You’re The Inspiration 11 “Shoot For The Head Part 4”

 

        I know, I know it’s been a while since the last installment of this series. I have been itching to get to this but the real world and the paying gigs have been taking precedence. Yes I know I’ve written a few essays since the last SFTH installment but those were pieces inspired by my then current feelings and not of my autobiographical narrative and therefore more driven by emotion than information.

        But that is the past… and now moving forward.

       

 

 

 

The Non George Romero Zombie Flicks

 

        Last time we waded through the entirety of George A. Romero’s cannon of films. It was fun and even I learned a few things about my creative foundations. Today we dive into the rest of the zombie film universe.

        Where are you going?

        Don’t run!

        Look I promise we will not be delving into the entire catalog. There are hundreds of zombie movies out there and I have neither the time nor the inclination to talk about more than a fraction of them. There are so many of them that entire book could be written doing nothing more than giving a synopsis of the movies.

        It’s enough to make my head hurt.

        No in this part I will be concentrating on a small list of films, both good and bad, that I am particularly fond of for one reason or another. I will also only be covering English speaking movies. There are plenty of non English movies that are worthy of consideration on any best, or worst, list of zombie movies. But to tell the truth and shame the devil I have watched very few of these movies.

        Go ahead and make your clucks of disappointment, I can wait.

        Are you finished?

        Good, now allow me to explain. The reason I can’t handle foreign zombie films no matter how awesome, Dead Snow and Zombie 108 I’m looking at you, is very simple. I can’t deal with dubbing and subtitles, say sorry but it’s the truth.

        Now what can you expect as you read this seemingly gigantic essay?

        Much like my Star Trek Series, shameless plug go check it out, I will be giving my thoughts on each of the films and a short rundown on what about why I love them so much.

 

FAIR WARNING!

 

        Each movie will have the Wikipedia synopsis included for reader ease. I’m in no way trying to inflate word count by doing this, seriously look at my output too little word count is far from a problem. I just want you (the reader) to have the movie rundowns at your fingertips without having to search it. If you want to read the entire Wiki entries on the movies I have included the proper hyperlink in the headings. Due to my OCD the movies are presented in alphabetical and not chronological order.

        Now let’s get to it.

 

 

The Movies

 

        The foundations of the modern zombie genre lie firmly in the works of Mr. George A, Romero. But as much as I love George’s works, even the mediocre ones, he is far from the only writer/director to do the genre right. This is a list of the non Romero movies that have served as my creative inspiration in one way or another.

       

 

 

28 Days Later (2002)

 

        Danny Boyle’s gut churning opus would deserve to be on the top of this list even if I wasn’t presenting these in alphabetical order. Now before you start screaming about how 28 Days is not a zombie movie may I ask you to do one little thing?

        Shut the fuck up.

        Seriously I have been arguing this point for 12 years now and I am tired of it. No I admit the infected of 28 Days are not zombies, but they are more faithful to the zombie genre than many of the so called zombie movies of the 21st century, and if you don’t agree you know what you can do.

        Okay then, moving on.

        I know in my liver that if there’d been no 28 Days Later I never would have been able to accept and even love the remake of my beloved Dawn of the Dead. The infected running through the streets of post apocalyptic London scared the ever loving piss out of me. Upon my first viewing of the film, on DVD the very day it was released, I ended up on my feet cheering for Jim as he was chased by the horde of infected.

        It was intense to say the least.

        In case I’ve failed to state my case clearly I love this movie, in is without a doubt my favorite non Romero zombie film. 28 Days Later is as close to a perfect movie as I’ve ever seen. Also it was my first exposure to one Mr. Christopher Eccleston… years before he was the Doctor.

 

Synopsis
 
In Cambridgeanimal liberation activists break into a medical research laboratory with the intent of freeing captive chimpanzees. They are interrupted by a scientist (David Schneider) who desperately warns that the chimps are infected with "Rage," a highly contagious virus that is spread through blood and saliva. Ignoring the scientist, the activists release the chimpanzees. One of the chimps attacks an activist and immediately infects her, leading her to infect everyone else present.
 
Twenty-eight days later, in London, Jim (Cillian Murphy), a bicycle courier, awakens from a coma in St Thomas' Hospital. He finds the hospital—and the city—completely deserted with signs of catastrophe everywhere. Jim wanders into a church, where he is spotted and pursued by people infected by Rage. He is rescued by Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley), who throw cocktails at the "Infected", resulting in the explosion of a petrol station. At their hideout in the London Underground, Selena and Mark explain that a blood-borne, rage-inducing virus spread uncontrollably among the populace, resulting in societal collapse. They claim that infection has been reported in Paris and New York, indicating that the situation is worldwide.
 
The next morning, Selena and Mark accompany Jim to his parents' house in Deptford, where he discovers that they have committed suicide. That night, two Infected see a candle Jim lights in the kitchen and attack. Mark is badly bitten and covered in blood from the infected; Selena quickly kills him, later explaining to Jim that the virus overwhelms its victims in no more than thirty seconds. This necessitates the immediate killing of people who may have been infected. She also assures him that, should he become infected, she would kill him "in a heartbeat." After leaving, at Balfron Tower, they discover two more survivors, Frank (Brendan Gleeson), a cab driver, and his teenage daughter, Hannah (Megan Burns), and are invited to spend the rest of the night with them.
 
Frank informs them the next day that their supplies, particularly water, are dwindling; and he plays them a pre-recorded radio broadcast, apparently transmitted by a military blockade near Manchester. The broadcast claims the soldiers have "the answer to infection" and invite any survivor to attempt reaching their safe haven. The survivors board Frank's cab in search of the signal source and, throughout the trip, bond with one another in various situations. When the four reach the deserted blockade, Frank is infected when a drop of blood from a dead body falls into his eye. As he succumbs, he is killed by the arriving soldiers, who then take the remaining group to a fortified mansion under the command of Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston).
 
