What Is The Best Zombie Film? Part 3Posted: July 30, 2011
Well if you’re reading this I thank you for coming this far and reading my view of the best zombie films to have hit our big screens. One common occurrence between zombie film followers is obvious thought on future films. The evolution from the first original zombie film, thought to be White Zombie, directed by Victor Halperin in 1932, has been dramatic. This is not particularly noticed unless you have researched or are just a big fan of the living dead; however the transformation from what us, as a modern generation recognise as a zombie compared to back then is phenomenal.
Earlier zombie flicks saw the source of the change from human to zombie, usually done through black magic or some kind of sorcerer, as where the original term of zombie came from. However, over the years this has changed to bites off of mutant animals (Braindead) to viral infections that are spread in different ways. Almost every zombie movie needs to have a spreading virus through bites; however other rules are slightly different. For example Dawn of The Dead (2004); an open wound caused by a zombie was enough for the individual to reanimate into the walking dead. As discussed previously, Night of the Living Dead had a more spiritual, and confusing, conversion where any kind of death leads down the path of becoming a human chomper.
So my next film uses both the modern running zombies along with the viral infection that starts it all, in this case known as the Rage virus. Yes you have guessed it, 28 Days Later used real fear factor along with realistic issues in such an apocalypse. Little moments in this film may have seemed boring to some; however Danny Boyle’s direction expressed complications that would arise, such as shaving or emptying your bowels when there is no working water or toilet facilities. The story follows Jim, played by Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Red Eye), a seemingly average Joe who wakes up from a coma to find himself in a completely deserted World. Again, this film really captures some realistic scenes, in an apocalyptic world, that really makes this picture a vivid one.
Jim’s first walk out into the newly dead United Kingdom is a truly incredible sight to be seen; Jim walking down a clear motorway, it’s almost an oxymoron. I admit there isn’t a huge amount of zombie feeding frenzy scenes, however the chase scenes really get you on the edge of your seat; you may just fall off. We are also exposed to the army’s false promises and sexual brutality towards the women of the group. These may be controversial but are extremely real issues that I believe would arise from such a situation. Due to this, people may argue it is not the best zombie film around; we all crave gore scenes, however it is a brilliant film on its own.
As with most films that hit success, a sequel to the 2002 hit followed in 2007. The director was changed to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo but maintained its location in London. My favourite bit to the whole film is literally the opening scenes. We see yet another controversial but real situation of a husband having to choose between saving his family which would most probably lead to a certain death, or technically not, or following the every man for himself philosophy. This is followed by an intense scene of a mass of the living dead at full sprint speed. I felt this was a good film; I won’t lie, I did enjoy it, however there seemed to be something missing. I genuinely cannot put my finger on it, maybe it’s because it followed such a film in 28 days; however I must emphasise it was definitely worth a watch.
This next film I will keep brief as I feel inclined not to comment too much for a few reasons; I was falling asleep as I watched it, it is/was subtitled, and I have only seen one out of the trilogy. Rec is a Spanish zombie thriller shot from a television reporter in a confined building where the outbreak of a virus incurs. That very brief description sounds like this film has the key ingredients towards a blockbuster, or even a brain-buster? Many of you may have seen the apparent remake of the film, known as Quarantine, and as the US title exclaims, I love the concept of being trapped in a single building whilst creeps are trying to bite you. There are some good aspects of this film, certain scenes are admirable and the shaky camera adds to the effect. I just feel more could have been done with both films. There is a superb scenario, however it just seems that Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, co-directors and writers, ran out of ideas.
I had a think back before writing this post, to the last zombie film I actually viewed at the cinema. Again, this film has a slightly different take on zombies, in fact I would not be surprised if many of you didn’t consider them to be zombies. The Crazies, is another George A. Romero classic, 1973; however I have only seen the remake in 2010. Starring Timothy Olyphant as our sheriff David, the explanation behind these zombies was a biological weapon which is accidentally released onto a small town. Again, I am satisfied that Romero allowed for a cause for the outbreak, unlike Dawn of the Dead (2004). The biological weapon is still a virus, however the infected are rather different to our classic zombie. Flesh eaters are the wrong term in this case, however our zombies are more homicidal in different manners, such as burning houses with their own families in.
As stated previously, many viewers may not count these as zombies; however what’s not to say they are a more evolved species of our close carnivorous cousins? There has been a change in zombies throughout the years, so why can’t we say this will be the way that they go. I did enjoy the film however as I say with so many other films, I feel that a lot more could have been done. A lot more scare scenes whilst keeping the balance of the ever-changing relationships between characters. Am I really asking too much? There are some gripping scenes in the film and I would recommend a watch, however I will cut short the rest of my review purely for the fans who want something closer to what we all know and love as our zombie.
To be completely honest, my favourite kind of zombie are the ones found in 28 Days Later or the modernised Dawn of The Dead, therefore the runners. Running zombies means chase scenes. Chase scenes lead to high adrenaline rush, that is what people want from a film, especially under this genre. Feeling that emotion of screaming at the television to try to offer a hand of help to escape is what brings a movie to life. These moments are a factor into helping a zombie film hit the jackpot. So to wrap up my review I will finish on a well thought out zombie thriller that was released recently, however not as a film.
Dead Set is a five episode television series written by pessimistic comedian Charlie Brooker. I actually don’t find Brooker funny, more like a worse version of Jack Dee. However, this BAFTA nominated series was brilliant in many ways. The original series released in 2008 really got me excited and I maintained that I watch it every night for five nights running. The story is set in the Big Brother house, where the contestants of the recent series take refuge from the outbreak on the London streets. There is small wit added into the carnage of this action-packed and quite frankly, drama-packed series. We see frayed relationships and different personalities emerge, and eaten, throughout each episode, which adds to the realism of such a situation.
I feel like this was really a surprising phenomenon. The series is one of the best zombie franchises I have seen. Conflict is given to the characters, whether to save others or be selfish to ensure survival, which is always controversial but is an actual choice in so many situations. It’s one of those times in life that someone may say what they would do given that choice, however we all know that they don’t even know what they would do. Again, this series plays with the viewer’s emotions from heart-racing chase scenes to anger towards certain characters and even to sadness at the loss of others. To top it all off, Brooker finishes his story in such an emotional fashion unlike so many other zombie masterpieces.
If you haven’t seen it already I would definitely make sure you do. Channel 4 publicised this series a decent amount before its release and therefore really helped promote the zombie genre. However, with this brilliant series I will bring my writing to a close. I foremost would like to apologise if there are any films that you consider to be top end of the genre and missed in my three-part write-up, however I would love to see more titles so please inform me so I can give them a watch.
Overall I do not think I can answer what is officially the best zombie film of all time; we love each film for different reasons. There are so many terrific, gory, heart in mouth moments in each film I have mentioned, with the odd humour to break the surface. All I can really say is that let’s all hope that more films are made to satisfy the fans of this long going genre, and that the evolution goes in a satisfying direction. Thank you for reading and stay safe; always know your zombie plan.
By Ash Seward-Morris
- What is the Best Zombie film? Part 2 (moviehart.wordpress.com)
- What Is The Best Zombie Film Of All Time? Part 1 (moviehart.wordpress.com)
- Cuba’s first-ever zombie/horror film, “Juan of the Dead” (boingboing.net)