Good Evening, and welcome to Fright Night.
Okay, that's just not right. Here we find ourselves on another Halloween, only this year, it isn't about the Vampires. It's about something more ... grody.
I'm really getting to the point where I don't like October much. That's hard for me to write, because October, for so very long, was my very favorite month. But that feeling has died, and what's risen in it's place seeks to chew my brains live from my blood-spurting skull. October is the month of too-much-to-do, racing against deadlines, and the expectations of others to see it done. Perhaps you find that an allegory for life as I strangely seem to. I do so with good reason, however. We all have a birthright, all that live. Our birthright is death, and that is final.
Yet, as we've approached this Halloween, I've been strangely focused on the beyond-death. No, not heaven or any afterlife, but rather on undeath. This year, it's all been about the zombies. I blame that, in part, on the election year. The undead, who feed on the living year in and year out seek our approval and attempt to act human, just so that they can remain fat and feasting on the flesh of the living. They stink; there's no doubt about that. But you and I are asked to hold our noses and vote them into our shelter of governance, such that they can feed some more. How insane do we have to be to feel sympathy for these monsters? We'll find out in a week.
Of course, as I've tried to struggle against these slavering ghouls, I've been forced to educate myself about them. So, I've been reading World War Z. I'm about 3/4 of the way through it, and I can't call it a bad book ... but it is slightly disappointing. When Kit reported that her beloved John was reading the book, she wrote that he was also somewhat disappointed with it, and I think I know why. The people of the mountains are not given nearly the credit we deserve.
Face it, we're heavily armed and somewhat isolated by shear geography. If you were the military, following a plan of isolate-regroup-resupply-exterminate, don't you think you'd have picked the one spot in the country where isolation is a given and extermination was already well underway? Of course you would. That would be the mountain west. I think we'd be right proper good at dealing with the zombies here. We've got less population to be turned, more guns per capita then the rest of the nation at large, and we're a whole lot better at making head shots when we have to. (Note to self, buy a Mossberg with a pistol grip next Buy-A-Gun day.) And I agree with John: the book would have made a much better movie. Hopefully for next Halloween, pretty please?
Really, it's not a bad book at all, but I want visuals. So, as this day of horror approached, I began the yearly ritual of watching horror flicks. I found myself gravitating towards the gory gooey zombie films for my viewing pleasure. RetroCrush has already posted their list of the best zombie movies of all time, but bad taste is as subjective as any other kind, and I don't tend to agree with their picks or placement. So kindly allow me to present my 13 fave zombie movies of all time.
13) The Dead Hate The Living. This is total low-budget cheese-ball schlock. But it is atmospheric and creepy. And they did the zombies very well.
12) Dawn of the Dead. The original bored me. This one, on the other hand, had zombies as fast moving ravening horrors. It was a desperate movie, and had one of the best soundtracks ever in a zombie film.
11) Evil Dead II. Very fun. The fight with one's own hand? The dancing headless corpse? It was cute. Not so horrific, but grossly cute.
10) Frankenstein, The True Story. What? You don't think Frankenstein flicks are really zombie movies? Think again. Besides, James Mason gets hung and Jane Seymour gets her head ripped off. What more do you want?
9) Frankenstein. One of the best horror movies ever done. Period. Kindly refer to what I wrote about it last year:
There have been a great number of really terrific Frankenstein movies made, but this is the benchmark. Boris Karloff, a sweet and gentle man, playing a horrific thing to the horror of audiences everywhere. No other Frank-monster movie made carries the sympathy for the creature that this one does. And the black-and-white is just perfect for the story told. Of the great horror stories made to film in the early 30's, this is the timeless wonder.
Not so necessarily a zombie movie, but rather good, nonetheless.
8) Dead Alive. This movie is almost too gross for me to make it through. It's a gore fest, and clever in it's execution. Face it, Peter Jackson is just brilliant.
7) Beyond the Re-animator. I just watched this last night, and found it to be exactly what the reaniumator series was all about. It was gory and horrible, and all things Dr. West. Loved that movie.
6) Re-animator. My wife will never get why I adore this movie. It really has nothing to do with the necrophiliac cunnilingus and everything to do with the horror of zombies gone wild. Its a terrific film, if you've got the zombie heeby-jeebies, that is.
5) The Fog. Yes, the original, you dolt. The remake was well beyond pathetic. Now, you can say that this was a ghost story, and not a zombie film, but watch it again. Those pirates were very corporeal. They had the urge ... so to speak. Again, I remind you what I wrote last year:
I'm likely to laugh when I finally see the 2005 remake, because almost no one can emulate the brilliance of early John Carpenter. He ties his stories into ever tighter knots, until all that is left is the atmosphere of eerie. You'll notice soon that this is not the only film of his on this list. Carpenter pulls his theme together without relying on expansive plot explanations or creepy monster effects. He toys with surroundings, and creeps you out with the inevitability of the ending.
I did laugh. The original was a worthy movie, and did credit to the undead. The Fog is among Carpenter's best.
4) Return of the Living Dead. Do the dead ... the surfin dead! This is a hip and gross movie, with niked zombie hot chicks and the whole ball of wax. Its cynical and horrific, as well as being humorous. One of the movies on this list I can quote the most: "You'd best shut your mouth if you like this job!".
3) The Evil Dead. Again, I refer you to what I wrote last year:
Okay, fine, the sequels were more fun. So what? This movie, made on no budget, is a just a creep fest. Few movies can actually make you feel isolated, alone, while watching them. This one pulls that task off well. Sam Raimi doesn't need a budget to scare people, or even creep them out. He just needs the right camera angles, cuts ... and Bruce Campbell. I may be getting way too pompous, here, but it can be well argued that this is the best directed film on this list.
A truly terrific film.
2) Shaun of the Dead. Show another zombie film that is more charming and human. Come on, I dare you! I double dare you! This is a great movie, and still manages to creep you out. Love the film.
Night Of The Living Dead. Before you get ahead of yourself, and think that I'm talking about the 1968 classic, it's possible that I'm not. I actually disagree with many of the horror critics out there; I think the remake is better. The characters behave somewhat more cruel, and to that degree, sensible. The special effects aren't as much better as they are creepier. The pacing is better in the remake. Either one is a terrific and outstanding horror movie, but the remake is simply a better Halloween movie.
So, there you have it. My education is complete, having watched all of the best zombie movies. I will know my defense and my strengths against the walking dead. Of course, with such knowledge, I could go mercenary, a zombie hunting gun for hire. Which leads me to my honorable mention for the best of zombie films. Cash Only. Its a short, but you gotta love it.
Happy Halloween, everybody. And don't forget ... shoot for the head.
However, if you prefer your zombies a little more ... gyrated ... then check this out. (I love the zombie doglette).