mercredi 8 janvier 2014

You Can't Choose The Best Zombie Movies If You Don't Know The Rules

By Mickey Jhonny

Deciding upon the best zombie movies presupposes a reliable understanding of what exactly are zombies - or, for that matter, zombie movies. The non-aficionados on the topic might be a little surprised to learn the answer to these questions isn't so self evident. Among the keenest fans of the genre there are in fact a number of areas of dispute. Certainly no attempt is made here to conclude whether or not running zombies qualify; nor what constitutes evidence of having died. Still, even without resolving these kinds of thorny issues, we can conjecture some useful rules to guide us. I mean, a definition that merely said zombies were the undead would invite vampires into the category. And we certainly can't have that. Those vampire kids are so outre. So some kind of rule of thumb will be helpful.

Of course it's something of a cliche to observe that rules are made to be broken. That may be so and without question even the rules of zombie movie conventions have not been rigorously observed. Despite this fast and loose playing with the rules, some enduring conventions can be identified. Exercising a little flexibility in discussing them should keep us out of too much conceptual hot water, while allowing us to set some parameters.

In looking at these zombie movie conventions it is useful to distinguish between the pre and the post Romero zombies. We can conclude by identifying, too, some of the standard narrative rules of zombie movies.

The Pre Romero Zombies

1. Following in the Haitian voodoo tradition that gives rise to the zombie idea, the pre-Romero zombies often had a master of some sort who raised them and thereby controlled therm.

2. They were characterized by slow, unbalanced movement,

3. Zombies were often associated to some kind of social collapse, issuing into an apocalyptic, nihilistic world.

4. These earlier films also commonly depicted zombiism as the manifestation of a plague.

Romero/post-Romero Zombies

5. No longer under the control of a master-mind, zombies became more like a natural disaster. Sometimes they were interrupted as nature itself striking back for alleged humanly caused harms.

6. They were now driven by an insatiable hunger to eat the living, which had (and apparently required) no further explanation.

7. Under Romero's influence, the zombie attacks were explicitly depicted in graphic and gruesome detail, with emphasis on the gore.

8. And possibly the most enduring of Romero's revision of the zombie mythology was the idea that they could only be "killed" by a skull crashing blow of some sort that damaged their brain.

9 Though perhaps as enduring as #8 is the premise that the zombie plague, which as we saw predates Romero's vision, was spread through the human population by zombie bites.

Stock ingredients for a zombie movie

10. A generic moron, who out of stupidity, selfishness, cowardice or general inhumanity will prove to be the weak link in the fortifications protecting the straggling survivors against the zombies.

11. Straggling survivors, usually with a rainbow-like ethnic, gender and age mix, who capture in microcosm the hope and futility, dignity and venality, of the humanity that is in all likelihood about to be wiped out.

12. Initial obliviousness to what is actually happening. Apparently, all zombie movies take place in a world in which no public official, nor any other person with any authority, has ever actually seen a zombie movie. Otherwise they'd know, right?

13. Zombie movies in fact are not about the danger of zombies, but about the danger of humans.

14. A reliable staple is the sad sap, unable to let go emotionally of some past intimate relation with one of the zombies. They can't quite come to terms with the reality that their former loved one is now a cannibalistic ambulating corpse. You'd think that might be more obvious.

15. A peace maker and implicit leader, who tries to pull everyone together and is usually thanked for the effort by some obnoxious jerk eventually accusingly commenting "who made you leader?"

16. And of course some hot love-interest. Surely the most compelling geek attraction to the zombie movie is the hotties. "They'll have to have sex with me! How else will the human race be repopulated?" Unfortunately, though, that cuts across both genders, so there's always some alpha type to get in your way. But, still at least it gives some hope. How do you survive a zombie apocalypse without some hope?

So, now, when somebody asks you about the best zombie movies , you know what you're talking about!

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