West shows the group that he keeps an infected soldier, Jim Mailer, chained in a back yard, demonstrating that his "answer to infection" entails waiting for the infected to starve to death while recruiting survivors to rebuild society, also revealing that Mailer was infected two days earlier. However, Jim discovers that part of the "answer" also includes luring female survivors into sexual slavery to rebuild the population with West's platoon. Jim attempts to escape with Selena and Hannah, but he's captured by the soldiers, along with the dissenting Sergeant Farrell (Stuart McQuarrie). During their imprisonment, Farrell theorizes that only Great Britain has been infected and is now quarantined; his theory is confirmed when Jim spies NATO aircraft conducting aerial reconnaissance, revealing that the virus has only spread through the UK, and has not reached mainland Europe.
 
The next day, Selena and Hannah are dressed in bouffant gowns, in preparation for being gang-raped, as two soldiers lead Jim and Farrell to be executed. When his escorts quarrel after killing Farrell, Jim escapes. After luring West and Davis to the blockade, Jim bludgeons Davis in the head with a crowbar. Jim runs back to the mansion where he releases Mailer. As Mailer attacks most of the platoon, Private Jones attempts to escape but is impaled by Jim's bayonet. Jim then finds Selena being taunted by Corporal Mitchell (Ricci Harnett). Jim then bursts into the room and brutally beats Mitchell, smashing his head against a wall and gouging his eyes out. Selena believes Jim is infected, because of his aggressive behavior; but Jim calms her by telling her, "That was longer than a Heartbeat". The two reunite with Hannah and run to Frank's cab, only for Jim to be shot by an infuriated West. After releasing West to Mailer and fleeing the mansion, Selena and Hannah rush Jim to a hospital. Jim is saved by Selena, but he is once again comatose. The group leaves Manchester.
 
Another 28 days later, around 61 days after the infection initially spreading, Jim is shown to be recovering at a remote cottage. Downstairs, he finds Selena sewing large swaths of fabric when Hannah appears. The three rush outside and unfurl a huge cloth banner, adding the final letter to the word "HELLO" laid out on the meadow. A lone Hawker Hunter T7fighter jet flies over the landscape. The infected are shown lying on roads dying of starvation. The jet flies over the three survivors waving and their distress sign while the pilot, speaking in Finnish, calls in a rescue helicopter. As it flies away, Selena says with a smile, "Do you think they saw us this time?"

 

 

 

 

28 Weeks Later (2007)

 

        The follow up to the amazing 28 Days Later is a really good zombie flick. I will go so far as to say that the first 10 and last 20 minutes of the movie are comparable in terms of tension and terror to any parts of the first movie.

        And as for the rest of the movie?

        It’s really good. The visuals of post infection Britain are haunting. The scenes with kids and their father are touching and believable. Robert Carlyle is at the top of his game and shows that the man is a master o emoting years before he was Mr. Gold. Jeremy Renner and Harold Perrineau are solid in their roles. The action and movement of the storyline is spot on, really I should hold this movie somewhere in my horror top ten but I can’t.

        Because for all of that being said the movie sticks in my craw.

        At the end of the movie when the kids, Renner, and the hot female doctor are escaping a freshly infected London the car they seek shelter in needs to be push started, have the clutch popped for all you youngsters. As this is happening the US Airforce is in the process of dropping nerve gas all over central London.

        Sigh…

        I can suspend disbelief, I really can. I can accept a rage virus wiping out the whole of the UK. I can accept the United States being the good guys who attempt to rebuild. I can even accept that a kid with two different colored eyes would be a non symptomatic carrier of the virus. These things, no matter how out there, are firmly within the rules of this movie universe.

        Do you know what I can’t accept?

        JEREMY RENNER PULLING HIS TURTLENECK OVER HIS MOUTH AND NOSE WILL NEVER PROTECT HIM FROM FUCKING NERVE GAS!!!

        Okay, that’s it, I’m done with this one.

       

 

Synopsis
 
During the original outbreak of the Rage Virus, Don, his wife Alice, and four other survivors are hiding in a barricaded cottage on the outskirts of London. They hear a terrified boy pounding at their door, and they let him in. A few minutes later, they find that the Infected have followed the boy to them. The Infected attack and kill most of the survivors, while Don, Alice, and the boy are chased upstairs. Don is separated from Alice and the boy by the Infected and jumps out of a window, abandoning them. Don, closely pursued, desperately sprints to a nearby motorboat and narrowly escapes.
 
After five weeks, all the Infected have died of starvation. After eleven weeks, NATO forces headed by the United States take control of Great Britain. After eighteen weeks, the island is declared relatively safe, although still under quarantine. Twenty-eight weeks after the outbreak, an American-led force, under the command of Brigadier General Stone, bring in settlers to re-populate the area. Among the new arrivals are Tammy and Andy, Don and Alice's children, who were in Spain on a school trip during the initial outbreak. They are subsequently admitted to District One, a safe zone guarded by the U.S. Army, on the Isle of Dogs. As they are examined by Major Scarlet Levy, the District's Chief Medical Officer, she notes Andy's differently colored eyes, a trait inherited from his mother. Sergeant Doyle, a Delta sniper and his friend, Chief Flynn, a helicopter pilot, are amongst the military presence charged with guarding the District. Tammy and Andy are reunited with their father, who had survived the original infection, was found by the U.S. army, and has become the District's caretaker. In their new flat, Don explains what happened to him and their mother and that after escaping, he arrived in a military camp and survived by waiting for the Infected to die of starvation.
 
