I’ve been sitting through a rather dry academic conference for much of the last week as part of my day job, and during some of the more boring presentations, my mind has been wandering off towards zombies, and specifically, what my ideal line up would be for a zombie film festival. I don’t know quite why this idea entered my head, but it did and it stuck. This meant I ended up getting drawn into the idea of what exactly I’d have in it.
My starting point was what theme I’d use. After all, as with any filmfest, I’d need something to connect all the films together. At first, I thought about arranging films in some sort of temporal order, such as the years in which they were made, starting with something like Romero’s first film, Dawn of the Dead, or maybe even going as far back as White Zombie, and taking it all way through to World War Z, hitting various key films in between.
Soon, however, I gave that idea up as being too predictable, and I moved onto the idea of arranging them by the speed of the zombies. This, too, might start with Dawn of the Dead (the original version) and end with World War Z, but in between, and in this order, might be Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead (the remake) and 28 Days Later. This would be more quirky, but still rather obvious.
Finally, I figured I could just do it by selecting films which I thought had brought something new to the genre. This would not only allow the inclusion of full length classics from the silver screen, but also some of the best shorts from YouTube. This, then, was where I began, and from there I started picking the films I’d feature and the order I’d shown them in. Interested in what I came up with? Well, here’s what my fictitious film festival would look like:
1. Dawn of the Dead (original version): This is the one that kick-started the modern zombie film genre, so it was always going to be a good place to start.
2. Shaun of the Dead: The film that launched the zom-rom-com genre (and indeed ended it, too!).
3. Cargo: For those not familiar with Cargo, this is a short film which has a truly unique take on how a father can best look after his baby daughter in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
4. Dawn of the Dead (remake): While 28 Days Later brought the idea of fast zombies to the fore in the zombie genre, they weren’t really zombies, so I’m putting the remake of Dawn of the Dead in here because it marks the acceptance of the idea that true zombies can be fast and not just slow.
5. Steadfast Stanley: This is a great little, heart-warming film which take views the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a dog looking for his young master, and it offers a very unique perspective on such events.
6. The Crazies: While most zombie films concentrate on a disease being the cause of a zombie apocalypse, The Crazies takes a different route and thinks about it being caused by chemicals leaching into the water supply of a small town.
7. Zombieland: While Shaun of the Dead was also comedy, it was an homage to its near namesake. Zombieland was more unique, particularly with its tongue-in-cheek breaking of the fourth wall to deliver its iconic rules and its brilliant cameo by Bill Murray.
8. 28 Days Later: This was always going to be the final film in any list I put together, but not only is it my favourite film in the genre, it also re-invigorated the whole genre itself. Without it, there would probably have been no Dawn of the Dead remake, no The Walking Dead and no World War Z (book or film). Yes, it’s not a true zombie film since the rage-infected humans aren’t true undead, but nonetheless it falls squarely within the genre and it stands as a major landmark in the development of zombie films. Of course, it’s also a great way to end any night!
So there we have it, eight films all of which I feel have brought something new to the zombie genre. I’m sure others would select a different set of films, and for different reasons, but taken together I think they’d make for an interesting, and hopefully thought-provoking, day of zombie action.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.