Thursday, 19 January 2012

Top 5 Zombie Movies That Have Actual SCARY Zombies

I know, I know, zombies are dead. Wait, I don’t mean like that, like they are the walking dead. I mean that the zombie fad has come and gone and our numbskull friends are once again put to rest while the movie world movies on to other horror houses like vampires or ghosts.

Sure, there have been enough zombie films made over the past decade to make an impressive undead army, but really, only a handful have stuck, and most of these are ones that take the mickey out of the genre (see Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland). But why have zombies faded away once again? Scouring the depths of classic zombie flicks, I think I may have found an answer; Modern zombies just are not scary.

To prove my point, here are 5 classic zombie films where the living dead succeed in making a nice new home in your nightmares.
5. The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

This is an odd Italian zombie film set in Manchester that manages to spend the majority of its time A) not in Manchester Morgue, and B) featuring the living dead. However, once these guys strike, with their painfully slow and lumbering ways, suddenly, you know why the film used them as a selling point. These guys feel like terminally ill hospital patients have got up from their beds and are slowly following you, purely with the intention of making you shit yourself. The iconic bandage zombie almost has regret in his eyes, as he nibbles your innards.
4. Return of the Living Dead

It must be said, pretty much all ‘fast’ zombies are not scary. A fear of a crazed crowd is different from a fear of mindless undead. The only exception to this ‘speed does not equal fear’ rule is Return of the Living Dead (with a big shout out to Peter Jackson’s Braindead, or Dead Alive, for the yanks). Why is it that these guys are the exception? Because they are dead, but they aren’t dumb (“Send more paramedics”), and by mixing a fixation of brain munching with intelligence and speed, we are placed dead centre of a situation we just cannot find our way out of. If you can’t outrun them or outsmart them, then how the hell do you defeat them!? I guess chop them up in to little bits, right? Oh, I forgot to mention, they literally will not stop moving. If you cut them up in to bits, the bits will keep trying to get to your cerebral cortex. Fine, incinerate the bits. What’s that? The smoke from the incineration will raise more ghouls? Well, fuck you then.
3. The Evil Dead

Here are some dead heads brought back by an evil curse, where they possess the friends of our big chinned (and hopefully some day, lover) Bruce Campbell. We are stuck in a remote cabin in the woods, and the only bridge back to civilisation is mysteriously destroyed. These ghouls possess the friends, one person at a time, drawing out the torment, letting us know that we are inevitably next. Though Campbell takes out each threat as it comes, there is an inevitable defeat in the making when you realise that they are pretty much letting him win, like a cat will let a mouse run a few feet before crushing it. Like our Return of the Living Dead zombies, they won’t stop if you cut them to pieces. Nope, these guys are simply here to fuck with your mind, destroying all your hopes and desire one pencil in the Achilles at a time.
2. Zombi 2/Zombie Flesh Eaters

The Italians really know how to do a good dead walker. This time, they are confined to the shores of a Caribbean island, not that that stops them from being creepy as hell. These guys are not just the slow variety. They are the ‘paint might be drying faster’ kind. And there in lies the terror. You let down your guard because you know you can walk by them no problem, but then, forgetting any lesson you might have learned from the tortoise and the hare, you stop and have a picnic (or tend to broken ankles, whichever applies to you), and then WHAM, zombie attack. They are still as slow as ever, but you long ago phased them out as ‘oh, those nuisance I will never have to worry about’, until fifty of them surround you, all seemingly still yet suffocating you at the same time. Watching the walkers in Fulci’s masterpiece, you could be mistaken for thinking he just brought in a lot of crazy people. There is something seriously not right in their eyes.
1.      Day of the Dead

This is one of my favourite films, so I’m kind of cheating by giving it number one. Then again, this is my blog, so my rules. In this film, the dead have, for all intensive purposes, taken over the world, and some of the few human survivors are held up in an underground storage complex, where their biggest foe is the tension between each other. They can just about keep the zombies out up above, but they have to let a few in below for essential experiments. Director George Romero openly allows us to mock the undead individually or in small numbers and actually tries to make one of them our friend, completely undermining what thirty years of horror films had told us about the ghouls. When the shit goes down (as is wont to happen in a zombie movie), our hundreds of slow moving reanimated dead come at handful of people from all angles, and suddenly, those goofs you were teaching to shave are now turning on you like a rabid dog unexpectedly attacking its owner. There is nowhere to turn, as any way door you open, there is another hoard, just waiting. These guys aren’t smart, just driven by instinct. They know there is strength in numbers, and they know they want food. Our heroes run and even use electric carts to try escape the dead, but down in the underground complex, it is a losing battle. And THAT is terrifying.

Zombies have been done to death (boom boom), and we probably won’t see much of them for a very long time, but if there’s one lesson we can learn from all this, it’s that you cannot keep a good dead head down. What do you think? What zombie movies have terrified you?