That night, Andy has a dream about forgetting his mother's face, so Tammy and Andy decide to visit their home to get a picture of her. The next day, they sneak out of the safe zone and proceed on a scooter through the depopulated London wasteland to their former home. To their shock, they find their mother at home, in a semi-conscious state. Doyle had seen Tammy and Andy leave the safe zone; they and their mother are quickly picked up by soldiers and returned to the district. Alice is taken to a quarantine room where she is tested and found to be an asymptomatic carrier of the Rage virus. While she does not show the uncontrollable rage, she is extremely infectious and the virus causes her eyes to discolor red. Don sneaks through the Security and makes an unauthorized visit to Alice in her isolation cell and asks forgiveness for abandoning her at the cottage. When they kiss, however, the Rage Virus in her saliva immediately infects Don, who savagely kills her before going on a rampage, killing and infecting several soldiers in the building.
 
General Stone orders the building to be quarantined and District One to be put into Code Red Lock-down, and civilians are herded into safe rooms. Despite the precautions, Don breaks into a room containing a large crowd and begins killing and infecting them, quickly causing a domino effect of attackers. Scarlet rescues Tammy and Andy from containment as the soldiers in District One are ordered to shoot indiscriminately after being unable to differentiate between infected and uninfected persons during the panic. Doyle, unable to bring himself to comply with the order, abandons his post and escapes with Scarlet, Tammy, Andy, and others through the Greenwich foot tunnel. General Stone then orders that District One be firebombed; but large numbers of the Infected, including Don, escape the bombardment. Scarlet informs Doyle that the children might hold the key to a cure and must be protected at all costs. Flynn arrives by helicopter to pick up Doyle, but he refuses to take anyone else as they would be shot down if carrying possibly infected people.
 
Flynn contacts Doyle by radio and tells him to head to Wembley Stadium, but to leave the civilians. Doyle ignores his instructions and begins escorting the civilians to Wembley, breaking into an abandoned car to escape nerve gas released to kill the Infected. He is burned alive by soldiers as he tries to push start the car. Scarlet drives the car away; an Apache gunship tries to destroy the car with Tammy and Andy, but all three manage to escape the chopper. She drives them into the London Underground where, as the trio continue on foot, she is ambushed and killed by Don who then attacks and bites Andy. Tammy shoots Don before he can kill Andy who remains symptom-free, but with his eyes discolored red like those of his mother, signifying that he is now an unknowing carrier of the Rage virus. They continue to the Stadium and are picked up by a reluctant Flynn, who flies them across the English Channel to France, as previously instructed by Doyle.
 
Twenty-eight days later, a French-accented voice requesting help is heard from the radio in Flynn's abandoned helicopter. A group of the Infected are seen running through a tunnel which, as they emerge into the open, is revealed to be the exit of the Paris Métro Trocadéro station with a view of the nearby Eiffel Tower.

 

 

 

 

The Dead (2010)

 

        This movie is just fun!

        There is nothing deep or layered about it. The Dead is a buddy road movie set during the zombie apocalypse and I couldn’t be happier with it. I picked this movie up on DVD on impulse, this was before I had Netflix and I wanted something new to watch.

        It was an excellent choice.

        The Dead is a zombie popcorn movie and that is a good thing.

 

Synopsis
Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Freeman), a United States Air Force engineer, is the sole survivor of the final evacuative plane out of Africa, which crashes somewhere off the coast of West Africa. The previous night, a zombie horde attacked many villages throughout that area. Brian gathers supplies from the plane crash and travels by foot until he finds and fixes a broken-down truck in a village he reaches. While driving, the truck gets stuck in a pothole as zombies close in. Daniel Dembele (Osei), a local African soldier gone AWOL in search of his son, rescues Brian from certain death. Daniel's wife had been killed in a zombie attack the previous night and a local military unit, heading north to a military base, had rescued his son. Daniel agrees to lead Brian to the nearest airport, a day's drive away, in exchange for his truck upon arrival for Daniel to use to find his son. At the airport, Brian attempts radioing for help using the air traffic tower's radio, but he receives no response. Daniel gathers fuel for the truck and the two agree it would be best to stick together and attempt travel to the military base, with Daniel hoping his son is there and Brian hoping they have a plane he can repair to fly back to the United States.
 
They rest for a night at a village that has been converted to a survival colony safeguarded by a group of local soldiers. They leave the following morning. While driving through the African plains, the truck hits a tree, breaking the axle and disabling the vehicle. Brian and Daniel continue on foot and sleep around a fire that night. A zombie horde attacks the group in their sleep, leaving Daniel bitten and badly wounded. They manage to shoot their way out of the attack and continue moving forward. Daniel tells Brian of a necklace he wears and that he planned to pass down to his son. Daniel succumbs to his wounds soon thereafter. Brian continues the trek alone to the northern military base. After an arduous journey through dangerous and rough terrain, Brian reaches the base, which has become a survival colony. He repairs an old radio unit in the base and broadcasts his name, managing to reach fellow American military officer Frank Greaves at a U.S. military base in Henderson, Nevada. It is revealed that the epidemic has reached the United States, which is rapidly failing to hold out. When Brian asks about his family, Frank informs him that "they're gone." Zombies invade the U.S. military base, ending the radio transmission. Brian goes back outside as zombies overwhelm the gates around the colony and begin killing all the survivors. At the last moment, Daniel's son approaches Brian, seeing his father's necklace in his hand. They hold hands and turn to face the overwhelming horde that approaches them.

 

 

 

 

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (2007)

 

        I need to make a confession, I like bad movies. I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you but it needed to be said before we talk about Flight of the Living Dead. Because this movie is the text book example of the movie so bad it’s awesome.

        The plot… wait, there’s a plot?

        The characters… I only remember the sexy black bald guy and the girl with the most exposed cleavage.

        The zombies… okay the zombies were well done. They weren’t the best zombies in modern movies but they were far from the worst. Also when they were coming through the floor of the plane like a whack-a-mole game in hell they were pretty cool.

