This week sees the release of zombie behemoth, World War Z. Undead fan favourites such as Zombie Flesh Eaters and Dawn Of The Dead insinuate from their titles and their artwork that an impending bout of necrotic zombie tomfoolery is imminent. What most cinema goers fail to realise is that Hollywood is continuing to force the undead upon us without us realising it.
The term ‘zombie’ stems from Haitian folklore, and is defined by their culture as a corpse resurrected by mystical means such as witchcraft. Nothing there about eating brains or similarly groaning about a desire for brains. Whether you realise it or not, zombies are present in more films than you’d think.
What follows is a number of films which technically include zombies but are pegged in marketing material and fan lore as something else entirely.
1. Pet Sematary
This terrifying flick based on the Stephen King novel is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t live near an ancient Indian burial ground. Native American burial grounds are places of reverence and peace. You know, like normal cemetaries. Except when the ground turns “sour” as it does in this small New England town, it’s probably best to leave Granny in her coffin down at the local Methodist.
Still, that’s not enough for Louis Creed who cannot deal with the premature loss of his son. Opting to have a murderous, hateful replica of his innocent child, Louis buries his body up in the Sematary. It’s only a matter of time before little Gage Creed comes back with an axe to grind (actually, it’s a scalpel.)
There’s no question that when people return from the Micmac grounds, they’re changed. If they’re not zombies then I’ll buy a hat and then eat it.
Stuart Gordon, the director of Re-Animator was first struck with the idea for the film after bemoaning the amount of vampire films being made and asking the question: why are there no Frankenstein films? (What about Frankenhooker?) He took to the library and read H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West, Reanimator short story, after which he opted to adapt it.
When madder-than-syph Zurich university student Herbert West finds a way to bring one of his dead professors back to life, he gets accused of murder. Soon after he makes his way to the US to continue his studies. Buddying up with another med student, the two set about bringing cats back to life with his special reanimating solution. After this success they then bust into the university morgue to revive a corpse. It works, until the undead bastard kills West’s nemesis who in turn is revived and….well, you get the idea.
Injecting corpses with a vibrant agent that gets them up out of their soiled shorts and on a murderous rampage? Sounds like zom zoms to me.
3. The Evil Dead
The Evil Dead was one of the first breakout lo-fi horror hits to throw a bunch of kids in a cabin in the woods. Now, of course in this age of self-referentiality (see: every film possesses a film nerd, possibly with their own website) characters veer away from staying in such abodes. And with good reason too.
Lurking deep in the cabin’s cellar lies a grand tome, the Necronomicon, which when read aloud awakens an evil presence within the woods. After the evil dead rises from its slumber it decides to hunt the kids down and put a stop to them. Well, sort of. Once attacked, the malicious entity passes into them. A transformation occurs, switching their bland twentysomething personalities and typical visages for screeching bastards who look like they’ve lost a fight with a razor.
Nobody says zombie, but come on….back from the dead, trying to kill humans, giving off a whiff worse than a dumpster full of nappies? Zerm-ber!
4. I Am Legend
A tall tale reflecting every person’s fear of getting their measles jab, I Am Legend sends that terror out of control and down your trouser leg.
Set in a future where a supposed genius creates a cancer cure that actually kills most of the population, Will Smith’s military virologist is one of the last remaining humans on the planet. Quite lucky he’s equipped with the skills to combat the lethal strain.
See, not only does it kill people, but rather a large number morph into what the film calls Darkseekers. With vile hygienic habits and an unfortunate fetish for flesh, this massive undead army pose quite the threat to the planet.
This hoard of whiter-than-white killers even have their own special nickname so as to purposefully avoid the ‘zombie’ tag. But come on, who are they kidding?