kraftymiles

Technology, Films, Nonsense

Zombies

Posted by kraftymiles on February 25, 2008

Ok, so this all started with discussions amongst friends on my favourite sub genre, the French Zombie Film. Now, whilst that makes me sound like a twat, let me explain. French Zombie films have nudity. And Nazis. Apart from that however, they’re a fairly unfulfilling bunch to watch as they seem to stick to a similar plot line, and it’s not one that has done well by them. Nazi Zombies are discovered and come back to take over the world. There are only so many times you can watch that develop, but like I said, the nudity helps.

So where do they go wrong? Zombie films should be set in a small location, somewhere claustrophobic, dank, foetid. As Zombies can’t move fast, you need to keep everyone in a single place; otherwise the main characters could just walk away at a brisk clip. It’s the point of the film to keep all the protagonists in close proximity till the final sunrise. And believe you me, there always is one. Nothing ends a zombie film like a nice new dawn, except maybe the chance of a sequel. In which case we end with sunrise; happy couple surviving, but wait! What’s that in the background?! Follow this by a slowly rising violin soundtrack and a camera move to the sun, dirty lens and all. SIDE BAR: The Dirty lens isn’t exactly what it sounds like; it’s when you see several reflections from the sun in the lens. It used to be the case that a good cameraman would do everything he could to avoid them, but then along came Easy Rider.

30 Days of Night had an interesting idea for keeping the main characters in place while the Vampires attacked (darkness) and the new Stephen King (The Mist) also keeps everyone in a shop. R-Point keeps them on an island, as does that terrible one set in a hotel. Even the fast-moving remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ maintains this claustrophobia by keeping them in the Shopping Mall. Admittedly, it’s only when in the under lit parking lot that you feel tense alongside them, as shopping malls are by their very nature brightly lit. SIDE BAR: Have you ever been in a shopping mall when the lights are out? Very dark places, so one wonders how the one in Dawn… was so well lit all the time. The characters in that do start down the road to post-zombie living, but we as movie goers weren’t quite ready for that at the time. More of which later.

To accompany the claustrophobia, there needs to be the idea of helplessness that this is it and there is no way out, combined with the sense of hope / resolution in that “If we don’t succeed in killing them off now, then the whole world is doomed! Let us band together” We move into this territory with the Day of the Dead, set in the halfway house of claustrophobia and hope of a military air base. It’s underground, dark, spooky, but of course there are guns, lots of em. And helicopters. SIDE BAR: Who keeps on thinking that chopping off zombie heads with a helicopter is a good idea? Do it in long shot and no one can really see what is going on, do it in close up and it may as well be a sword, which as a decapitation device is much better.

Of course there has been a different approach in the last few years in moving to a more global consequences type zombie film. Probably due to a raising of our consciousness about things such as global warming (what we do here locally will affect the world) And so you see things like 28 Days / Weeks Later (I KNOW they’re not zombie films) and the upcoming WWZ, and also things like The Walking Dead, which deals solely with the aftermath of the zombie take over. Things like “How do we live now that the Zombies rule the world?” I believe this is because we are only now starting as a society to think more seriously about things like “How will we live in a world without oil?” Of the themes I’ve talked about here, you’ll see many of them years before they become popular in the Romero work. This is because as a writer he wasn’t writing zombie flicks, it was political commentary all with way with George. This also accounts for the longevity of the films; the themes in them are only now becoming ones we recognise.

How did I go from Naked French Girls to Global Oil Crisis? I have no idea.

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2 Responses to “Zombies”

  1. Shereen said

    How did I go from Naked French Girls to Global Oil Crisis? I have no idea.

    http://xkcd.com/214/

  2. WriTerGuy said

    It’s not that hard. Start at Blog Like It’s The End Of The World and end up at World Without Oil. Voila!

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