        I will say one truly good thing about this movie, other than it being a fun watch. The production values are excellent, if they’d had a better script this could have been a great movie.

        I still love it though.

       

 

Synopsis
 
On a routine flight from Los Angeles to Paris, a renegade group of scientists has smuggled aboard a secret container holding a fellow scientist infected with a deadly genetically engineered virus which reanimates the dead. The virus is a variant of the malaria virus created by three scientists. They discovered and manufactured the virus with the intent of turning it into a biological weapon. Their goal was to produce soldiers who could continue fighting, even while mortally wounded. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids. The infected have superhuman abilities, sprinting and leaping beyond human capabilities. The zombies become very durable, and one particular zombie survives despite being thrown into a plane's engine.
 
The 747 jumbo jet encounters massive thunderstorms, and the turbulence releases one of the scientists from the cargo hold. Two of the scientists go below to ascertain if the container has been damaged by the turbulence, and are also killed, starting a zombie outbreak. The uninfected passengers must fight for survival aboard the flight. No government will allow the infected airliner to land, leaving the survivors stranded in the sky with their ravenous tormentors. Billy, his wife Anna, Burrows, Frank, Paul, and Megan, a stewardess aboard the plane, are all that are left of the uninfected people. They must make their way to the cockpit and signal a fighter jet behind them that there are still living people aboard the 747 or the fighter will destroy them. After managing to get the MP5K from the dead guard, Burrows, Frank and Billy make their way from the tail of the plane to the cockpit, while the couple stay behind. Billy is bitten but manages to kill some of the undead passengers, while Anna comes to help Billy she gets bitten but kills the Undead by thrusting an umbrella into its mouth. After that they both get surrounded, Billy opens the emergency exit and most of the infected get sucked out.
 
Frank and Burrows make it to the cockpit where Frank kills the zombie copilot and pilot, and the two of them try to get the plane off autopilot and signal the fighter which fires at them. They are ultimately successful and waggle the plane's wings, alerting the fighter. The fighter pilot hits the abort key and the missile explodes away from the 747, but close enough to the plane to open a hole in the side. All the zombies are apparently sucked out. Frank and Burrows try to control the plane, but hit a mountain and crash land near Vegas, Nevada. The movie ends with Megan, Burrows, Paul, and Frank moving toward the city. The final scenes shows that some of the zombies also survive the crash and lurch toward the city.

 

 

 

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

 

        The first adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic novella I Am Legend and made in Italy Last Man on Earth stars the amazing Vincent Price at the height of his awesomeness. This is a good movie, it has always boggled my mind that this flick wasn’t better known until Will Smith’s adaptation of the original source material.

        There have been claims that Romero was inspired by the Matheson story as well but I have never read or heard a definitive opinion on it. Regardless this is one you should consider looking at if you’ve never seen it.

 

Synopsis
 
In the year 1968, every day is the same for Dr. Robert Morgan (Price): he wakes up, gathers his weapons and then goes hunting for vampires. Morgan lives in a world where everyone else has been infected by a plague that has turned them into undeadvampiric creatures that cannot stand sunlight, fear mirrors, and are repelled by garlic. They would kill Morgan if they could, but fortunately, they are weak and unintelligent. At night, Morgan locks himself inside his house; during the day, he kills as many vampires as he can, burning the bodies.
 
flashback sequence explains that, three years before, Morgan's wife and daughter had succumbed to the plague, before it was widely known by the public that the dead would return to life. Instead of taking his wife to the same public burn pit used to dispose of his daughter's corpse, Morgan buried her without the knowledge of the authorities. When his wife returned to his home and attacked him, Morgan became aware of the need to kill the plague victims with a wooden stake. Morgan hypothesizes that he is immune to the bacteria because he was bitten by an infected vampire bat when he was stationed in Panama, which introduced a diluted form of the plague into his blood.
 
One day, a dog appears in the neighborhood. Desperate for companionship, Morgan chases after the dog but does not catch it. Sometime later, the dog appears, wounded, at Morgan's doorstep. He takes the dog into his home and treats its wounds, looking forward to having company for the first time in three years. He quickly discovers, however, that it too has become infected with the plague. Morgan is later seen burying the dog, which he has impaled with a wooden stake.
 
After burying the dog Morgan spots a woman in the distance. The woman, Ruth, is terrified of Morgan at first sight, and runs from him. Morgan convinces her to return to his home, but is suspicious of her true nature. Ruth becomes ill when Morgan waves garlic in her face, but claims that she has a weak stomach.
 
Morgan's suspicion that Ruth is infected is confirmed when he discovers her attempting to inject herself with a combination of blood and vaccine that holds the disease at bay. Ruth initially draws a gun on Morgan, but surrenders it to him. Ruth then tells him that she is part of a group of people like her — infected but under treatment — and was sent to spy on Morgan. The vaccine allows the people to function normally with the drug in the bloodstream, but once it wears off, the infection takes over the body again. Ruth explains that her people are planning to rebuild society as they destroy the remaining vampires, and that many of the vampires Morgan killed were technically still alive.
 
While Ruth is asleep, Morgan transfuses his own blood into her. She is immediately cured, and Morgan sees hope that, together, they can cure the rest of her people. Moments later, however, Ruth's people attack. Morgan takes the gun and flees his home while the attackers kill the vampires gathered around Morgan's home.
 
Ruth's people spot Morgan and chase him. He exchanges gunfire with them, and picks up tear gas grenades from a police station armory along the way. While the tear gas delays his pursuers somewhat, Morgan is wounded by gunfire and retreats into a church. Despite Ruth's protests to let Morgan live, his pursuers finally impale him on the altar with a spear. With his dying breaths, Morgan denounces his pursuers as "freaks," and declares that he is the last true man on earth.

