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Juan Of The Dead

Mark Kermode | 12:21 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2012

There's a new zombie movie just out - the first one to come from Cuba. Like many films in the genre it's a satire - what is your favourite use of the well-worn zombie riff in cinema?

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Michael Jackson's Thriller.

    The video (the first of its kind) wasn't necessarily about zombies. But it is the zombie movie that has had the most impact. It was the first music video to tell a story or be a movie. The jacket worn by Michael is iconic. The video has been recreated hundreds of times, from small town dance groups to the youtube prison video to the newlywed couple who did it as their first dance. Michael Jackson himself even remade the video for his This Is It tour.

    Maybe it's not a film as such, but in terms of it's legacy and importance in both music and popularculture, Thriller has to be the most important zombie film to be released.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's an obvious one, but the Romero use of zombies is probably the best and most allegorical to the times in which they were made. In each of his three films, the zombies represent some looming, terrifying threat to the lives of the human characters, but also provide a representation of how mass populations act as a collective consciousness. My favourite of the three is Dawn of the Dead, as his use of the zombie apocalypse to question ideas of capitalism, consumerism and how they endlessly enforce norms and trends in terms of culture, entertainment, fashion, politics etc. I for one have definitely been in a shopping mall or public place and watched as the crowds of people pass in and out of shops and restaurants, mindlessly picking out the food they're told to eat, the clothes they're told to wear etc. and thought of Romero's undead creatures roaming the modern landscape.

  • Comment number 3.

    Shaun of the dead

    Juan, looks like a complete 'Shaun' rip off. Shaun mixes the horror and comedy brilliantly. It's funny, scary and sad when it needs to be. It's so difficult to do anything original with the zombie movie, both Shaun and 28 days later (forget the 'they're not really zombies' argument) took a well-worn genre and redefined it. I also think 28 week later is brilliant (although it's a long way from docklands to parliament hill and then from parliament hill to wembley, not a 5 minute run).

    New zombie films are being released constantly, probably because they are fairly cheap to make – get a group of your mates to stagger around with contact lenses in. And it's straight to DVD.

    Horror film producers / directors should look at novels for something fresh. 'The forest of hands and teeth' is a 'twilight' of the zombie genre. 'The passage' is excellent, although probably considered a vampire novel. 'Handling the undead' is Scandinavian, creepy and disturbing – the zombies don't eat people, they just sit there, then become violent when corralled. From the same author as 'Let the right one it'.

  • Comment number 4.

    Alex Garland and Danny Boyle's "zombies" in 28 Days Later, although not technically zombies they are working within the same wheelhouse as Romero (the last third is very much similar to Day of the Dead). But I think they have the most subtle use of zombies as being a representative of a socio-political problem. Here they take on the spectre of civil unrest in a post 9/11 world.

    The film opens with images of supposedly real violence taking place in what looks like the Middle East which is then revealed is being shown on TV sets in the lab where the 'Rage' virus is being concocted. Angry animal rights activists unleash the virus and suddenly the world becomes infected to the point where nearly everyone is a Rage infected zombie.

    Boyle juxtaposes images eerily reminiscent of the 9/11 aftermath, it opens in metropolitan London with bits of paper floating around abandoned streets and there is a wall which has missing persons posters plastered to it, which although shot before the 9/11 attacks, it became strangely prescient.

  • Comment number 5.

    Its hard to look past Romero, I'm actually a fan of the Land of the Dead idea, if not the way it was excecuted.
    The idea of the Zombies as the disenfranchised poor and the living as the affluent rich seems to be a idea worth playing with, however I think LotD failed to achieve what such a great idea could achieve.

  • Comment number 6.

    I actually liked the underated Diary of the Dead quite alot. The commentary of social networking and the digital age, of everything being available to view or comment on "as it happens".

    I also liked the nod to why zombies that move really slowly catch people who move fast which is a two fingers up at the "Dawn" and "Day" remakes where zombies are all Olympic athletes. Made me chuckle.

    This Romero film deserves alot more recognition imo. It's not really up there with the original trilogy but hey it works because it's of it's times as each of the originals were.

    Fulci's "Zombie Flesh Eaters"/ "Zombie 2" is possibly the most enjoyable of all the supposedly serious efforts, with a natty as hell sound track, and who can ever forget the zombie vs shark sequence! Worth a watch just for that alone.

