Thursday, October 15, 2009

zombies: a love story in 19 movie posters and one book recommendation

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Last night I attended the opening of The Soap Factory's famous Haunted Basement, an experience that I found appropriately terrifying. This Saturday I'll be carving a jack-o-lantern (hopefully in a BSG design), an encore viewing of Paranormal Activity might pop up on the agenda, and come October 31st, I'll be celebrating at l'étoile's Clubhouse Jager party l'étoile-o-ween.

In the spirit of the season, I put together a list of my favorite zombie movies. Though it shames me, I must disclose that I haven't yet seen: Pontypool, Grace, Dead Snow, Colin, Dead Set, [rec] (the Spanish inspiration of Quarantine) Carriers, Deadgirl, and Zombie Strippers ( [snooty accent] Jenna Jameson in a zombie movie based on a Eugene Ionesco play? How delightfully gauche!).

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (just that one scene where the reporter gets eaten by the zombie school children): I hated Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Like, a lot. However, there are few things creepier than zombie children, and a mob of them bringing you down in a deserted classroom is a pretty horrific thought. This scene always gives me shivers. Too bad it's in a movie that I find boring, convoluted and unsatisfying.

Resident Evil: Extinction: Other than the aforementioned Apocalypse, I quite enjoy the Resident Evil franchise. Sure, there are the boring exposition meetings of the Rainbow Corporation suits, but this movie had Milla Jovovich kicking ass, zombie crows and Ashanti (whom I find inoffensive!). What more could you want out of mindless entertainment?

Dead & Breakfast: Stellar cast. Amusing premise. Nobody saw it.

Fido: Zombies are a man's best friend.

Resident Evil: The first Resident Evil movie is perhaps the only film based on a video game that I really enjoy (fingers crossed for Bio-Shock!). True, they totally ripped off that hallway laser slice and dice scene from Cube, but they also have Milla Jovovich kung fu fighting zombie dobermans, and Michelle Rodriguez playing the same character that she always plays. A badass.

Day of the Dead: A perfect demonstration of the fact that cauterizing a zombie bite is not nearly as fun as it sounds.

Planet Terror: Just like Erma Bombeck said, if life gives you a leg amputation due to a zombie attack, make a prosthetic machine gun leg. That was one of her sayings, right?

28 Weeks Later: Really? The only survivor of the zombie plague is a carrier, and you leave her completely unguarded and within reach of her husband. Lame. But awesome.

Quarantine: I've read quite a few negative reviews of this film, but I don't quite understand the vitriol. It's pretty standard zombie fare, but with an interesting twist. The characters have been quarantined in an apartment building by the U.S. government. They will be shot if they try to exit the building. So in this case, it's a desperate tale of survival with no real hope of escape. Jennifer Carpenter stars, and I'm really becoming a fan of hers. She was perfect in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (and apparently super double-jointed), and she's one of the best actors on Dexter (a pretty impressive feat considering the amazing cast). Plus, anyone who marries a co-star but still manages to play on-screen siblings convincingly is a pretty solid actor in my book.

Cemetery Man: Twisted. Funny. Classic

Slither: This film doesn't seem to get a lot of mentions as a Zombie Best Of. I suspect that has more to do with the subject matter and less to do with the quality of the movie. People tend to think of Slither more as an alien movie than a zombie movie. True, Slither does involve an alien parasite from outer space that possesses people with slithery slugs, but those slithery slugs turn people into scary space zombies. It counts.

28 Days Later: Danny Boyle's rage zombies are a perfect slap in the face for anyone who's ever claimed, "In case of an outbreak, I can just outrun them."

I Walked with a Zombie: This is one of the most influential horror movies of all time. Sadly, few have seen it.

Night of the Living Dead: Needs no description.

Zombieland: I saw Zombieland in the theater during its opening weekend, and it was some of the most fun I've had in a theater in ages. In addition to being a clever new riff on zombie movies, it was a completely engaging watch. Audience members laughed, jumped, clapped and cheered. And seriously, who wouldn't with that amazing cameo by........? Yeah, I'm not spoiling that for anyone.

Shaun of the Dead: Horror-comedy is a notoriously difficult genre. Though the success of Zombieland may suggest otherwise, these are some of the most difficult movies to make into a critical and commercial success. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do it beautifully. Plus, Shaun's mom is totally played by the Prime Minister from the new series of Doctor Who!

Dead Alive: Peter Jackson laughs in the face of my assertion that horror-comedy is difficult to do.

Dawn of the Dead (remake): When I first heard of director Zachary Snyder's (Watchmen, 300) remake of the George Romero classic Dawn of the Dead, I wasn't exactly pleased. The original is everything I want in a zombie movie, and I didn't understand why a director who's clearly such a Romero fan would want to mess with a classic. But after hearing that Sarah Polley Jake Weber had been cast, I had to admit that I was curious. Snyder's version doesn't disappoint. It stays true to the original in allegory and premise, but delights in adding fun new elements to the story, such as the famed Jay Leno zombie. The opening sequence with Sarah Polley's husband is about as traumatic as a zombie movie can get, and when she's later attacked in the mall by a zombie woman that she's trying to save, things really start falling to pieces. There are certainly flaws. I could have lived without the Not Without My Zombie Daughter sub-plot, but it's a device that was effective in turning survivors against one another, a must in this genre.

Dawn of the Dead (original): Again, no description necessary. This is George Romero's masterpiece.

World War Z: Though this is more of a movie list, I'd be hard-pressed to write a post about zombies without mentioning World War Z by Max Brooks. Sorry Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but Z takes the cake for the ultimate zombie novel. Rumors of a film adaptation have been swirling since the book's release. This movie could be epic, y'all

1 comment:

n8licious said...

Dead Alive is BY FAR one of my most favorite movies - and I don't say that lightly as someone who usually responds to the question "What's your favorite movie?" with something along the lines of "that is an impossible question." I fell in love with the kiwi-gore-slap-stick as a misguided teen, saving up money I'd earned as a library page in Faribault only to buy the not unrated film after biking to the local mall. As a bold fix, however, I rented the unrated film (again) from Mr. Movies (no longer open, which I also biked to) opened the head of the VHS and removed the security tag to swap copies. I feel somewhat bad for those in the Faribault community that missed out on the glorious unrated version, but still have that copy in my collection to this very day.