 

 

 

 

Quarantine (2008)

 

        I saw this movie with my oldest son at the dollar theater, although the tickets cost more than a dollar now. Frankly I think that’s fraud and I am considering burning the building down.

        Forget you read that.

        I think the only reason we wanted to see it was because we had some weird attraction to Jennifer Carpenter. I’m not saying a I watched the Dexter porn parody because the actress playing Deb looked a lot like Jennifer Carpenter but I’m not saying a I didn’t either.

        I left the theater pissed off.

        I hate nihilistic endings. I have no problem with a massive body count in a zombie movie but for the love of Tesla leave the door cracked for a potential positive conclusion. That final scene left you with no doubt that she was a dead woman. Even Dawn of the Dead (2004), the worst offender in this trend of nihilistic endings, left a sliver of hope.

        I didn’t watch it again for a year.

        When I saw Quarantine again, honestly because I had nothing better to do, I went in with a new perspective. I watched the movie not as a zombie apocalypse movie but instead as the initial point of outbreak, I know that sound like a technical bit of nonsense but it made a difference. Looking at it that way I really liked it.

        The acting is good, the scares are plentiful, and the pacing is fast. Also Jennifer Carpenter in a wife beater… yeah.

 

Synopsis
 
A television reporter named Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman Scott Percival (Steve Harris) are assigned to follow firefighters Jake (Jay Hernandez) and Fletcher (Johnathon Schaech) on their night shift. The crew responds to an emergency call from an apartment building. The apartment manager Yuri (Rade Sherbedgia) says that he and other residents heard screams from the room of an old woman named Mrs. Espinoza (Jeannie Epper), who has locked herself in her apartment. Jake, Fletcher, Yuri, police officers Danny (Columbus Short) and James (Andrew Fiscella), and the camera crew go to the apartment, where they find Mrs. Espinoza in serious condition. She is bleeding severely and foaming at the mouth. Moments later, they are attacked by Espinoza who bites James in the neck. They take him downstairs for medical assistance, while Fletcher stays with a now sedated Mrs. Espinoza upstairs. However, when they get downstairs, they find the apartment doors have been locked from the outside, leaving everyone, including several residents, trapped inside. Upstairs, Fletcher is attacked by Mrs. Espinoza and thrown from the railing to the ground, leaving him in serious condition. Lawrence (Greg Germann), a veterinarian, starts tending to the injured as best as possible.
 
Angela and Scott return to Espinoza's apartment where they witness the cleaning woman die. Jake and Danny show up and find Espinoza, with blood on her mouth and dress and her eyes bleeding. She charges at them, but Danny shoots and seemingly kills her. Jake, Scott, and Angela head room to room to bring down anymore guests; they bring down Randy (Denis O'Hare), Jwahir (Sharon Ferguson) and Nadif (Jermaine Jackson) (an African couple who don't speak English), and Elise (Stacy Chbosky), a woman who has many similar symptoms as Mrs. Espinoza.
 
The residents begin to panic as the CDC quarantines the building. Meanwhile, Angela interviews the tenants. A little girl named Briana (Joey King) is sick with bronchitis and says that her dog Max is at the vet because he's sick as well. After the interviews, Lawrence explains more about the conditions of Fletcher, Elise, and James as they all have symptoms similar to those of rabies, however, presenting themselves at an alarming rate.
 
Angela and Scott follow residents Bernard (Bernard White) and Sadie (Dania Ramirez) back to their apartment to check the TV news. On the way, they witness Randy being killed by a dog who corners him in the elevator. Once inside the room, they watch the televised report where the Chief of Police (Michael Potter) states to a news reporter (Jane Park Smith) that everyone has been evacuated from the building, then the power goes out. Elise appears, turns violent and starts attacking the others, but Scott bashes her head in repeatedly with his camera, killing her.
 
While going over the status of the tenants, Danny learns that Randy and the cleaning lady are dead, Jwahir has a paralytic father living with her and Nadif in their apartment, and a man from Boston that rented the attic apartment hasn't been seen for days. Two CDC Agents (Craig Susser and Bert Jernigan) wearing hazmat suits arrive and attempt to treat Fletcher and the policeman by taking a brain sample. Suddenly, Fletcher attacks and bites one of the inspectors. While evacuating, Lawrence is trapped with the infected and is bitten.
 
The surviving health inspector reveals that the previous day, a dog was taken to a local veterinarian. The dog became violent and killed or infected the other pets at the clinic, causing them to be euthanized. The CDC traced the dog back to the apartment building. The CDC Agent tells the residents that this unknown but highly virulent disease turns people into bloodthirsty savages. Angela discovers that the infected dog was Briana's dog, Max. The remaining survivors become skeptical that Briana's illness is actually bronchitis. Suddenly, Briana becomes savage as well and bites her mother Kathy (Marin Hinkle) before escaping upstairs. Kathy is handcuffed to the stair railing to stop her from trying to protect Briana.
 
Angela, Scott, Jake and Danny find Briana in Mrs. Espinoza's apartment. When Danny attempts to sedate the girl, Briana bites him. Mrs. Espinoza, who survived the earlier shooting, then attacks. She is finally killed by Jake with a sledgehammer. They rush downstairs only to find everyone else running upstairs in fear, for they find the infected have broken through the shutter. Jake tries to close the shutter, as Angela tries to free Kathy. When they can't find the key, Jake drags Angela upstairs leaving Kathy to die by the infected. As everyone runs upstairs, Jwahir and Nadif are both separated and bitten.
 
