Let’s Talk Zombies

Zombies Are Cool!

The first recorded sighting of a zombie was in the film White Zombie (1932) and in 1968, George Romero released Night Of The Living Dead which marked the true birth of zombies as we know them today. Since then, of course, the undead have gone viral with a plethora of films and TV series made about them. So many in fact that it’s hard to pin down my favourites because I’ve seen so many films and TV series. There is a kind of irony though, especially since most of us are currently living through some lockdowns, and terms such as quarantine, virus, and infection are all too familiar to us, although most zombie shows were made long before the current pandemic and watching them now is eerily prophetic.

Zombies on film and TV

28 Days Later

I’m not sure why, but I’m fascinated by the idea of waking up and finding myself all alone in the world and then trying to figure out why it all happened and what on earth is going on. It would certainly be a lot quieter without the daily distractions we all have to deal with and this is precisely the premise with which Danny Boyle’s film opens. On the other hand, the London streets are deserted and strewn with debris and abandoned cars, but as the viewer, you know damn well that it’s not going to stay like that for long because all hell is bound to be let loose. The big difference in this film is that zombies don’t simply shuffle around, they run, and they run damned fast. 28 Weeks Later expounds on this mechanic with the Rage virus showing itself in even more gory detail. Not for the faint of heart or just before dinner.

Dawn Of The Dead

Survivors of the zombie apocalypse find themselves in a shopping mall where they think they are safe until things go horribly wrong. In every zombie scenario, I’m always asking out loud, “Who left the door open?” This is a common mistake with zombie survivors — someone finds a safe escape passage, usually at night and some bright spark forgets to shut the door behind them — cue shambling zombies attracted by the noise (or worse, an athletic zombie who runs faster than you can) and it’s curtains for our survivors.

Shaun Of The Dead

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are best mates in this ‘zom-rom-com’ where they are at first hilariously oblivious to the undead walking the streets of their London suburb, sipping pints in the local pub while all hell is breaking loose around them. As parodies go, it’s up there with the very best and in typical British style of understatement, cricket bats and shovels are what save the day, just.

World War Z

Again we encounter zombies with Olympic standards of sprinting, also capable of swarming up massive walls until finally, Brad Pitt saves the world in the unlikely location of South Wales with a possible vaccine. As zombie films go, World War Z is surprisingly good and keeps you on your toes throughout the film.

The Walking Dead

TWD is Probably the definitive zombie saga and as the name suggests, the undead do not run, but walk, or maybe shuffle, hence their moniker of walkers. Clearly, this is preferable to the turbocharged versions, but they are still pretty nasty when encountered close up. I’ve watched the entire series twice from beginning to end, although I’ve yet to watch season 10. Like many zombie tales, humans remain more dangerous than the undead, on the whole, and although the series loses some of its bite later on, with far too many daft human dramas, the depiction of the undead dead in all their shapes and sizes, is memorable.

Honourable mentions

  • Z Nation
  • Black Summer
  • Fear The Walking Dead
  • Zombieland
  • Train To Busan
  • Army Of The Dead

Gaming Zombies

Okay, in The Division we don’t encounter any shambling undead, but this 2016 looter-shooter is prescient.

However, my first encounter with gaming zombies was in 1998’s Half-Life, where the scientists and other characters in the Black Mesa facility are zombified by jumping head crabs.

Fortunately, they don’t walk very fast, but since they deviate from your average zombie format in that they possess larger than average clawed hands, they are best avoided where possible. In this situation, the crowbar is your best friend if you need to conserve ammo. But watch out for headcrabs — if they stick to your face, it’s curtains.

Resident Evil

Scary more for the atmosphere than the actual undead, Resident Evil is a survival horror series of games, and believe me, the games really know how to ramp up the tingles on the back of your neck. Luckily for me, the zombies are surprisingly lethargic, but once they get their mitts around you, it’s quite a job to struggle free. I’ve only played the Resident Evil 2 & 3 remakes and whilst I don’t really like survival horror, for some strange reason I keep getting drawn to the genre. Look out, he’s behind you! couldn’t be more true for Resident Evil.

Dying Light

The zombies in Dying Light vary in their abilities in that most are the classic shamblers, wandering aimlessly in search of fresh human meat. However, there are numerous zombie mutants with suicidal tendencies (wouldn’t you want to self-emolliate if you were a zombie?) that enjoy propelling themselves towards you for their lunch, or others who do the same and explode before your face. But night-time is when the ultra zombies really come out to play and your best bet is to find a safe house as fast as you can. And believe me, you will run to that safe house!

Days Gone

Days Gone is still my favourite zombie outing. It’s original, has an interesting story, massive zombie hordes, superb graphics and you get to travel on a motorcycle running over zombies and nasty, vengeful humans. I’ve already written about the game here in Days Gone – Ignore The Negative Reviews because it gives the genre a much-needed lick of paint. In fact, if you want to avoid the zombies or freakers as they are referred to, you can spend your time riding around the Oregon countryside admiring the splendid views and later on take sniper shots at the many human enemies. Just make sure you’re safely tucked up in bed by nightfall though.

Here’s a short video I made on what Days Gone looks like on PC.

Honourable mentions

  • World War Z – PC game
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Far Cry 5 – Living Zombies DLC
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Zombie Army 4 (Nazi zombies!)

So, it looks like the undead, in all their various guises are here to stay then, and if zombies are your thing, please let us know which is your favourite and why.

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