Return of the Dead – Zombies
I watched zombie movies when I was younger but it wasn’t until I grew a little older that my love for zombie movies really blossomed. It started innocuously enough. My brother bought Resident Evil the video game for the PS. He assured me that it was a really cool game, but it wasn’t really cool. It was AWESOME. It was like exploring a haunted house. And it was scary. I screamed and jumped, was killed by zombies (dogs, crows, and humans) and by Umbrella’s nefarious genetic experiments. From there, I went on to play Resident Evil 2 and loved exploring Raccoon City as both Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy. Which naturally led to Resident Evil 3. So I had some familiarity of that world when the movie Resident Evil came out.
Resident Evil (2002). I do remember complaining that the mansion looked nothing like the grandiose edifice of the video game and was sorely disappointed that Jill Valentine was absent. Putting that aside, I enjoyed this movie from the first. Intensely creepy in many places, it also proved to be a sort of mystery as the main character, Alice, had lost her memory at the movie’s start. We don’t know much about her and are discovering the secrets of Umbrella’s Hive along with her. I still find the Red Queen very creepy, especially when she utters the line (and personally one of my favorite lines from the movie) “You’re all going to die down here.” I have enjoyed all the movies of this series. But the first is my favorite and, in my personal opinion, the scariest.
Night of the Living Dead (1968). I did not see this movie until three years ago and regret not having seen it sooner since it is a classic. I think that the strongest scenes are both at the beginning and at the end. It starts out with siblings, Barbara and Johnny, visiting their father’s grave. It isn’t until after the cross is placed on the grave that Johnny starts reminiscing about the past, and he says that Barbara had always been afraid of the cemetery. Out of a fit of playfulness, Johnny starts teasing Barbara. Shuffling behind them is a solitary man, which when Johnny spies him he says to his sister: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara. Look here comes one now.” She attempts to talk to the gentleman when she is attacked. Johnny comes to her rescue but loses his own life. The rest of the movie centers around the house Barbara escapes to, and she is joined by another zombie refugee, Ben. This is a great movie, and I recommend watching it at least once. I am not going to give away the ending for those of you who might not have seen it.
Zombieland (2009). A horror comedy. This movie concerns the world after a person who was infected with Mad Cow Disease and goes on to infect others and starts a zombie apocalypse. This is very much a journey type story. Each character is looking for something. Columbus is going home, worried about his parents. Tallahassee is on his own quest, he makes killing zombies his personal mission and he is searching for the last Twinkie. They encounter Wichita and Little Rock. The sisters had a history of conning their way through life. Eventually, the quartet travel together to go to Pacific Playland, a theme park. On this odyssey, they quarrel, and have fun, destroy a store and meet Bill Murray. Wichita and Little Rock leave to go to Pacific Playland, without Tallahassee and Columbus, which leads to a fight for survival. It is a great movie, both comical and horrific (I can so understand Columbus’s fear of clowns) and heart-warming in its own way. I recommend this movie for those who don’t like the more serious zombie movies and for those love zombie movies in any fashion.
Shaun of the Dead (2004). Another zombie comedy, this one a part of the Cornetto Trilogy by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. This movie is about a handful of survivors as the zombie apocalypse is happening. The plan is to hole up at Shaun and Ed’s favorite pub with Shaun’s ex-girlfriend and her best friends, and Shaun’s parents. There are tons of inside jokes, which can be found as a bonus material on the DVD. Interesting bits of trivia pop up while watching the movie. Shaun’s boss, who is absent, is named Ash after the character from the Evil Dead series. Most of the music has some sort of “dead” or “zombie” theme. One of my favorite scenes takes place in the pub when the jukebox starts playing Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and a synchronized fight ensues. If you enjoyed Zombieland, you might enjoy this movie too.
The Serpent and the Rainbow(1988). This is a very interesting movie since it concerns the zombie origins in the actual world. It is based on loosely on the non-fiction book of the same name by Wade Davis, a ethnobotanist. The movie centers on the search for a drug that a pharmaceutical company wants to use as an anesthetic. While seemingly based on fact, it does touch on supernatural elements. I have only seen it just the once but I was very impressed with it. I remember wanting to see it when I was younger and had asked my mom who had seen it if it was something that I’d like. She didn’t think I would have since it was a huge departure from what I usually enjoyed. She was right, though. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it then, not when I was such a glutton for gore and special effects, and the obvious scare. Now that I am older, I find that my tastes have matured as well. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the movies I once did in all their gory glory (although not as much as I used to, I must admit), it means that I have a bit of a broader sense of what is scary.
Other favorite zombie movies: Dawn of the Dead (2004), Pet Sematary (1989), Army of Darkness (1992)