Why are we so obsessed with zombies?
Zombies are a phenomenon. We just can’t get enough of the living dead and all that juicy brain eating. The concept of the zombie has changed over the years however, from a mindless slave controlled by a master, to violent flesh-eating monsters and even intelligent (flesh-eating monsters).
But where does this fascination of bringing back the dead come from?
Perhaps one of the very first forays into what we now know as the modern zombie was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Her reincarnation was a violent, physically mutated being bent on vengeance, and it has had a major influence on storytellers and their interpretation of what “dead on earth” could be like ever since.
It wasn’t until 1968 however, that the modern day zombies we have come to know and love really came to life. The Night of the Living Dead inspired a new generation of horror films, and a new cult icon was born – the zombie.
Thanks to shows like The Walking Dead, iZombie and the many films that hit our screens every year, zombies are very much a major part of our culture today, but how has Hollywood’s interpretation of the zombie changed over the years?
Night of the Living Dead
Director: George A. Romero
The film that started it all, and has since been copied, parodied and remade until the cows come home. While the living dead are never directly referred to as zombies in the film (they are called ghouls) this was the beginning of the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ as we know it today. The film actually used the zombies as a critique aimed at the social ills of the time.
Fun Fact: Chocolate syrup was used to simulate blood, and human flesh was ham. The actors were therefore eating chocolate coated ham, a combination which will make anyone turn a little pale after a while…
Dawn of the Living Dead
Director: George A. Romero
10 years after creating the genre, Romero returned to make what many consider the best zombie film ever made. It portrays the slow, plodding inevitability of mankind’s extinction. The film once again serves as a critque at modern society, and the consumerism of our culture as the battle for survival takes place in a location that was so important to both the living and the dead: the shopping mall. Ultra-violence, detailed flesh-eating and social tensions make it a film that can’t be missed, but don’t watch it while having dinner…
Fun Fact: Some of the cast became physically sick by the makeup work.
Shaun of the Dead
Director: Edgar Wright
The world had been treated to plenty of RomComs, a number of ZomComs, but 2004’s Shaun of the Dead brought a new genre to the fray. The RomZomCom. Hilarious and ridiculously gory in equal amounts, the film breathed new life into a dying genre.
Fun Fact: George A. Romero, creator of the films that this movie pays homage to and lampoons, was so impressed with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s work that he asked them to appear in Land of the Dead (2005), the fourth part of his Dead series, in cameos as zombies.
House of the Dead
Director: Uwe Boll
The zombie genre has delivered some great films over the years, but also a huge pile of garbage along the way as well, so picking one film to represent the worst the genre has to offer wasn’t easy. But when it comes to bad films, legendary bad film-maker Uwe Boll is never far from the top of the list. House of the Dead is easily one of the worst zombie films ever made. Oh, and if there was a category for worst trailer, then this little gem would be way up there with the best of the worst as well.
Fun Fact: Reviews were so bad that Danish cinemas refused to buy it.
Director: Paul W. S Anderson
The Fast and the Furious of zombie franchises. Who knew Alice would survive long enough to go all-in once again in 2017 for the 6th film in the series? The first installment back in 2002 took advantage of the fame and reputation of the much-loved games, and turned the zombie genre into an action free-for-all with very little shock value, apart from that kick-ass laser scene.
Fun Fact: The studio initially hoped to be able to make this film PG-13.
The Evil Dead
Director: Sam Raimi
There is an on-going debate as to whether this is a zombie movie or not. Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead doesn’t feature the classic zombies we have grown to love, but it does deal with coming back from the dead. It is not only a great zombie movie, but one of the greatest horror films ever made.
Fun Fact: At the end of a ‘normal’ day of shooting, Bruce Campbell would return home in the back of a pickup truck because he was covered in fake blood from head to toe.