It really is aggravating. I like zombie movies, well in truth I like the “idea” of zombie movies. Let me explain. My expectations for a great zombie movie are…well I expect there to be an outbreak, I expect the first victims to die a pretty gruesome death, I expect every who can to run, hide, survive and ultimately fight off the hordes breaking in to their hiding spot. In the end, I expect most, if not all, will not survive. The remake of Dawn of the Dead delivered and that is why it is my favorite. And yet I continue to watch every one that comes out with just some hope that they “do it right.” Granted Zombie Land was close but too much humor and that other one with Simon Baker was okay.
So why am I always so disappointed?
Because some filmmaker decides, he has to be unique. In case you don’t know a Zombie movie is an allegory of the violence and or mindlessness of the human species. I know that’s rough and it’s not my opinion (mostly) but there it is. Now, that being said do you, Mr. Filmmaker, really need to introduce the “surviving” humans as the “real” bad guys? (See 28 days, 28 days later, and all the rest.)
And that is my complaint. This attitude of “I need to do something different. I know I’ll make the zombie outbreak and the end of the world, pale in comparison to the atrocities of humans.” So what we wind up with is, instead of a great zombie movie, is a movie that is just a rip off of the Deliverance, with zombies as a back drop instead of Georgia. Boring, predictable and not what I signed on to see.
The problem with these filmmakers is exactly the same problem I have with poetry.
I don’t understand how poetry works and I’m not smart enough to be good at it. I know that in poetry there are rules and mechanics behind it that makes it more than a rhyme. I have read my share of Blake, Keats, Coleridge, and others so I can see it on the page, but I am not smart enough to break the code. My poems are just stories where each sentence ends in a word that will rhyme with the ending of the next.
Zombie filmmakers don’t realize they suffer the same.
They think it is simple, but because they don’t understand that the zombie is already an allegory of humans masses…they add the human violence…redundant and pointless. I am not certain, but I don’t think Ode on a Grecian Urn (Keats) was really about the Urn…I would have called it a vase (see I don’t get it)
Here is my advice.
Think of the zombie genre like poetry. There is a formula, it looks simple, but it is not, if you can’t pull it off then don’t do it. It’s okay to have a few jackass survivors hanging around…just make sure the zombies kill them. Remember the movie is about the zombies, they already represent something; don’t add that thing in a second time.
If I were smart enough I would make every one of my stories a poem. It is using the smallest word count to convey your mood and idea. (Of course, the number of people smart enough to write poetry still vastly outnumbers those able to understand it) But I’m not, so I have to use at least three thousand words to convey my meaning. My point is do not use the “simple zombie” idea to convey your “oh so unique opinion” that humans are actually worse than zombie…there not, most humans will never dine on your innards…when you do, it just demonstrates that you don’t really understand the zombie genre…and it pisses me off.
Oh there is one small zombie quality I am on the fence on…is the movie better if they can run or does that detract from the genre?
I am going to grade zombie movies in a post on horror films…feel free to email me your choices.