They’re rude, they’re rotten, they’re radical . . . Zombies bitch!
How’s it goin Nerds?
I feel like talking Zombies. I love Zombies. They are the most horrifying creatures that I can think of. Whether green or grey, boney or bloated I can’t seem to find anything more terrifying than the risen dead. Let’s get into Zombies and what we all love or better yet, fear about those who once lived yet still walk.
Originally of Afro-Caribbean folklore, a Zombie is a person possessed by a voodoo sorcerer in order to do the sorcerer’s bidding. Tales of people being brought back to life by voodoo for the same purpose are not unheard of . . .blabity blah blah
What I’m interested in are not real zombies or zombie tales from Haiti or Africa, I’m interested in kick ass zombie fun from kick ass zombie movies.
Zombies have been immortalized in film throughout the history of cinema, but what do we love about them? What is it about the undead that fascinate and shake us to the core? If you’re like me, then your love for zombie films starts with Mr. George Andrew Romero. Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead marks the introduction of the modern zombie, and more importantly the revolutionary jumping off point of contemporary horror. The modern zombie is a human that has risen from his/her death to walk on earth once more. Simply put, this f*cking film is amazing, and is the most important movie in horror history. Night of the Living Dead was so horrifying a tale with such mind-blowing imagery and fresh socio-political ideology that it changed the horror genre, as we know it. Romero’s film shows the end of the world as the dead rise, for no explicable reason, to terrorize the living and devour them. This, to me, sets the precedent for the modern zombie, although the concept has been modified and personalized by different filmmakers and storytellers since Night hit theatres.
I am a slow zombies guy all the way. That’s the way Romero did it, and the way it should be. To really experience true horror you must understand the slow zombie. A zombie running toward you spiting up half digested body parts while roaring like a rabid cougar is scary, but it’s scary the same way a cougar is scary, or anything running at you for that matter. The fear is quick and specific. Once the initial threat has stopped the fear subsides. Now a slow zombie, that is knee-buckling terror.
As the re-animated corpse lumbers methodically towards you, your mind races to find a solid thought to hold onto. With every dragging step closer you recoil with physical fear as you ponder that this was once a living creature. All that you once identified as “living” has changed shape. A body that was void of every characteristic that would classify something as alive is now moving sluggishly towards you. The monster strains its rotted tissue and squeezes out puss filled gurgles and wrenching groans. As it’s jaws loosely twitch in a routinely timed chomp, you feel so alone in a world where there is no more concept of heaven, reincarnation, or any fairytale afterlife you grew up so fond of. The only fate that awaits you, is a slow death torn apart by those you once loved, and a stumbling blank eternity as one of the risen. Then finally as they gather and start to feed, your flesh burns as dull teeth gnaw leisurely away at you. All you can do is scream blindly into the air and try with your last shred of humanity to understand, but soon your eyes will see again and it will all become clear.
I saw one of those things take thirty hits and keep on coming. The damn thing had to be dead, but it kept on coming. Until it took a hit in the head, that brought it down. The only way to stop them, you have to… get them in the head. I don’t know what’s going on, but I know it’s not a prison break. No chemical I ever heard about can make a dead man walk. This is something that nobody has ever heard about or seen before. This is hell on earth. This is pure hell on earth. -Dialogue from Night of the Living Dead (1990)
That is FUCKING horror. The undead jumping 30 feet in the air and running faster than cars is not horror. It is ridiculous. How can a zombie gain powers in death that it didn’t posses in life? Why would a man that can jump 6 inches off the ground suddenly be able to clear walls after he rises from the grave? Sorry kids, but that’s just f*ckin retarded. Rigor Mortis sets in only a few hours after death, and the stiff hardening of limbs would make it hard to even walk let alone climb along walls.
A few films that I believe ruined the idea of zombies:
28 Days Later
Dawn of the Dead (remake)
Without these movies, maybe zombie films would not have become the box office jerk off sessions being eaten up by the reality show hungry masses. Maybe people would still shiver at the thought of the dead returning, instead of laugh about puma noises and cheap gags to make the audience jump.
Let me chill out with the preachy, boo hoo , p*ssy ass zombie nostalgia. What about awesome zombie flicks? Well there are 3 that are the bible if you ask me.
The Holy 3:
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Day of the Dead (1985)
All these films are classic by my standards, and they are the template for every great zombie story.
How about a few international titles?
Cemetery Man (1994)
Zombie Holocaust (1980)
Three must sees, all Italian imports coincidentally. I guess the paisans know their flesh eaters.
Last but not least, three great zombie stories that stray from the norm:
Dead Alive (1992)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Three stories that bend the rules, but break new ground for sure. If you haven’t seen these 9 movies, then you better lock the door, load up the shotgun, and stock up on canned food cause you’ve got a lot of blood, brains, and bile to wade through on your Netflix queue.
An argument I find myself in often with my fellow horror nerds, is what makes a zombie a zombie? Are other undead iconic horror figures zombies? What makes a horror flick a zombie movie?
For instance, the Evil Dead series, are they zombie movies? Of course they are! Yeah, Candarian demons posses everybody, but then they get killed and some buried, and then they come back. So here we have demons causing zombies. See, I think, if something dies and comes back to life then it’s a zombie. Unless, of course, it is part of a specific supernatural phenomenon that categorizes it as something else, like a vampire, then obviously it isn’t a zombie. In Evil Dead, Linda is dead but she comes back, gets decapitated and still continues her brutal attack. She is a zombie, her re-animation is a result of demonic possession, but she is still a f*ckin zombie.
