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.
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
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?