It’s the Walking Dead finale tonight in America, tomorrow in the UK. In honour of this, I’m listing my favourite zombie stories.
28 Days Later
A podcast I listen to talked about this film and its sequel. The American hosts talked about how much they liked the sequel and didn’t like the original. Is that a common thing for Americans in general, or just that the five or so hosts felt that way? For everyone I know who’s seen the two films here in the UK, myself included, it’s the other way round. Film two is pretty terrible, film one is incredible.
If that observation holds beyond the, admittedly small, scope of my experience, I guess it’s just a cultural difference. For me, the quiet claustrophobia of the first film is much more frightening, intense and chilling than the much more action based sequel. Though I will admit that bit where they use the helicopter to cut off all the zombie heads was awesome.
When I first watched this film, I had nightmares for weeks. I was about thirteen, before you deride me completely. Okay, I am a complete wuss, but still. Thirteen. It’s the scene where they have to change their tyre in the tunnel and all the rats run past that does it for me. The rats are running away… from the super fast rage zombies. The following thirty seconds is probably one of the most intense ways to spend half a minute. Plus, that bit where the dad gets blood dripped in his eye… tragic.
To me, this remains one of the cleverest, scariest zombie films I’ve seen. And it gave rise to that infamous bit of music (Don Abandons Alice) that’s been used on so many different films now, but always makes me think of zombies and Cillian Murphy.
Shaun of the Dead
The original RomZomCom. Not without its moments of heartbreak and terror, Shaun of the Dead manages to be simultaneously hilarious and affecting.
This was my introduction to Simon Pegg and company, and it remains my favourite of their films. The hapless Shaun is exactly how most people would be in a zombie apocalypse – completely oblivious. And then bickering about which LPs should be thrown at a zombie’s head in order to incapacitate it.
There’s some pretty good zombie action, particularly when the group find themselves surrounded in the Winchester. But the ultimate resolution is the best. Zombies to do menial labour? Pretty good idea. Zombies as gameshow contestants? Ingenious.
Combining Zombies with parallel universes, this sweeping tale kept me up many a late night – at first to finish reading it, and then because it kept running through my mind and scaring the crap out of me.
It’s a meandering tale with more than just zombies in play. There’s plenty of scientific and human drama going on around the brain eaters. As is usually the case, the people are more scary than the zombies, and the decisions that some people make are exactly the sort of dumbass, arrogant choices that plenty of idiots you know would make. Enraging all the more for the believability. Humans. We suck at times.
The idea of Zombies as a sort of biological weapon is a great one. Even better is the ending, but I won’t spoil.
World War Z
If you only read this for one reason, read it for the stories about the army and the way they deal with the Zombies – terribly at first, then eventually in the most brutally efficient way imaginable. Brilliant, and so like ‘duh, why didn’t every person in a zombie film ever think of this?’
The film is also great, though a different beast entirely. Worth watching for Brad Pitt’s female soldier companion alone. And the bit where the Zombies scale the wall – the only time I’ve ever seen Zombies portrayed as a truly unstoppable force, their sheer weight of numbers allowing them to overwhelm the more intelligent, capable humans.
And then there’s the scene in the British CDC with the clicky zombie. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.
Misfits Season 3, Episode 7 (that one with the zombie cheerleaders)
Hilarious purely for the subplot with Rudy and why the hell does he hate cheerleaders so much? (Resolved in typical gruesome Misfits fashion) But also, a great zombie tale.
Everything on Misfits was necessarily contained within the community centre. The idea that zombies could be running around and it really wouldn’t spread any further than a few cheerleaders is a bit laughable, but then when Hitler is accidentally given future technology by a time traveller, the gang are still all in the community centre in the radically changed future. Just roll with it.
The Walking Dead
And of course, The Walking Dead itself. I’ve read the first compendium of the comic, but must admit to preferring the TV show. Mostly because Daryl. Yeah, I’m a walking stereotype of a female Walking Dead fan, but what can I say? He’s a brilliant character. And hot. In a dirty sort of way.
The best thing about the show is how shocking it can be. It’s brutal and realistic – not afraid to kill off major players (though that has left me very concerned for the finale tonight, because though I haven’t read all the comics, I do know what Negan does and what ‘Lucille’ means…) and it’s wonderfully creative with the zombies. I loved the opener for this season, with the massive hoard at the quarry. I just hope that I can enjoy the finale while my favourite characters make it out alive. Carol is my favourite, but… I don’t know. I have a feeling her days are numbered. I called Hershel, I just hope I’m wrong about Carol.
I guess tomorrow night will tell!