Your sitting in your living room, watching basic cable television, as per your nightly routine. You have a loved one or pet curled up next to you on the couch. There is a noise outside; shambling, moaning. You ignore it. Must be some sort of vermin. A raccoon, maybe? Suddenly, there is a thumping outside your door. It starts off rather dull, but steady. The thumping turns into knocking turns into slamming. You wonder if your door can handle the strain. Your loved one or pet has run off. You shout for them, but the sound of moaning outside drown out your cries. You go to investigate the front door and almost puke everywhere when you find a pack of slime-coated, crusty, little ghouls – armed with an insatiable hunger. They yell out “trick or treat!” You give them some candy and return to the couch.
Halloween is in less than a week and you need to get into the mood! Deranged serial killers aside, not much says “Halloween” like zombies. There is a wealth of undead material out there waiting to pounce you, but there’s a lot of rotten stuff out there. You have less than 7 days, here is what you need to get your grubby hands on. It’s time to cram for Halloween.
Night of the Living Dead
Start with the classic. George Romero basically defined zombies as we know them. This movie was filmed in black and white in an age when color was the norm. Do you know what this means? It means the movie is deep. That is a science fact. If you want a plot synopsis, go to Wikipedia, I don’t feel like dealing with that. The story is a bit slow-paced, but so are the zombies. There is a lot of tension between the characters, which is only compiled when a few dozen corpses start pounding on the walls.
There really isn’t much to say about this that hasn’t been said a dozen times. It basically started the entire genre, go watch it. However, a reanimated corpse is only fun the first time around, so do not watch the 90’s remake.
28 Days Later
The zombie genre was dead and buried until 28 Days Later woke it back up. Danny Boyle reinvents the zombie for the new millennium, turning them from the cannibal equivalent of your grandparents to murderous, frothing track stars. Actually, let’s forget that there are even undead maniacs in this movie. The cinematography is beautiful, the music is great, the tone is spot on, you start to care for the characters, and it’s just a great movie that happens to have a zombie theme.
Dead Rising 2
You play as a guy. Who cares what his name is. No one, that’s who. You have to do a thing. I don’t know what it is. Whatever the thing is, it is in a place that is packed with zombies. I am talking about hundreds on screen, all of them want to eat you. How can you defend yourself? With everything. Use a broom to keep them at bay. Grab a pistol and go for some head shots. Take a shower faucet and jam into a rotting forehead. Not good enough for you? Grab an oar, tape a chainsaw on each end and run wild as a red goulash coats you. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you might be dead inside. More so than the zombies.
It began with a flash in the sky… the next thing you know the heroes of the Marvel Universe are infected and filled with the desire to eat flesh. The Marvel Zombies are a little different that your standard shamblers. Our heroes keep their intellect, superpowers, and personality; they are just driven by an overwhelming need to consume live flesh and to spread the Hunger Gospel. If the idea of a group of plotting, superpowered zombies doesn’t worry you, to make matters worse, they don’t die from a typical zombie decapitation.
There are several volumes of Marvel Zombies available, with varying storylines and varying quality. They all rely heavily on camp and humor, and are about as digestible as your brain is to Zombie Colonel America. The first series is a great introduction to the idea, but Marvel Zombies really peaks at Vol 3, when Machine Man is sent to the zombie world to basically kill everything ever. Marvel Zombies #5, the latest volume, stars Howard the Duck. So, it’s the worst thing ever.
Really, I just wanted an excuse to post a bunch of Marvel Zombie images.
In the UK, there was a 5 episode miniseries produced that was very well received. Dead Set is about the series Big Brother. This is the true story of a group of strangers picked to live in a house. What happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting eaten alive while screaming bloody murder.
This was a really well done series. It almost looks like it was lifted right out of the middle of 28 Days Later (that might just be England, though). The series is only 2.5 hours long, total, so it really feels more like an extended movie. I don’t know if there are any plans on bringing Dead Set to the US, but I really hope there are. If you can find this anywhere, I recommend watching it.
Oddly enough, there are not really many shows about zombies! You’d think someone would have tried this before. Thankfully, next week, someone is.
The Walking Dead
From AMC, the channel that brought us Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and has excellent quality television, we get The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead is directed by Frank Darabont, who brought us The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. The show premieres on Halloween and will have a 6 episode run. If the series does well, we’ll get a 2nd season. I can only hope it does (ahem, go watch it).
The show is based on Robert Kirkman’s comic series. I cannot stress how great it is. The artwork is in black and white and the line art is scratchy and rough, like it was drawn in haste. That isn’t to say that it looks bad, it really capture the exact feeling of loneliness and desperation that the character must feel. The story uses the zombies as props to move our characters from one situation and location to the next, but the real story is: what would happen if civilization failed? How would we survive?
All of the trailers and previews I seen so far have painted the show in a great light. Get excited. Now. NOW.
I’ve got my Jason mask on, I’m covered in red food dye and corn syrup, and I’m contemplating murdering my room mate. This is how I plan to spend the next week. But, these are merely a few suggestions to get into a hallowed spirit. While the clock is ticking down on All Hallow’s Eve, what else can we do to get into the mood?