Angela, Jake, Scott, Sadie, Bernard, Yuri, his wife Wanda (Elaine Kagan), and the CDC Agent lock themselves in an empty apartment. The CDC Agent locks himself in an adjacent room when he realizes he has been bitten. They also realize Sadie has been bitten when they notice she is eating her own fingers and soon after coughs up blood on herself. Bernard pleads with them not to kill Sadie, and out of desperation, attempts to break through the apartment window to call for help, but he is killed by a sniper positioned in a building across the street from the apartment. Yuri remembers another way out in the basement, where there is a large drain that is connected to the sewers, but the keys are in his apartment. Suddenly, the health inspector and Sadie succumb to the infection and bite Yuri and Wanda. As they try to escape, they must fight off the infected as they work toward Yuri's apartment as Jake uses the sledgehammer on the dog in the elevator. After Jake and Scott break Sadie's neck, the group reaches Yuri's apartment and find his key ring. Jake is bitten by Yuri, leaving Angela and Scott as the only survivors. Rather than making their way to the basement, they are forced upstairs to the attic apartment by Danny and the remaining infected.
 
They search the apartment and discover that its former tenant was a member of a doomsday cult who broke into a chemical weapons lab and stole a mutated rabies virus. As Angela and Scott continue through the apartment, a door opens from the attic and Scott uses the light on the camera to investigate. An infected boy (Benjamin Stockham) swats at the camera, breaking the light. Scott turns on the camera's night vision. Scott and Angela hear loud banging noises inside the apartment. When Scott looks around, he sees a ghoulishly emaciated man (Doug Jones) searching the kitchen area unaware of Angela and Scott's presence. Scott tries to escape but trips and is viciously attacked, dropping the camera. Angela retrieves it and sees the man eating Scott. Unable to control herself, she cries out and is subsequently attacked, dropping the camera in the process. Strangely unharmed, as the attack deflected off the camera, she crawls slowly through the darkness for almost ten seconds, in a vain attempt to escape. Suddenly, she is dragged backwards by her legs into the dark, screaming as the camera continues recording.

 

 

 

 

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

 

        What am I supposed to say about Shaun of the Dead?

        This movie is one of the best Zombie movies ever made. For that matter it is one of the best comedies ever made AND maybe one of the best movies ever.

        If you’ve never seen it shame on you.

 

Synopsis
 
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is an electronics shop employee with no direction in life. His younger colleagues show him no respect, he has a difficult relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy), and a tense one with his housemate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun's other housemate and crude, unemployed best friend. Furthermore, Shaun's girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), dislikes their social life, as they primarily spend every evening at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed's favorite pub; they never do anything alone together; Shaun always brings Ed, causing Liz to always bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis).
After a miserable day at work, Shaun meets an old friend, Yvonne (Jessica Hynes), who asks what he and Liz are doing for their anniversary; having forgotten to book a table at Liz's favorite restaurant, Shaun suggests the Winchester, leading Liz to break up with him. Shaun drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester. They return home late and spin electro records, only to be interrupted by an enraged Pete, who is suffering a headache after being attacked and bitten by "some crackheads." Pete confronts Shaun on his flaws, telling him to sort his life out.
 
The next morning, an overnight zombie apocalypse has overwhelmed the town, but Shaun is too busy dealing with his problems and hangover to notice. He and Ed discover a zombie woman in their back yard, but assume she is just drunk, until she survives being impaled on a pipe. A fat zombie man also makes his way into the garden. Shaun and Ed flee inside, and learn from a news report the only way to kill a zombie is "by removing the head or destroying the brain". First fighting back with random objects and Shaun's records, Shaun and Ed arm themselves with a cricket bat and a shovel after breaking into their own locked shed. They kill the two zombies in the yard and by a process of elimination decide the safest place to wait out the crisis is the Winchester.
 
Shaun discovers a now zombified Pete in the shower, so he and Ed escape in Pete's car. They find Shaun's mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and Phillip - who has been bitten - and switch cars after Ed deliberately crashes Pete's car in order to drive Phillip's Jaguar. They head over to Liz, Dianne, and David's flat and collect them. Before they make it to the Winchester, Phillip dies of his bite, after making peace with Shaun. Abandoning the car as Phillip zombifies, they set off on foot, bumping into Yvonne and her group of survivors. Imitating the zombies, they sneak over to the pub; however, Ed and Shaun get into an argument that alerts the zombies. David smashes the window while Shaun leads the zombies away. The five take refuge in the pub, and Shaun joins them after losing the zombies.
 
Several hours later, zombies converge on the pub. Shaun discovers the Winchester rifle above the bar is functional and they use it to fend off the zombies. Barbara reveals she was bitten along the way and dies, becomes a zombie, and after David antagonizes the situation, resulting in a Mexican standoff, the heart broken Shaun is forced to shoot Barbara. David is disemboweled and dismembered by the zombies after he attempts to shoot Shaun with the empty rifle; causing a frantic Dianne to unbolt the door to rescue him, disappearing into the crowd of zombies. Ed prepares a Molotov cocktail to fend them off, but Pete arrives and bites him. He manages to get over the bar and Shaun uses the cocktail to set fire to the bar, accidentally setting off the remaining rifle ammunition. They escape into the cellar, in which they contemplate suicide, but discover a service hatch to ground level. Shaun and Liz escape through the hatch as Ed stays behind with the rifle. Back on the street, as Shaun and Liz prepare to fight the zombies, the British Army arrives and guns down the remaining zombies, rescuing them. Yvonne, who has also survived, shows up and tells Shaun and Liz to follow her. They approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.
 
Six months after the outbreak, the uninfected have returned to daily life, while the leftover zombies, retaining their instincts, are used as cheap labor and entertainment. Liz has moved in with Shaun, and Shaun is keeping Ed, now a zombie, tethered in the shed while playing video games.

 

 

 

 

Zombi 2 (1979)

 

        Another Italian entry to the zombie genre this one is an unofficial companion movie to Dawn of the Dead (1979). In Europe Dawn is known as Zombi. I have a love/hate relationship with this one.

