Zombies! Originally an ancient, West African, spell-bound state, where a dead human is revived and their body is controlled by a sorcerer. However, since then many aspects of the zombie have changed. I’m pretty sure that’s not your definition of a zombie. Films involving zombies used to be a niche genre in horror movies, however as the years have dropped by, the zombie genre has sprung to life into its own unique genre. This is obvious in our generation; you would be lying if you haven’t considered a plan for a zombie apocalypse. And let’s be fair, if the world does end in 2012, a zombie attack would be one of the fun ways to go. Anyway, without further ado, I’m going to explore the best zombie films ever made, and maybe the not so good, whilst looking at the differences between films of these flesh-eating creeps!
It seems fairly obvious to me that we are in the day and age where zombie films have done nearly everything you can do with a film. Therefore directors and filmmakers alike are searching for new concepts to reignite the audiences fear and anticipation for a zombie flick. Many have portrayed zombies in different ways, using different rules and concepts of the undead, deadites or living dead. George A. Romero, the mastermind director to the dead series consisting of 6 films, had a certain set of rules for his zombies in his original trilogy. These consisted of humans’ transformation into zombies, regardless of their death, be it by zombie or not. Along with this, Romero stayed with the concept of walking zombies, being slow and unresponsive, as the dead would be.
Romero coined one of the earliest and most successful zombie thrillers, Night of the Living Dead. Released in 1968 and then remade in 1990, Night of the Living Dead nowadays may look a bit silly, with actors caked in white makeup to look dead. However, Romero conjured up a film that genuinely scared people. The scenes showing the dead munching on human remains I can imagine would be stomach churning in the late sixties. I personally saw the nineties version a few years ago and found that even though the zombies weren’t particularly terrifying, the storyline and smaller plotlines were actually good for a gore film. Complex characters and relationships were clearly visible, along with the scare of the sheer mass of zombies. I can see why this film was so successful.
After the night comes dawn. George Romero followed on his widely successful first with Dawn of the Dead (1978) which was again remade in 2004, but with no input from the original director. I loved the concept behind this movie, keeping the survivors in a shopping mall and again, as Romero does so well, showing the relationships between the people in their time of huge need. The apocalypse is on them, certain personalities get involved in team work and others take the every-man-for-himself approach. However, the characters are even still more complex than this; some are sinister enough to use the others in order to survive but know really that their main priority is for themselves.
The remake of this film was truly my favourite zombie flick in my teen years, the decision to take zombies to a new level by allowing them to run and scrapping most of Romero’s rules was a bold one on Zack Snyder’s (300 and Watchmen) part. Along with the parallel stories, the zombie chase scenes are no less than epically exciting. I sat on the edge of my seat moving my own legs, hoping that the character managed to survive that little bit longer. As mentioned previously, Romero has coined six zombie films in his Dead series. Following on from the dawn was Day of the Dead (1985). For the third consecutive movie this was again remade in 2008, although it had fallen a bit flat compared to the original.
Day of the Dead adds a new dimension to the zombie, showing that they may be able to evolve from a usual animal instinct state to learn like a human again. This is an interesting approach, and even though I did enjoy the film, I believe this aspect let it down slightly. The zombie eating scenes were as gruesome as ever, but between the final scenes of zombie madness there was little to offer. Unfortunately, I would only give it an iHartMovies rating of 2.8 out of 5. I am going to cut short most of my reviews of Romero’s later films purely because, to me, they did not do the man justice.
Land of the Dead (2005) in my opinion was Romero’s worse piece and by far the worse zombie film I have ever seen. Again, the notion of the zombies evolving is set, as we see communication between the apparent brainless beasts and even to the point that they can use guns! This to me, takes away the whole idea of the zombie. They are meant to be ex-humans who have lost all human behaviour, stripped down to the bare essentials of the living, showing pure necessity for food, in this case, human meat. Taking away this concept leads to a pointless zombie film, along with the amateur storylines. I cannot help but think Romero should have left it at a trilogy rather than more. Anyway, now I’m done with Romero and remakes I now want to check out the real dead setters in our top zombie films – check out part 2, which will be published shortly.
By Ash Seward-Morris
- Zombiemania (thewritingdead.wordpress.com)
- Feature: Is 28 Days Later a Zombie Movie? (trioxin.wordpress.com)
- Clip from George Romero’s DEADTIME STORIES is funny and gory! (geektyrant.com)
- Cuba’s first-ever zombie/horror film, “Juan of the Dead” (boingboing.net)
Insidious, was the one film I was craving to watch this year since seeing its creepy trailer and hearing its wide speculation. From director James Wan, who mastered the Saw series along with many other horror films, and writer Leigh Whannell, who again wrote and starred in the Saw films, any horror enthusiast would be dying, excuse the pun, to see this film.
The film tells the story of a couple, Patrick Wilson (Watchmen and Phantom of the Opera) and Rose Byrne (X-men: First Class and Troy), who are plagued by demons, ghosts and other strange supernatural entities, after their son falls into an unexpected coma. The story takes some mad twists and comes to a conclusion using a phenomenon I genuinely did not expect. At first, this turn in the story made me question the plot line, until after having watched the film, when I realised that this is a widely discussed phenomenon that causes massive speculation; a friend and I spoke about it for hours. The film finishes in dramatic fashion, really pushing the audience to the edge of their seats, along with the famous twists that Whannell is famous for.
When the film started I was a bit skeptic; the opening scenes drag on a while and use vintage graphics. However, in my opinion, this film did offer more than most horror films of today. I do not jump or scare easily when it comes to movies, yet this film did have me off my seat more than once. Clever camera angles and musical scores allowed comfort zones that when the surprise comes, it hits you twice as hard. This film really had me on the edge of my seat for many scenes, in the anticipation of another moment for my heart to race. However, at certain points I felt the director could have done so much more, or even less with. I found one particular scene, which put a bit of a silly twist on to the most known demon. This didn’t only mock the mysterious, and therefore scary, figure, but allowed me to be over familiar with it, leading me to be less scared of its presence.
This disappointment didn’t sway me off the film too much though. Wan and Whannell have done particularly well at making a jumpy film, which leads people to really enjoy the movie. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie as an experience so much, that I watched it twice at the cinemas. As much as I enjoyed the film, I cannot help but think that I would not have the same experience watching the film on my own television than on the big screen. Fair enough, if you have a big tv and a decent surround sound system, but I believe this would be needed to actually enjoy the film.
Maybe I am wrong, and I do truly hope I am, as I think this film deserves more credit than a lot of people give it. Insidious is, to me, one of the best horror films of the last couple of years. I would recommend anyone to go see this movie, especially people who love to be startled, or want to see a peer or partner leap out of their skin. I do think that some scenes ruined the film a bit, however not enough for me to forget the genius work towards the beginning. Lets just hope the makers do not create a ruined sequel which they are infamous for.
iHartMovies rating 4 out of 5.
By Ash Seward-Morris
- Movie Review | Insidious (popspoken.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review: Insidious (2011) (pacejmiller.wordpress.com)
- Insidious (via TheFilmLounge) (calculable.org)