Tuesday, June 09, 2015


I don't know what it is, lately, but I have been drawn to watching zombie movies. That may not seem such a big deal, with today's post-apocalyptic zombie-heavy film offerings, but it is a real departure for me. I really don't like zombies. I have watched and loved horror movies from an early age. I've loved Dracula and all of his minions and incarnations. Frankenstein, aliens, creatures from black lagoons and other environs. Ghosts, devils, werewolves, you name it. But I have always drawn the line at zombies. Those brain-craving ghouls have always freaked me out, without any of the thrills that accompany other classic horror monsters.

Night of the Living Dead: "They're coming to get you, Barbra ..."
I think I can trace my fear of zombies to George Romero's classic low-budget black and white horror film, Night of The Living Dead. I saw it at a tender age, on television, like most other horror movies I was introduced to, with my dad and the rest of our family nearby. But it was so creepy, so scary, so ... possible. Yes. It still gives me shivers just thinking about it. It also was one of those movies that pissed me off, as it, like so many others that seem to always kill the back guy.

What I didn't realize at the time, was that Romero actually intended the film to be his own interpretation of author Richard Matheson's horror novel, I Am Legend. I had already seen two other film versions of that classic story with dear old dad — The Last Man on Earth, with Vincent Price, and The Omega Man, with Charlton Heston. I loved both versions. The Heston one was flashier and less serious and somber than the Price version, so was probably my favorite of the two.

The other night I finally saw the most recently filmed version of the story, I Am Legend, starring Will Smith as the last man on earth. I liked it, although it was most interesting as a study in loneliness. It was truly heartbreaking when Smith found himself truly alone around the middle of the film. The vampire/zombies were more typical movie bad guys than truly frightening.

I Am Legend: Just a story about a man and his dog ... and hordes of the undead
World War Z: Brad Pitt, trying to remain calm in many, many storms
I saw I Am Legend just a few days after finally getting up the courage to watch World War Z, which had been gathering dust in my Netflix queue for ages. I have always been a big Brad Pitt fan, so it was definitely the zombies which kept me from checking it out any sooner. I have to admit that I loved this movie. I'm still thinking about it. It was tense. And intense. I literally sat on the edge of my seat through some of the sequences. I never read the original novel by Max Brooks (son of Mel), so the variations from its oral history style didn't bug me.

I really liked World War Z's globe-trekking nature, which reminded me a bit of Bram Stoker's Dracula, where the action goes from England to Transylvania and back again. Pitt plays Gerry, a former UN investigator, who is coerced into tracking down the origins of a zombie plague which is sweeping the world. His love for his family and his fears for their safety are strong motivators. His questioning mind is also a big factor. He can't help but be fascinated by this terrible situation. There are some thrilling sequences: the family's initial witnessing of the zombies attacking in Philadelphia, Gerry's travels to South Korea,and Jerusalem, and an amazing zombie attack mid-flight. The show-stopes may well be Gerry's attempts to elude sound-sensitive zombies in the silent corridors of a World Health Organization labyrinthian lab in Wales.

I saw the unedited cut of World War Z, because that's what's on offer from Netflix. I'm not a big fan of gore, but the story and acting was compelling enough to keep me watching, even when blood may have been spurting. There is already a sequel in the works, set to be released in 2017. For once, thanks to Brad Pitt and Game of Thrones' recently thrilling depictions of wights and White Walkers, I have to say, I am going to be looking forward to seeing a zombie movie. Who knows, maybe I'll even get up the courage to see this one in the movie theater.


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