It’s a plain and simple fact – I love zombie movies. If there’s one genre above all others that I can enjoy time and time again (aside from Super Troopers – which... isn’t a genre), it’s the damn zombie genre.
I suppose it’s the idea of an entire group of people, or an entire population, being infected by this zombie virus. Then you have the un-infected, “I will survive,” humans who are constantly on the run from the un-dead. Some times these humans are escaping the latest outbreak, other times they’re attempting to re-build society by containing the virus. In any case, something goes wrong and soon zombies are everywhere.
Being as it is that I’m a frequent viewer of bad movies, I feel that I have a good sense of what is good and what isn’t (you see, that’s the goal of BMN... to see so many bad movies that you enhance your crap-movie senses, allowing you to truly enjoy a good film and all of the hard work that goes into making it). And being that I’m a big fan of zombie movies (see reason #9), I think that I can easily say what is, or isn’t, a decent zombie movie.
The zombie movie genre, at it’s root, is about survival (David vs. Goliath, few vs. many, Where there’s a will... kind of stuff). It’s not about creating a franchise of zombie characters. A zombie, is a zombie, is a zombie. Once they’re infected, they’re all the same.
And the one thing that all zombies have in common, the ONE thing that keeps them motivated above all else, is feasting on the living’s flesh and blood. Zombies can’t think. Zombies can’t reason. The need to feed is ingrained in their DNA and as long as their body can respond to movement, then they will try to eat the living. There’s no idea of higher importance, no notions of world domination (they’re not trying to create a zombie army)... They, like the humans they’re chasing, are trying to survive.
Director George A. Romero revolutionized the American horror movie genre with his ground breaking 1968 film, “Night of the Living Dead.” Following the success of NotLD, Romero went on to direct many other films in the 70’s and 80’s. However, none of his other films ever matched the greatness of NotLD, until 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead.” The story of Romero’s directing basically repeats itself, and he had one last real hurrah with the zombie genre in 1985 when he made “Day of the Dead.”
Romero basically wrote the book about the zombie movie genre. In fact, his experience with zombie films have led some people to proclaim him as “the godfather of zombie horror.”
So what happens when the godfather comes back to direct one more zombie flick? Rotten Tomatoes loves it and I loathe it.
When I heard this movie was coming out, I was ecstatic. Right off the heels of the recent zombie movie successes, I was excited to see what Romero could bring back to the genre. In “Resident Evil,” we see an evil corporation actually create the deadly virus (and fail to contain). In “28 Days Later,” we learn that these zombies are very animal-like (they run) and aren’t the sluggishly moving creatures we once thought them to be. And the “Dawn of the Dead” remake, well, that was just awesome to see in a modern day setting (oh, and there was the zombie baby, too).
What could Romero possibly do to push the genre? Do humans find a way to reverse the virus? Do we finally create a vaccination and the zombies mutate? Do the zombies start to die off because people finally learn how to effectively kill them (shot to the head or sever the spinal chord) and live without fear?
No, none of that. Romero decides that since he helped create this genre, he can do whatever he wants. And by “whatever he wants,” I mean re-write years of plot essentials. With “Land of the Dead,” Romero lays the gauntlet down with these six new characteristics of zombies:
Um... no. That’s bullshit. Zombies want one thing, to feed. They don’t get distracted. They don’t use weapons. They don’t talk. They don’t enact revenge on people. And they sure as hell don’t learn. They eat. Everyone knows that. There’s even been a book on how to survive zombie attacks, and it’ll back me up.
Romero apparently took a page out of Lucas’ book and really let me down with this one. He’s really good at making things gorey, but that doesn’t make a movie great. Thank goodness he doesn’t own the rights to everything zombie.