makes sense. You can't expect the post view counter to go up if people don't actually have to click on your posts to read them.

    Though the real reason for using the read more function is to save space. I find having 10 rather than 3 posts on the main page much more functional. I don't like having to shuffle through several pages of posts to find one or read the old ones (which I have to do here quite a bit, simply because you post so often!).

    Dead Snow is quite good, it's a Finnish horror zombie film with a quite a bit of comedy, sort of like Braindead, which is gross on top of it. But funny gross! :D

  5. I never though of that....having more posts on a single page. I'll do that, cheers.

    Will also get those films.