They are, by nature, neither dead nor alive. Some stumble, some run. They’re all hungry. Some of them want brains, others seem to be content to tuck into any old body part.
They are, of course, zombies, and I’ve had enough of them. I call for death – proper death, without any of that ‘rising-to-walk-the-earth’ nonsense – to zombies in all their forms, genders and species.
It would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my byline to hear that I’m a big fan of horror films. And when I say a big fan, I mean that my Netflix algorithm is now so skewed to horror it looks like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein are personally curating it for me. And yet zombies just do not do it for me.
Zombies have to be the most overused, most boring, most lazy trope in the whole horror genre. The zombie, as an entity, has been used well precisely once, in Dawn Of The Dead, by zombie master George Romero. A sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, a film which is groundbreaking for its black heroic lead and yet no fun to watch, Dawn Of The Dead, released in 1978 (and pointlessly remade in 2004) refined the template Romero had created a decade earlier, setting its action in a shopping mall and thus using the brain-dead blunderers to comment on the wave of mindless consumerism sweeping contemporary American society.
Every zombie film since has, essentially, done exactly the same thing, but less cleverly, commenting on something less apt, and minus the scene where a helicopter takes the top of a zombie’s head off, which is the best bit.
Because really, all zombies are is an animalistic avatar for the human condition stripped of social niceties, allowing directors to pontificate on our flawed species like they’re William Shakespeare. As Romero proved, and as Danny Boyle saw, and as the author John Wyndham found with his Day Of The Triffids – not even a zombie film, just a story about murderous plants because it doesn’t even matter – there can be no plot resolution in a zombie film, just grudging can’t-live-with-’em, can’t-live-without-’em acceptance of a ‘New World Order’ that involves two classes of human: one with brains and one that sees brains as breakfast.
It’s a truth being borne out in excruciating tedium in the series The Walking Dead, which – I find to my displeasure – is apparently still stumbling on. I gave up on it some years ago when approximately half a series was spent in an unresolved search for a missing child who I’d have presumed to have been eaten had I cared enough to ponder it.
And not only is that series still (limply) doing the business, it’s spawned a raft of spin-off series set to stumble into your streaming carousels like so many unwanted undead versions of your Aunt Margaret.
Here’s a tip for any director planning a post-modern take on the zombie genre. Just. Fucking. Don’t. We’ve had them all. We’ve had Shaun Of The Dead (the – puke – ‘zom-rom-com’), we’ve had Zombieland (zombie movie-as-Bill Murray-hipster-bait), we’ve had 28 Days Later (zombies: but fast this time!), The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch showing off about his famous friends by making them into zombies), Zombie Flesh Eaters (zombie swims with sharks off a tropical island) and even Zombie Shark: The Swimming Dead for those who enjoyed Zombie Flesh Eaters and wished the shark was a zombie too.
We’ve had World War Z, an action epic with zombies, we’ve had Pride & Prejudice And Zombies, a costume drama with zombies. We have had every possible type of zombie except – for more than 40 years – one that’s worth your time.
Enough with the zombies. I believe a headshot finishes them off…