        On one hand it has some seriously iconic zombie moments. The zombie vs. shark battle, which for what it’s worth I still think the shark should have won, the army of zombies marching down the George Washington Bridge, and of course the infamous eye impalement scene.

        Considering my phobias that last one bothers me.

        But that is all outweighed by some of the dumbest people in the history of zombie films. Seriously our ‘heroes’ all deserve to die.

        But it’s a fun movie and every zombie fan, especially those of you who love the gore, should see it.

 

Synopsis
 
What appears to be an abandoned yacht drifts into New York Harbor. As two Harbor Patrol officers investigate, a huge, decomposing, flesh-hungry ghoul attacks the officers, biting one in the neck. The remaining officer shoots the hulking zombie and it topples overboard. The body of the deceased officer is deposited in the morgue.
 
Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow) is questioned by the police because the boat belonged to her father (Ugo Bologna). All she knows is that her father left for a tropical island to work on some research. Reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is assigned by his news editor (director Lucio Fulci in a cameo) to report on the mysterious boat and there he meets Anne. While on the boat, Anne and Peter discover a note from her father explaining he is on the island of Matool (Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands) suffering from a strange disease. They decide to continue to investigate together. Upon their arrival in the tropics, they enlist the aid of a seafaring couple, Bryan Curt (Al Cliver aka Pier Luigi Conti) and Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay), to assist them in finding the island.
 
Matool is a cursed place where the dead have risen to attack the living. Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson), a resident on the island and physician at the local mission, is investigating its secrets. His contemptuous, high-strung wife Paola (Olga Karlatos) wants to leave the island in fear of the increasing zombie attacks, but Dr. Menard insists on continuing his research.
 
The group is nearing the island when Susan decides to go for a dive. Anne and Peter look on as she brazenly goes into the water topless. While in the water, Susan encounters a shark, which tries to attack her, but she manages to hide among the coral reefs. She immediately surfaces and begs for help as the shark prepares to attack her. Bryan gets a gun and shoots the shark, but the shark hits the boat, causing them to lose control. Susan dives under again and tries to escape, and the shark narrowly misses her in its attack. As she is hiding in a coral reef, however, a zombie attacks her, but she manages to avoid the creature by slashing its water-bloated face with a piece of coral. The shark then turns and attacks the zombie, which proceeds to tear a chunk out of the shark; the two creatures battle until the shark mangles and severs the zombie's arm, after which the shark swims away, while the zombie seemingly gives up and heads in the opposite direction.
 
Susan manages to get on the boat as Anne, Peter and Bryan help her. She explains what she saw to them. Meanwhile, Dr. Menard and his nurse (Stefania D'Amario) continue to study the zombies. Some of them are newly bitten, some are in the zombiefication stage and some are already decomposing. Menard's local assistant Lucas (Dakar) appears at the door, says that the zombies are attacking everyone on the island, and asks how to kill the zombies.
 
Night falls and Menard's wife, Paola, takes a shower. The camera shows a zombie spying on her from outside the house. Paola gets out of the shower and sees the zombie. The zombie comes in and tries to open the door just as Paola is trying to close it. She manages to close the door and holds it shut with her body. The zombie's hands break through the door and grab her hair. In possibly the most famous scene from the movie, Paola's eye is pierced by a large splintered piece of wood and she is then killed off-camera.
The boat finally arrives at the dock. Back at the hospital the nurse wakes Dr. Menard from a deep sleep. She tells him that Matthias (Franco Fantasia) has died because of the infection. Dr. Menard waits for his friend's body to reanimate, then shoots him in the head. As Lucas is digging the graves of Matthias and the others that have died from the contagion, he sees a flare gun fire. He follows it and discovers the crew from the boat. Dr. Menard tells Anne about her father and when the contagion started. As they arrive, Lucas says that something happened to Fritz (Leo Gavero). He tells the group to go to his mansion, where Paola is located. He approaches Fritz and he says that he has been bitten.
 
The group arrive at the mansion where they discover the horribly mutilated corpse of Paola being hungrily devoured by zombies. A swarm of zombies attack them but they escape. They get in the jeep but lose control and drive off the road. Peter's knee is badly hurt. The group traverse through the jungle. Peter takes a rest and Anne examines his wound. Susan and Bryan explore their surroundings, and Bryan finds an old helmet. It appears that the group have stumbled onto a Spanish cemetery. Anne and Peter are lying on the ground and proceed to have an ill-timed love session when a zombie grabs her hair and another zombie grabs Peter's foot. Bryan hears Anne's scream; he leaves Susan to follow it. In another famous scene, a petrified Susan watches in horror as an ominous, worm-infested zombie conquistador rises through the earth, lunges at her, and tears out her throat. Bryan saves Anne and Peter but fails to save Susan. He shoots the rotting zombie in the back twice but it still stands, until Peter grabs a nearby wooden cross and smashes the zombie's head, destroying it. The group then head back to the hospital.
 
More and more zombies rise from their graves. The group finally arrive at the hospital and barricade themselves inside. Dr. Menard asks what happened to Paola and is told that she is dead. Dr. Menard explains to them that a voodoo curse has made the dead rise. He says he is still searching for a way to stop the curse. The zombies then begin their assault on the hospital. Dr. Menard goes to look for bullets, but is attacked and killed by a reanimated Fritz. Bryan sees the attack and shoots the rabid Fritz in the head as he ravenously gnaws on the doctor's cheek. The people who have been infected in the hospital begin to reanimate. A frothing black zombie bites a huge chunk of flesh and muscle out of Lucas' forearm. Lucas lets out a blood curdling scream, then silently dies of his horrific injury while the zombies start attacking the nurse. Peter hears her scream and tries to help her but a zombie breaks out the window. Peter shoots the zombie. He helps the nurse and continues his defense against the undead. The nurse goes to get some supplies but a reanimated Lucas grabs and bites her.
 
