Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Don't ya hate it...


...when the masses co-opt something that you've liked for ages, way back before whatever it is was popular? I liked unicorns before you could buy 'em on every street corner (damn you, unicorn pushers!). My sister dressed in second-hand military garb, cargo pants, khakis, before Banana Republic made them chic.

And now...zombies?

I mean, really. Vampires, fine. Ann Rice made them vogue with her 'I'm beautiful and trapped between two worlds' interpretation of the vampire myth. Eurotrash vampires still stalk through the horror shelves at bookstores, films at all budget levels, and the imaginations of Goths everywhere. But...zombies? I mean, everyone and their mother is making zombie movies these days. Bad zombie movies. Well, mostly bad.

I'm sorry, but I was a George Romero fan back in the day. We're talking DAWN OF THE DEAD, the original release in 1979 (possibly 1980, I'm too old to remember these things clearly), my first date movie ever. I ditched classes in high school to go see it a few times at the Clairemont Theater with Mo. I awaited DAY OF THE DEAD eagerly. Saw Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE at the theater, along with the sequel GATES OF HELL (also known as CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD). Hunted down every bad foreign zombie movie in existence, including NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, where the flesh munching action is interspersed with nature documentary footage (how African elephants got to New Guinea, where the story takes place, is a mystery greater than the origin of the zombie plague) and SWAT team mercernaries in tutus. Gotta love it. Or not, depending on your love for zombies and bad movies.

Then there's FROM BEYOND (Lucio Fulci again with an incomprehensible storyline about seven gates to hell and carnivorous spiders that make clicking noises when they crawl -- ADR crime!), ZOMBIE 3 (again Fulci, in an attempt to cash in on RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH, which has ninja zombies in pajamas...and don't forget CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, which has the worst wardrobe in cinema history and some of the finest over-acting I've ever seen. And if you know me, you'll know that by 'finest', I mean so bad it's good. SHOWGIRLS bad. Dana heaven.

Now when you think about the number of horror movies, especially slasher type moves like FRIDAY THE 13Th et al, there really weren't a lot of zombie movies to choose from. But I found them, as well as any stories or novels featuring my beloved flesh-eating ghouls as well. And there were others like me, including the creator of www.homepageofthedead.com, probably the best and most comprehensive page on George Romero's movies (and all things zombie) out there. But...we were part of a small, select club. Zombies hadn't made their way into popular culture. Hollywood wasn't interested in making zombie movies on any budget level.

Then 28 DAYS LATER came along. After that, the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Now I loved 28 DAYS LATER. And I liked the first 10 minutes of the remake of DOTD. But dammit, what the hell is this with fast zombies? Sorry, they're just not as scary as the slow, shambling, yet inexorable slow moving zombies. I don't want my zombies sprinting or doing kung-fu kicks (ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH, you suck!). I want 'em lurching, shambling, stumbling...and never, ever stopping unless they're shot in the head. 'Cause that's what makes them scary.

Anyway, I digress. There has since been the RESIDENT EVIL movies (points for shambling zombies, but where the hell is the blood?) and...well...I hesitate to type this lest my computer burst into blasphemous flames, but there's also HOUSE OF THE DEAD, which is the worst piece of shit I've seen in my life. And now HOUSE OF THE DEAD II, which is bad on many levels (isn't there another way to denote military characters without the presence of a snare drum soundtrack following them around?), but art compared to Uwe Boll's directorial fiasco with the first HOTD movie. There's THE DEAD NEXT DOOR (bad!), LAND OF THE DEAD (George Romero, so I'll forgive the zombie equivalent of yelling 'NOOOOOOOO!'), DEAD MEAT (an Irish zombie movie which was actually a hoot), ALL SOUL'S DAY (kill me now before making me watch that again), JUNK (a Japanese entry in the genre), and...well, lots more.

On one hand, I'm delighted that there are so many movies (and now books) featuring my favorite monster. And yet...and yet...now EVERYone likes zombies! It's just like unicorns, dammit. I'm not part of an elite (kind of sick) group any more.

Oh well. I know that I was on the crest of that first flesh eating zombie fan wave. I guess that'll have to be enough.

3 Comments:

  • At 9:28 AM, Blogger Dave Fitzgerald said…

    Why, in my day, Zombies were slow and implacable; and that's how we liked it! Men wore hats, and kids respected their elders, too.
    -D

     
  • At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I thought "Land of the Dead" said more about race/class then the hideously evil "Crash." Plus, in the "Dawn" remake -- the fast-moving Zombies scared Me, as I am I incredibly out of shape. (Evil Willow)

     
  • At 8:06 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    I thnk there's definitely a scary aspect to the fast moving ones, but there's something even scarier to me about those slow, shambling, gonna get you no matter what 'cause they'll just keep coming type of zombies...

    Didn't see CRASH, but LAND OF THE DEAD was definitely commenting on class as much as fleshing eating zombies.

     

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