Friday, July 23, 2010

Zombie Apocalypse

Of all the various stories made for the horror movie genre, zombies are my favorite. When 28 Days Later created the "fast zombie," the highly kinetic infected that stood George Romero's lumbering undead on its head, I was really hooked. 28 Weeks Later was something of a let down, but I savored it nonetheless.

That's why when I read on Johnny Thunder's Midnite Spook Frolic that Brad Pitt was finally moving forward on World War Z , possibly as soon as 2012, I got pretty excited. For those that don't know, World War Z is a post-apocalyptic vision of the world that looks back through a series of interviews with those who lived through, the Great Zombie War. Although I would have liked it a lot more had it been written as a narrative, rather than in interview style, it was still a well-written tome. Seeing it on the Big Screen -- the Battle of Yonkers ought to be awesome! -- should be a worthy addition to the genre.

Having mentioned Romero, though, I'd like to say that the guy's career is over. Or should be. Has he made a worthwhile zombie movie in years? As a matter of fact, have any of his zombie movies since Night of the Living Dead really been worthwhile. I thought Dawn of the Dead was great -- but that was the Zach Snyder version, not Romero's, so no, Romero hasn't made a decent film in ages. And now that he laces them all with ridiculous political messages, they're just more of a mess.

But it's not just Romero, as most zombie movies suck, though I blame him for their proliferation. I think many directors simply followed his lead. While the fast-zombie has gained traction, and I've liked a lot of the films featuring them, I could easily accept slow-zombies again if the director treated the subject with respect. All too often it's a slap-dash effort, throw in a few heavily made-up actors groaning "braaaaains!" and they think they've got the right to charge $10 for a ticket.

It's why I'm hopeful a new book I'm reading will make it to the big screen one day. "Feed," by Mira Grant, is another living-with-zombies tale, but uses the popularity of blogging to relate it to today. As I noted on Johnny Thunder's site, it's reminiscent of when the Internet exploded in popularity in the early 1990's and one of the first movies rushed out to capture the zeitgeist was Sandra Bullock's "The Net." A horrible movie, but it did make $50 million.

Feed follows the travails of three bloggers assigned to follow a presidential campaign in the aftermath of the world's decimation following The Rising. It's told in narrative form, as I wish World War Z was, and Grant even gives us shambling zombies. So I'm not a fast-zombie snob.

If more writers and directors take the genre seriously, however, we can build upon the literature already out there, for good or ill, and have works that are worth reading and watching.


  1. I agree with you that I'm a little apprehensive about a film version of WWZ- I'm really hoping they don't screw it up.

  2. JT,

    I'm not exactly sure what Brad Pitt's "zombie credentials" are -- though his headless girlfriend in Se7en maybe gives him some insight -- but he should at least be able to bring some good production values to the project. The key, of course, is finding a good writer and director.



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