Wicked This Way Comes...
This past March, N&W.com presented “Essential Zombie Films:
Undead Movies to Live By” to prepare our readers for the impending zombie apocalypse.
Our tutorial provided a broad range of resources for all your zombie-fighting needs:
zombies isn’t all fun and games. Reanimated dead have a serious side, too—what George
“Zombie Master” Romero, Night of the Living Dead creator, refers to as an
“underbelly,” a politically-charged metaphorical theme that keeps them on the move. From
inception, the genre has reflected the political and social climate of their release.
With a number of zombie flicks in cue over the next couple of years, Pop Cultist
will take it in the gut to expose that “underbelly.” So lock the doors, bar the windows,
and grab your boom stick and your running shoes—because in this day and age it’s hard to
keep a good corpse down.
- Shopping tips: The good news is that during Armageddon, the malls
are dead. The bad news is that you’re on the food court menu! Use the express lanes at
all times, even if that means turning Sears into a drive thru. (Dawn of the Dead)
- Fashion: It’s easy to look hip when all
your peers are shuffling around in yesterday’s styles (hey, they’re dead…they’re all
messed up), but how do you accessorize when you have a power tool for an appendage? Ash
will show you how to kick undead ass and look groovy doing it! (Evil Dead 2)
- Romance: Can’t seem to connect with your partner when they no longer have
a pulse? Don’t think you can love a flesh-eating ghoul? Before you brain your soulless
soul mate with a shovel, try some tips from a couple guys that weren’t willing to let go
(Cemetery Man, Return of the Living Dead 3).
Devil’s Rejects: House of 1,000 Corpses
House of 1,000 Corpses is a zombie movie in the same way
Bill is a straight samurai flick; it’s just one of the many genre elements
meticulously crafted into a patchwork homage, compliments of a slobbering fan-boy done
good. Seeing shock rocker Rob Zombie’s controversial film for the first time was a lot
like catching him in concert: ruckus, wild and unsettling, with an equally unruly
The movie’s formulaic approach and seventies horror flavor—college
students + cannibalistic hillbilly family = carnage—begged a number of comparisons to
Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In spirit, the movie earned this heritage far better than
remake, infused with a wide range of hauntingly surreal elements that give it a
wicked turn for the weird. The hybrid genre showcase breaks from the butchering Brady
Bunch motif late in the film to add some supernatural zombie moments. All executed
with hyper jump cuts and electrifying edits, the film is a stellar work of MTV school of
The sequel, Devil’s Rejects, lifts its plot
from TCM 2 with the dysfunctional clan playing The Partridge Family this
time around, taking to the road on the run from vengeance-seeking lawmen.
Taking it in the gut:
Studios snuffed it, critics
loathed it, and the paper where I was interning gave 15 minutes of its editors’ meeting
to debate it, but no one seemed to actually get it. In true zombie fashion, this rocker
by the same name bit the hand that feeds him twice, issuing commentary on both MTV and
the fringe of his fan base alike. At the core of the film is a cynically charged
satirical reflective genre piece that even surpasses the similarly themed Scream.
House of 1,000 Corpses looks at the way society merges real events, urban legend,
and Hollywood fantasy in the same strange narrative stew.
At one point,
the film provides an aside to real life serial killer Ed Gein, the inspiration for
Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the
Lambs, whose gruesome killings deeply impacted the collective American psyche.
Gein became the center of a media circus, a subject of concentration in abnormal
psychology, and the product of folklore. His hometown was turned into a museum of the
macabre where his house, car, and personal belongings were showcased to paying customers
and eventually auctioned to the highest bidders. These accounts attest to the strange
role serial killers have assumed in aspects of our culture—as sensationalist icons
adorning T-shirts, buttons, Frisbees, and an unhealthy section of our collective
imagination. Zombie adds to this commentary “reality television” style vignettes with his
characters, showing our modern forms of entertainment have blurred these lines even
Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse
action-horror franchise was slated to have Romero at the helm, but he was bumped from the
running early on because he hadn’t stayed true to the video game that inspired it (when
was the last time the same respect was afforded a book-to-movie adaptation?). Having
never been a fan of the arcade movie genre, I had little hope for the first film, but
Milla Jovovich fighting corporate manufactured flesh eaters won me over.
Equal parts Aliens and Day of the Dead, the film follows a
high tech military team (guaranteeing ample explosions, big guns, and macho mayhem) into
the “hive”: a privately owned military laboratory operated by the Umbrella Corp who has
manufactured the ‘T-Virus’ which (brace yourselves) reanimates the dead. Zombie induced
chaos ensues, combined with a haywire hybrid of 2001’s Hal meets the creepy kid
factor and an assortment of fiendish mutants. And all that paved the way for this timely
sequel, where the ‘T’ is released on the unsuspecting civilians, and the world must
contend with a zombie apocalypse (hence the name).
Taking it in
The connections between military operations, government, and
big business have rarely been clearer, with the Veep having pledged his allegiance to his
former company, Halliburton, and subsidiaries getting the country entrenched in a brutal
occupation based on fabricated evidence for corporate greed. The original film’s
corporate bad guy is only slightly less generic than that of Tomb Raider,
but real world issues can often make a cliché plot device born again.
For more from Josh on ghouls and zombies, check out his list
of the top 100 Halloween movies:
Part One: The
Part Two: The Story of
Part Three: A Halloween
Part Four: The Meaning of