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Let’s Talk About Zombies
by Dan Greene
Well it’s been a few weeks since we talked about zombies here, hasn’t it? No it hasn’t. Hell, it probably hasn’t been 48 hours since somebody mentioned them around here. A lot of people at FTTW like some sweet zombie action, and I know you’re itching for it as much as I am. So let’s go.
Need a good zombie movie to watch this month? I’d feel bad if you had nothing, I really would…. Let’s see…. What do we have?
You seen the Italian Zombie (Zombi) series?
I mentioned the first and second of these movies a while back. Some people call Zombie (Zombi 2) a Dawn Of The Dead ripoff, and there is eveidnce to support that, but there’s definitely enough original action to call its own. And like I said, the action here is original. If it seems tired – and it doesn’t to me - it’s only because it’s been imitated so many times. I loved this movie, and all five of them did have their moments. Like any series I guess, they tend to decline the longer they go on, but that’s kind of like a zombie anyway, isn’t it? <
It can get a little confusing due to the different titles given to these movies in Europe and North America, so bear with me for a second. The first one, Zombi, is actually Dario Argento’s version of Dawn Of The Dead (I mentioned that last week, not sure if you were here for that). The second one, Zombi 2, was released in North America as Zombie. That’s the one with the underwater fight between a zombie and a shark – It’s worth renting it just for that, not to mention the nice little Italian titties they show just before the fight scene. Now that I think about it, the zombie warms up his underwater fighting skills by having a go at the topless scuba diver. Good times!
Zombi/Dawn Of The Dead
This movie is on my short list. My really fucking short list. Either version. It seems that George Romero had made quite a hit with Night Of The Living Dead, or rather, he made a hit for others. In another version of the same old story, he learned some hard lessons when he was young. He wanted a sequel but didn’t have the money. Then he got talking to Dario Argento, who had boatloads of cash from movies like Suspiria (yes, I’ll hit that later). They got together and made history with this one.
The Argento version has quite a few differences from the Romero version, some for the better and some for the worse. There’s a different feel to it altogether, and I’ve only seen it twice so far so I can’t really commit to liking one more than the other. It is shorter though, and that’s a negative. I don’t find that Romero’s movie to be very slow moving although others would claim just that; I find it’s pretty well paced overall. Argento’s movie just has a faster pace – and that’s a positive, depending on your mood. They both work well. All your favourites are there – the Hare Krishna, the ghetto fro bro who gets the first good kill, the priest in the basement with one of the best horror lines in history: “You are stronger than us. But soon… I think they be stronger than you”. If you like Dawn Of The Dead at all, then you really owe it to yourself to check this one out. If you’ve liked Dawn for a long time and have never seen the other version, kick yourself now, really fucking hard, and save yourself the trouble later. Then do what you know you must.
This is a movie that you don’t hear much about, and I’m not really sure why. It made a fair amount of money and was pretty successful internationally, it’s gory as hell, it’s got just about anything you’d look for in a zombie movie, but it’s not in every horror section of every video store and it should be. Fucking classic zombie action here. This gets played in my house at least once a month and I never get tired of it.
Zombie 3, 4, 5
Okay, by this time Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci had both pulled out of this beast. You can tell. All three of them have their moments, but they’re obviously hurting. Zombie 5 is mainly about evil zombie birds. Enough said. Even if it was good, come on, it’s a movie about dead birds. Zombie 4 has the coolest theme song ever created, however. The coolest. 4 is definitely my favourite of this group (3-5). Just watch the opening scene with witch doctors and dancing savages and teeth and blood. One guy groans really well as his life is taken… I swear, no matter how squeamish you are, you’ll laugh your ass off. It also has the tropical island setting, a very underrated zombie setting.
Don’t get me wrong, all five of these movies are worth watching if you are into zombies. Good for watching in the middle of the night. They’re just not all great. Perfect for staying up all night on Halloween with a stack of movies though. Besides, if you watch the first one and like it, you gotta watch the rest as a matter of principle. You’ve seen Jason Takes Manhattan, haven’t you? You’ve seen Leprechaun In The Hood, right? Right.
What else we got?
Well we got Return Of The Living Dead, parts one and two. Part one is the more popular and with good reason, it’s a classic, but number two is pretty funny too, not to mention icky.
The first one has a bunch of real 80’s punks. Just watch this movie and you’ll see yourself hanging out in the graveyard. Seriously. I know your nickname was Suicide back in the day. You know it’s not a costume, it’s a way of life. My favourite line in the movie: “What are ya gonna do… aaaaaaaahhhhhh!”
It’s a classic horror/comedy, and I really wish the list of horror/comedies was longer. There aren’t enough of them out there. There are lots that try but few can find the right balance between the two elements. And the worst part of it is that zombies make the best horror/comedy character of all. Nothing’s as funny as a zombie. Not vampires or werewolves or mummies or body snatchers or Blobs or nothing. Zombies are, for the most part, absolutely retarded. Their brains are rotten. So when they act like idiots it’s great. When they ask for more paramedics it’s out of character, so that’s great too.
Number two is based around a kid who is trying to avoid some bullies who become infected. One really cool thing about this movie is the reappearance of a lot of the actors from the first one. Not the same characters obviously, but the same actors. Even a line or two from the first one gets repeated in the second. If you have any respect for the first and you haven’t seen the second, then you know what you have to do. Watch for the carload of zombies cruising town and looking for brains.
One movie that gets mentioned a lot around here is Brain Dead, or DeadAlive. That was directed by Peter Jackson, the guy who’s done the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. He didn’t have as big of a special effect budget for this one, but. Trust. Me. If you haven’t seen this yet then you need to rent it and watch on an empty stomach. So fucking gross. You think that the dead lady eating her own ear is disgusting, but then you get to the lawnmower scene and you forget everything before that.
Here’s a weird zombie movie for you: Nightmare City. It was directed by Umberto Lenzi, who is most famous for movies like Eaten Alive and Cannibal Ferox (I’ll hit those later). The zombies in this movie are a bit different from what you’re used to. They run. They shoot automatic weapons at you. They hijack planes, apparently. This movie breaks a lot of rules; no regard for the standards is what makes this one so fun. Lots of unintentional laughs and a few good scenes, if you know what I mean.
And here’s a zombie movie to avoid unless you are the most dedicated fan of the genre, in which case you’ve already seen it: Hell Of The Living Dead, a.k.a. Virus. I don’t even know if there are any good scenes in this or not and I own the damn thing. I’m told that it’s an acceptable film if you can get past the long shots of aerial stock footage of the jungle, followed by aerial shots of the jungle, followed by stock footage of the jungle. I just haven’t been able to get past it yet.
So there it is, a few more movies to check out this month. There are a lot more zombie movies that I haven’t mentioned, so let us know what you like.
Contrary to popular belief, Dan is not among the undead. Though he secretly wishes he was.