The zombies finally destroy the main door and break in. Peter and Bryan shoot at the zombies while Anne throws Molotov cocktails at them. They manage to stop some of the zombies and escape the hospital, which is now burning down. The last of the group are on the road heading to the boat and destroying more zombies, but a reanimated, blood-caked Susan appears in front of Bryan and bites his arm. Peter shoots the reanimated Susan in the head. They reach the boat and sail away. Now out at sea, Bryan is showing bad signs of contagion. He dies and they lock him in one of the rooms on the boat, taking the reanimated Bryan with them as evidence. When they reach the open ocean, however, they receive a radio report that a plague of zombies has attacked New York City. As the credits roll, the zombies are walking on the Brooklyn Bridge, leaving Peter and Anne to an unknown fate.

 

 

 

Zombieland (2009)

 

        In his forward to the reissue of The Danse Macabre, Stephen King was cautiously optimistic about the upcoming movie Zombieland. But ultimately he feared it would be a stupid film. I hope he was pleasantly surprised by the end product.

        Zombieland is the American Shaun of the Dead and I mean that in all of the best ways. The movie is funny, scary, touching, and thoughtful all in one package. I’ve seen it at least 20 times and it never feels old to me.

        Now nut up or shut up!

 

Synopsis
 
Two months have passed since a mutated strain of mad cow disease mutated into "mad person disease" that became "mad zombie disease" which overran the entire United States population, turning American people into vicious zombies. Unaffected college student "Columbus" (Jesse Eisenberg) is making his way from his college dorm in Austin, Texas to Columbus, Ohio to see whether his parents are still alive. He encounters "Tallahassee" (Woody Harrelson), another survivor who is particularly violent in killing zombies. Though he does not appear to be sociable, Tallahassee reluctantly allows Columbus to travel with him. Tallahassee mentions he misses his "puppy" that was killed by zombies, as well as his affinity for Twinkies, which he actively tries to find. Survivors of the zombie epidemic have learned that it is best not to grow attached to other survivors, because they could die at any moment, so many have taken to using their city of origin as nicknames, i.e. "Columbus" is from Columbus, Ohio.
 
The pair meet "Wichita" (Emma Stone) and her younger sister "Little Rock" (Abigail Breslin) in a grocery store. The sisters are con artists, and trick Tallahassee and Columbus into handing over their weapons by pretending that Little Rock was infected by the disease, then steal their Escalade. The two men find a yellow Hummer H2 loaded with weapons and go after the sisters. However, the girls spring another trap for them and take them hostage. Tallahassee steals his gun back and has a stand-off with Wichita, until Columbus lashes out in anger that they have bigger problems to worry about, resulting in an uneasy truce between them. The sisters reveal that they are going to the "Pacific Playland" amusement park in Los Angeles, an area supposedly free of zombies. After learning his home town has been destroyed, and his parents likely killed, Columbus decides to accompany the others to California. Along the trip, Columbus persists in trying to impress and woo Wichita.
 
When the group reaches Hollywood, Tallahassee directs them to Bill Murray's mansion. Tallahassee and Wichita meet Murray himself, uninfected but disguised as a zombie so he can walk safely around town (and play golf). Murray is killed when Columbus shoots him, mistaking him for a real zombie during a practical joke while watching Ghostbusters with Little Rock. Columbus realizes during a game of Monopoly that Tallahassee has not been grieving for his dog, but rather for his young son. Wichita becomes increasingly attracted to Columbus, and Tallahassee bonds with Little Rock, with whom he was previously at odds. Despite Wichita's attraction to Columbus, she fears attachment and leaves with Little Rock for Pacific Playland the next morning. Columbus decides to go after Wichita, and convinces Tallahassee to join him.
 
At Pacific Playland, the sisters activate all the rides and lights, attracting nearby zombies. A chase ensues, and just as the sisters are trapped on a drop tower ride called Blast Off, Tallahassee and Columbus arrive. Tallahassee lures the zombies away from the tower, creating a distraction for Columbus to get to the tower ride; both use the attractions to their advantage. Tallahassee eventually locks himself in a game booth, shooting zombies left and right. Columbus successfully evades and shoots through several zombies to reach the tower, but not before conquering some of his phobias and even changing one of his rules of survival. In thanks, Wichita kisses Columbus and reveals her real name, Krista; Little Rock gives Tallahassee a Twinkie. Columbus realizes he now has what he's always wanted: a family.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions

 

        There are also zombie movies I love to watch but I just don’t consider them as influences on me. They include but are by no means limited to these films and series. Every one of these movies, good and bad, are worth watching.

{C}·         Brain Dead

{C}·         CHUD (The first and NOT the second)

{C}·         Evil Dead Series

{C}·         Horror Express

{C}·         I, Am Legend

{C}·         Night of the Comet

{C}·         Night of the Creeps

{C}·         Quarantine 2

{C}·         Reanimator Series

{C}·         Resident Evil Series

{C}·         Return of the Living Dead Series

{C}·         The Crazies (2010)

{C}·         The Omega Man

{C}·         Warm Bodies

{C}·         Zombie Diaries Series

 

What about World War Z?

 

        I was just about to finish this one when I realized I never mentioned the highest grossing zombie film of all time. This would of course be the 2013 adaptation of the Max Brook classic World War Z.

        Well I’m not gonna talk about it, at least not yet.

        I started to write about WWZ when I realized that after George Romero no other creator has contributed more to the genre than Max Brooks. With that being a bona fide fact I’ve decided Mr. Brooks needs his own installment in which I will cover his entire spectrum of work.

 

 

        And that’s it for part 3 boils and ghouls. Next time we’ll delve into zombies in the print world, excluding Max Brooks stuff. So until next time keep your back to the wall and your ammo dry.

 

 

 

 

-Josh

 

 

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Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!