One of the things I love about zombie movies is that there are some unspoken rules that the audience goes into the movie knowing, which then cuts out your exposition time. One of the things that I hate about zombie movies is that there are some unspoken rules that the audience goes into the movie knowing, and if one of these rules is broken…
…the movie is looked poorly upon.
Confused yet? Good! I would say that the top three of these unspoken rules would be that zombies are not alive, zombies want to either eat people or spread their zombie-ness to other by biting them, and shooting a zombie in the head or otherwise destroying its brain will kill it. The following list is full of movies that make for really fun zombie movies or are typically regarded as zombie movies, but they break at least one of the previously stated rules.
6) 28 Days Later…
Most people’s first reaction to this movie was: “Running zombies?! I don’t think so!” You’ll notice that I didn’t state running as an important zombie rule, as quite a few zombie movies in the past decade have featured zombies that have no problem moving with urgency. The only “rule” that this movie really adheres to is the fact that the virus in the film is spread by bodily fluids, whether that be blood or saliva or, well, we didn’t see any other scenes that ran the gamut of bodily fluid ingestion. At the time this movie was released, it made perfect sense to tap into the fear we have of blood and the deterioration of society, similarly to how Romero showed the dangers of science and the collapse of social order in Day of the Dead. Also, I think we can all agree that if it wasn’t for the success of this movie, there wouldn’t have been Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Land of the Dead or the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Hey, I’m not saying whether or not some of those movies should have been made, just pointing out the help they got from 28 Days Later…
5) [REC] 2
Again, similar to 28 Days Later…, this film really only sticks to the idea of bodily fluids being the transmission of the infection. The reason this movie needs to be represented and given some credit is because it directly connects the infection with the religious element that most movies only hint at. Zombies almost always show up as some science experiment gone wrong, and only randomly will we see a religious fanatic saying it’s punishment for our sins, but [REC] 2 had no qualms about blaming not just the progression of science but also the existence of demons that can travel from one body to another with the help of some spit.
The title alone gives away the fact that this isn’t a traditional zombie movie, but the appearance of monstrous creatures whose main goal seems to be to bite their victims to create more demons, thus leading to cities being overrun with these monsters, definitely sounds familiar to what happens in most zombies movies. The victims that are trapped in a movie theater with no hope, no understanding of what’s happening, and the paranoia that causes them to turn on one another is just about as “zombie” as you can get.
Herbert West, a man of science, believes he has unlocked the secret of life through his confrontations with death. Although West never quite reveals his passion of pursuing this endeavor, other than for the pure defiance of the human body, he has the brain power to make himself a worthy adversary of death. However, once reanimated, it seems as though nothing can stop his creations, and I seem to remember a beheaded man spending some “quality time” with the beautiful Barbara Crampton. It gave every man hope for a chance with Barbara Crampton, as just having our heads still attached put us ahead of the competition.
Maybe I’m too immersed in the horror genre to understand that it comes as a shock to most people that Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings and King Kong fame got his start making insane horror movies in New Zealand. Rather than science or religion, the events in Braindead (also known as Dead Alive) are started by a legendary creature known as a Sumatran Rat-Monkey biting our hero Lionel’s (Timothy Balme) mother, causing her die and eventually come back from the dead. From there, his mother starts biting and subsequently infecting person after person, and when Lionel fails to keep these deaths under wraps, some of the goriest scenes of carnage follow. If only these creatures could be killed as easily as having their heads cut off, but even an attack on a horde of these creatures by Lionel wielding a lawn mower isn’t enough. Pure comedy start to finish, and some of the most memorable gore that the genre has seen. Let it be an inspiration to all horror filmmakers out there that you might start with buckets of blood and end up with an Oscar.
1) Return of the Living Dead
You’d think that this unofficial spin-off of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead would stick a little bit closer to the source material, but luckily for us, it doesn’t. I’m not going to try to convince you guys that I’d last in a zombie apocalypse, but knowing that these slow, lumbering monsters had a giant vulnerability on top of their shoulders, they seem to be more of an irritation than a threat. Return of the Living Dead made their ghouls just that much more intelligent and just that much more resilient, leaving the government no option other than to nuke the entire town. A ton of fun, lots of ridiculous moments, and have I mentioned Linnea Quiqley dancing naked in a graveyard? On second thought, that’s probably what I should have led with.
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