Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zombies Flicks

So I could fill up a whole week of posts just about zombie films (and that would only just be covering the work of the legendary George A. Romero, Godfather of the zombie film genre).  I decided to just pick a small selection of my favourite zombie flicks from the past decade (as I'll be focused on contemporary zombie narratives in YA fiction), so onto the movies!

Dawn of the Dead
Director: Zach Synder
Screenwriter: James Gunn
Release Date: 2004
Distributor: Universal Studios
Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer

During a national zombie outbreak, a group of survivors take refuge in a suburban Milwaukee shopping mall. The group attempts getting the attention of rescuers without success and seem forced to adapt to life in the mall, with hordes of zombies desperate to get in. Whilst advertised as a remake of the 1977 Romero film of the same title, I feel this is more of a ‘re-imagining’ as characters, plot and even story elements vary (for one thing, the 2004 zombies are fast). I love this film – there is just the right mix of characters (a bad-arse cop, our nurse heroine, a douchebag with a yacht, a jack-of-all-trades romantic interest) and I like watching the dynamic between characters. One of my favourite sequences is actually totally zombie-free and is a montage set to lounge singer Richard Cheese’s cover of ‘Down With The Sickness’, which just depicts the survivors enjoying themselves, adapting to mall life and just living. These scenes provide the perfect balance between the action-packed, full-on, gorrific zombie-slaying. I will say this film is probably not for the squeamish (there’s a lot of blood and a scene with a baby which is kind of gross), but is amazingly well-shot and edited for a horror/zombie film (which come on, tend to have a B to Z grade reputation). Though depending on how you like your endings (hopeful versus truthful), be wary of the end credits.

28 Days Later
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriter: Alex Garland
Release Date: 2002
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston

Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakes naked and alone in a deserted hospital. After walking the abandoned streets of London, he discovers a virus has swept through Britain and the nation was supposed to have been evacuated. He encounters a handful of other survivors on his way back to his family home, and discovers that whilst he’s been in a coma, the virus has infected and killed millions, turning them into highly-contagious ‘Infected’ who are quick to attack. Whilst Danny Boyle has officially started this is not a ‘zombie movie’, I feel that 28 Days Later uses more than enough accepted zombie conventions that you can’t deny it’s connections to the zombie genre. Regardless of which way you stand on the zombie/its-a-virus divide, it’s an engaging film – more on the serious side and really explores the consequences of a societal breakdown. The first ten minutes of Cillian Murphy walking through the desolate streets of London, past familiar tourist attractions which are now completely abandoned are hauntingly beautiful and at the same time, incredibly creepy. Again, I really liked the more humanising scenes – like a group of survivors on a decadent shopping spree in an abandoned supermarket. Also, the DVD gives you multiple ending options (do you want hope? Reality? Complete pessimism?). Definitely thinking person’s zombie – or should I say, apocalyptic – film

Shaun of the Dead
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenwriters: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Release Date: 2004
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost & Kate Ashfield

Shaun is a bit of a no-hoper – he’s just been dumped and seems destined to be stuck in a dead-end retail job and living with his unemployed, obnoxious best friend, Ed. That is until he must face a zombie uprising, and attempt to lead his family and friends to the safety of his local pub. Shaun is the everyman, a bit dumb (I mean, it takes him something like a whole half-hour to realise everyone around him is zombified) but full of heart, and Ed provides plenty of gags as the crude side-kick. They have no zombie-hunting qualifications except for video-game skills and still manage to take on a zombie army. Shaun of the Dead is fantastic because it not only plays homage to numerous zombies movies for the film buff viewer, but still manages to be fresh, funny and probably has the most commercial appeal of any contemporary zombie-themed film (up until the release of Zombieland last year). Even non-zombie-fans will surely enjoy this fast-paced comedy, full of visual gags and cracking one-liners.

What are your favourite zombie films?


lost.in.stories said...

I love Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are geniuses, so funny. One of my favourite scenes is when they are chucking his albums at a zombie and they're arguing about which albums they should chuck.

Nomes (inkcrush) said...

nice picks. I recently watched Carriers - which I thought was going to be zombie-ish but actually wasn't, but I still loved it anyway :)

I like all the Resident Evil movies :0

Oh - and I Am legend = brilliance :)

Girl Friday said...

I love that bit too! "the Batman soundtrack? Throw it"

Girl Friday said...

Nomes - I haven't seen the Resident Evil films even though my brother owns them all - I'll have to check them out as I used to be a fan of the Resident Evil playstation game back in the day haha

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