I like stuff about zombies. Sure, vampires are cool and I guess werewolves have their moments (few and far between). There’s just something about zombies that gets me where it counts. I mean, is it so unthinkable that a virus exists that could turn humans into mindless, flesh-eating monsters? I’m sure there’s some military research program out there devoted to creating a biological “zombie bomb”, I mean look at all the other weird shit they come up with.
Anyway, since Halloween is right around the corner, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite zombie related movies, books and video games. I hope you enjoy it and maybe discover something new. In no particular order…
28 Days Later – DVD & Blu-Ray
Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach), 28 Days Later takes the old Zombie formula and turns it on it’s ear by rooting it in a more ‘realistic’ setting. Rather than a comet raising the dead from their graves, zombies are infected with a ‘Rage’ virus. The movie follows the story of a bike messenger who wakes up from a coma 28 days after the plague has wiped out most of England. He has to come to grips with what has happened while he was comatose while finding a way to survive. 28 Days Later also introduced the concept of “fast zombies”. These guys don’t sluggishly stumble towards you, they run… sometimes on all fours like a gorilla. If you’re looking for some stylish camera work and a fresh take on Zombie invasion, then you have to check out this movie. Also a sequel has been made called 28 Weeks Later, I’ll be checking that one out this weekend for Halloween.
World War Z – Novel / Audio book (This is in reference to the Audiobook)
World War Z is the Oral History of first Zombie War. Recorded 12 years after the end of the war, several survivors recount their experiences during the greatest conflict in human history. Max Brooks continues his budding legacy as the next great authority on zombie horror. The audio book features some of the finest voice performances I’ve ever heard. The cast includes Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, Alan Alda, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Steve Park, among others. The stories span the entire 10 years of the war, from early cases of infection to the now-legendary “Battle of Yonkers, NY”, all the way to the final days of the war. There’s also a podcast available which features excerpts from the audio book. It should be noted that the audio book only features about 1/2 the stories from the novel, so if you’re hungry for more zombie action go pick up the book.
The Zombie Survival Guide – Instruction Manual
I’ve already covered this book in a previous Nerdlog post, so to avoid redundancy I will keep this one brief… Every person on the planet should read this book.
Dawn of the Dead (2004) – DVD
Now, I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for the original 70’s flick. I remember watching it several times at the video store I worked at in college. Still, the remake is a lot of fun and keeps the spirit of the original movie intact. It’s still as fun as ever to see what people would do if they had nothing to do but hang out in a mall for an extended period of time. Plus it features Richard Cheese’s rendition of “Down with the Sickness”. As zombie movies go, you could do a lot worse than this one. If you’re a purist, make it a double feature night and rent the original too.
Dead Rising – Xbox 360
While we’re on the topic of being trapped in a mall during a zombie invasion, it’s hard not to mention Capcom’s Dead Rising. This game is destined to go down as a classic misunderstood title, even though it wasn’t a runaway financial success. With a frantic timer countdown (72 hours) and a weird save system, Dead Rising created a feeling of dread as any mistake could derail your survival. Half the fun in this game is being able to use almost any item in the mall to kill zombies. You’ll probably want to play through it several times to experiment with various weapons and explore all the obscure nooks and crannies of the mall. I have to give Capcom a lot of credit for the scale and detail they used when creating the mall, it’s absolutely amazing to get immersed in. This one is a budget title now and can be found even cheaper in the pre-played rack at most game stores.
Resident Evil – Gamecube / Playstation
While there have now been several games in the series, the original still stands as the greatest zombie game ever made (though some may argue that #4 is a close rival). The experience of being trapped in a giant mansion infested with zombies was the first time I ever jumped from fear while playing a video game. If you have a Gamecube, grab that version as it has superior re-vamped graphics and sound. If not, grab the original off eBay or the bargain bin, it will play in your PS2 or PS3 (if you no longer have a working PSOne).
Night of the Living Dead – DVD
“They’re coming to get you Barbara!”… This is the original, the grandfather of them all. If you haven’t seen this movie at least ten times, run (don’t walk) to your local DVD retailer and buy a copy. This movie is still amazing and stands as the definitive zombie experience. George Romero made history with this movie and even though Land of the Dead was terrible, he still holds the throne as the king of zombie horror. NOTE: Avoid the updated versions of this movie like the undead plague! Get the original 1968 B&W version of the film ONLY. There have been some terrible revisions made in the anniversary editions including new scenes and storylines that are absolutely horrible.
The Book of the Dead – Novel
John Skipp and Craig Spector have compiled a collection of short stories that take place in the post-zombie apocalyptic world created by George Romero. If you ever wondered what happened the day after the day of the dead, this is a great place to start.
Return of the Living Dead – DVD
This is a pretty campy zombie movie left over from the 80’s. For some reason every time I see it on TV, I’m compelled to sit and watch it. Not the greatest flick, but it has a level of charm that made it impossible for me to exclude it from this list.
Shaun of the Dead - DVD
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright get Zombie horror 100%. Shaun of the Dead is a comedy set in the middle of a zombie invasion, but don’t write it off as a ‘Scary Movie’ parody. This movie will have you laughing hysterically one minute and jumping out of your seat the next. This could very well be my favorite zombie-related piece of work on this list. If you haven’t seen it… make sure you do.
So there you have it, my list of favorite zombie stuff. This list is in no way meant to be the definitive list of zombie-related works. I’m sure other zombie enthusiests will have their own favorite, and probably find some of these to be pretty “JV” compared to the more hardcore stuff out there. Take it for what it is, my favorites. Happy Halloween!