Jason Voorhees is one of my favorite characters to debate on the zombie issue. This horror hog says, “Total f*ckin zombie, all the way”. Voorhees is dead. He doesn’t want to eat brains or flesh, but he’s dead as sh*t and killing everyone. People argue that he was never really killed until Friday the 13th 4: The Final Chapter, but that is grade A bullsh*t. Jason dies in 3. He gets axed in the head for God’s sake. Not to mention, the reason Pamela Voorhees is killing in the first place is because her little boy had drowned. So do we ever even see Jason alive? He’s a bad ass, backwoods, big headed zombie that will stop at nothing til his thirst for death and dismemberment is quenched.
Pet Sematary is another film that people will argue is not a zombie movie. Dead things buried in the old Micmac burial ground come back to life. . . zombies folks. I don’t care if it’s old books, green goo, sacred ground, gates of hell, doors of death, or gay viruses, if they die and come back . . .ZOMBIES, ZOMBIES, ZOMBIES!
Man, I love this sh*t! However, i’m sure you’re all sick of hearing what I have to say. Let’s see what some respected zombie fans and freaks have to say on the subject of the undead.
“As I understand it, you’re interested in knowing why fans love zombies. It occurred to me that describing their appeal would appear ridiculous to a normal person, but I admit I do love them shamelessly. I suppose the charm of the living dead lies in their unquenchable desire to satisfy their own appetites with the flesh of others. It’s that acute primal passion that I admire and also fear most. My favorite zombie is the Tar Man from Return of the Living Dead, my favorite zombie film is Dawn of the Dead (original) and my favorite zombie moment is the scene in Day of the Dead where Rhodes is literally torn to pieces by attacking zombies. It doesn’t get much more disturbing, nor does it get any more delightful than that! Also, if you can consider Frankenstein or Robocop zombie movies, count them in as well!”
“My love for zombies stems from monster flicks growing up. Plague of the Zombies and Romero’s Dawn of the Dead are standouts. For me, the scare factor is the unknown. They’re the living dead. What are they thinking about? Will they harm you? Will they bite your face off? My favorite zombies are slow moving, lethargic and lethal if they get a hold of you. Ken Wiederhorn’s Shock Waves is in my top “zombie” film list.”
-Jason Barnett, Industrial Monsters and Props/IMP FX
“When most parents were plopping their kids down in front of the latest Disney movies, my mother was letting me stay up super late to watch Night of the Living Dead. Perhaps as a Pittsburgh native, zombies are just naturally supposed to be part of us. I had never seen anything so terrifying, and I wanted to run and hide, but my mom and uncle were relishing every gory detail and having a blast. I relaxed and came to enjoy it myself. Now I am no horror nerd, but since then I have loved the genre very much. My favourite zombie flick would have to be Cemetery Man. I love the way the engineer tackles the task of killing the returners. He doesn’t strap himself down with heavy artillery, and wage WWIII like a psychotic killing machine. He simply must shoot them, discreetly, with finesse. It’s just a fact of his life, and I think it’s brilliant.”
-Brianne, Fashion Designer
“Jason Voorhees is NOT a zombie!!”
-Timmy, FX Artist/Player Hater
“I have a love hate relationship with Zombies. I love the cannibalistic instincts they possess after being affected with a parasite that only removing the head or destroying the brain can terminate the carnage, but I’d hate to spend the rest of my life munching on people. I’ve always been a biter but not to that extent. Evil Dead and Shaun of the Dead have to be my favorite Zed- movies! It just doesn’t get better than those for me.”
“I think that the Zombie Apocalypse works so well because it presents such a visceral and unimaginable scenario. Terrorist attack? Sure, it’s plausible. Giant earthquake, why not? Hurricane destroys city? Could happen. But the idea of the dead returning to life is so far removed from our state of mind that its something I think none of us could rationalize if it were actually happening. And it is within that frenzied irrational state that the true terror of the Zombie genre is born. The thing that has always scared me about Zombie movies/ fiction is the way the living characters react not so much to the zombies, but to each other. If you ever get the chance I HIGHLY recommend reading Max Brooks’ World War Z. Through a series of interviews it paints a frighteningly vivid picture of the near total collapse of the human race at the hands of the undead. I feel that it is to date pinnacle achievement within the Zombie genre.”
-Ryan Trioxin, Special Make-up FX Artist
“First off I’m not even sure that the current/modern image of a zombie should be called a zombie, more like the living dead than a zombie. I have been thinking about it, aren’t zombies people who are altered by drugs or magic in order to do the bidding of another? Doesn’t even matter, that sh*t’s still scary. Imagine a Voodoo priest using magic on your ass and BAM you’re stuck as a mindless slave working on some Haitian banana farm. Fuck that, I hear they don’t even have unions down there and the 401k plans don’t even roll over when you get moved to another farm. The original 3 Romero “Dead” flicks have to be the best yet. They affect me the most because of the way they portray not the living-dead, but the way they show humanity caving in on itself and the true nature of humans. The thing that scares me the most about “zombies”? Are you f*cking kidding me? THEY ARE FUCKING ZOMBIES! Living dead fiends who hunger for living human flesh, with over 6 billion people in the world that’s a lot of food and in turn that’s a lot of zombies. If you get attacked they f*cking eat you and they don’t even need to. First of all, they’re dead, they have no use for any type of nourishment, they’re only eating you because they’re assholes. Next, if you get attacked and happen to get away you better make sure you didn’t get bit, you dumb bastard. You’ve become one of them, a living dead asshole from beyond the grave. The thing that’s scary is, the fact that with every advancement we make in the fields of technology and medicine it’s just one more step closer to the fiction becoming a reality. Just for a laugh do some research on neurogenesis or nanobots. Let’s not forget the threat of overpopulation, too many people packed together all sharing the common cold how long before some sort of super-flu type disease mutates into something that causes dead tissue to stay active, and to hunger?”
– Travthulu, International Man of Misery