You have to love zombie flicks. They are almost all good, if not great. As a genre, compare zombies to almost any other genre of recent movie history: Iraq War, graphic comics, remakes of old television shows ... and zombies rule. Well, okay, maybe I was the only one of my friends to see Shaun of the Dead three times, but I still consider myself to be a neutral judge of all things movie.
And, let me say loud and proud, in the zombie sub-genre of spoofdom, Zombieland is the current champion, edging out any other by a traumatic amputation or two.
I've come to some Zombotic conclusions as to why the genre is so strong: The living dead are inherently funny. Any costume works with the living dead. Zombies can be easily used for satiric reference to any issue of the day. Most importantly, directors know that anything goes with Zombies.
Zombieland expands all things Zombic to include little undead girls at a birthday party. To this moviegoer a refreshing statement against the kind of ageism noted in previous zombie movies.
Zombies provide comic possibilities because, in our modern age, I am fairly certain that they don't really exist. Although, as we see more and more television newsreaders, U.S. Senators, and Hollywood stars over fifteen Botoxed into waxworks, can anyone really be sure?
There is the inherent ease in killing zombies, allowing directors comic latitude in devising zombic demises. They are, for the most part, unsympathetic. There is no undead interest group to picket theaters. They are ravenous noshing machines looking for double McHumans with cheese (no onions), so anything goes. Most of us have little empathy for the undead. How they are dispatched to wherever zombies go (Congress?) is a big part of the fun.
Zombieland includes the 'Zombie Kill of the Week' competition, the winner: a sweet old nun. I would have voted for her too.
Axes, clubs, flame throwers, baseball bats, tire irons, chain saws, swords, Bowie knives, concrete blocks, electrocutions, explosives ... zombie killers all. De rigueur in any self respecting zombie flick.
But, by far, the preferred means of dispatching zombies is good old American firepower. I demand an investigation into whether the NRA surreptitiously funds zombie movies as part of their 'a semi automatic in every room of the house' strategy. I demand a Congressional committee investigate the blatant product placement in these movies by the Colt Firearm Company. I charge that the Charlton Heston estate is allowing free use of his arsenal and Faceook page to promote zombie movies with head shot counts of 200+. In zombie movies the zombie death meter has reached 200+ by second reel. Such is the power of Ben Hur.
There is no such thing as a single zombie. Zombies come in packs. They appear only in swarms, pods, herds, flocks, colonies, troops, droves, and clowders. Single zombies have no chance. They are dispatched with contempt.
Zombies are slow: anyone can out run them. They shuffle or lumber. Zombies are dumb: they walk into any trap; they can't tell the difference between semi automatic or automatic weaponry; pro zombie movies rarely even make it to cable.
I could go on.
But, the partial list above indicates the wide range of humor and satire available to imaginative zombie screenwriters and movie directors. The Zombieland team has the genre cold. If there could be a Citizen Kane of zombie movies, I saw it today.
They don't stop at spoofing body biters:
Post-apocalypse America, and the search for junk food. The buddy movie. The coming of age movie. The road movie. The young love movie. The nerd coming into his own movie. An endlessly inventive script, filled with lines that will be repeated at the water cooler by fans of the undead and Twinkies.
What fun it must have been to make. What fun it must be to be a zombie extra. Great makeup, lots of costume changes (I think they reuse some of the zombies ... do you?), ability to gnash teeth seen as a plus, over acting demanded, over the top death throes encouraged, tall/short/fat/skinny/ethnicity ... who cares? No script to memorize. Emotive range of snarls and grunts rewarded.
Woody Harrelson, the Babe Ruth of Zombie Killers in an Oscar/NRA Man of the Year-winning performance. Jesse Eisenberg, the Jesse Eisenberg of sensitive nerdy young men, the sane everyman in an undead world. Emma Stone, the Elizabeth Taylor eyeliner spokesperson to the world, the love interest. The late great Bill Murray, getting his just desserts for messing with the undead genre, finding out that a Ghostbuster doesn't cut it among professional zombie killers.
I loved Shaun of the Dead. I liked Zombieland even more. Go see it in a theater, surrounded by friends and fellow zombie lovers. Remember the rules enumerated in the movie. I did. I checked the back seat of my car before I entered, and wore my seat belt.
In these times, it doesn't hurt to be on the safe side when it comes to zombies. Have you seen Nancy Pelosi lately?
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