  • Comment number 7.

    My favourite has to be 'Braindead'. The reverse of 'Night of the Living Dead'. Lionel tries to keep the zombies IN the house because to have the undead running riot around his prim and proper, middle class pakeha Wellingtonian community simply would not be the done thing. Mother would never have allowed it.

  • Comment number 8.

    Has anyone made a zombie film about zombies being used as a metaphore for the over use of zombies in mass media? Lets face it between all the films, books, reinterpritation of classic books, music videos, computer games, computer games that have zombies killing mode shoe horned in for no reason other than zombies are popular right now (Call of Duty: Black Ops I'm looking at you) it strikes me that all you need to say is my (Blank) has zombies in it and you got funding.

  • Comment number 9.

    While I do appreciate the Romero films for the additions in the survival Horror/Black comedy genre, I think "Shaun of the dead" has the best metaphorical use of Zombies in cinema for me at this point in time.

    Why? Mainly because it manages to get the Romantic Comedy right! There are few Romantic comedies that I love that are not made by Woody Allen (Sorry but I have grown fond of his writings no matter how similar they are), but "Shaun of the Dead" manages to do one of the ballsiest things any Romantic Comedy could do; fill up the local city with a zombie apocalypse to bring the doomed relationship a lot closer than it ever was. Shaun's girlfriend, Liz, and his third friend/roommate, Pete, encourage him to sort his life out and grow up, and this disaster forces him to commit selfless acts of heroism and take responsibility for his actions. This film obviously owes a lot to the Romero films but this manages to be satirical while simply telling the story like it is.

  • Comment number 10.

    #1. To have Jackson/Landis’s Thriller at all you first had to know that it was referencing Zombie movies.

    The 1930s ‘White Zombie’ was the first, set in Haiti and with zombies depicted as living people placed under another’s control by use of voodoo.

    The idea of zombies as being people resurrected from the dead came from Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead. Since then the idea has been adapted variously as riffs on contagion &/or societal collapse movies.

    The main import of Thriller is it made zombies suitable entertainment for children. It was also the moment zombies lost their most of their bite in the horror genre.

    Most interesting use of the zombie (as metaphor) in a movie? Dr K mentions most of the obvious ones (Romero’s movies).

    Wes Craven took the genre back to its Haitian roots with The Serpent and the Rainbow, set in Haiti where the then repressive Duvalier regime used voodoo as a means of political control and repression.

    Andrew Currie’s Fido – best described as a zombie Stepford Wives – with zombies as the hired help.

    Off topic ~ Juan Of The Dead looks interesting, not least because it got past the Cuban censors (it promotes capitalism apparently). I’m also looking forward to the British directed, African set The Dead.

  • Comment number 11.

    Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Yes. I know it's not overtly about zombies, but the mutants represent an undead society very similar to the zombies seen in the Romero trilogy and others. It features people ripping their skin off and unveiling themselves as bloodied, mutilated beings. Not a great movie, in my opinion, but certainly an interesting spin on the genre that explores apocalypse and nuclear threats ith a zombie-like twist.

  • Comment number 12.

    The best part about "Zombieland" is probably the opening twenty or so minutes. The reason being that, due to a history/culture of zombie films, Jesse Eisenberg's character has created a surivival guide to living in a world populated largely by zombies!

    On a TV level, The Simpsons have often bene turned into zombies by television itself: "We are watching FOX..."

  • Comment number 13.

    The Borg in 'Star Trek: First Contact'. Crew members of the Starship Enterprise are turned into machine like Zombies through the use of Borg technology which connects people together in one unified mind. Seems like a good allegory for how Technology today is keeping us in constant contact with one another but slowly turning us into more zombie like people who sustain relationships through electronic communication rather than face to face.

  • Comment number 14.

    Although it wasn't a film, I have to mention Charlie Brooker's superb six part TV series 'Dead Set' where the only people safe from a zombie outbreak are those locked in the Big Brother house. Not only is it great fun but a clear swipe at the modern day media - a recurring theme we've come to expect from Mr. Brooker's work.

    The zombies in 'Dead Set' act as a representation for a TV viewer's mind numbing acceptance and constant appetite for reality television.

  • Comment number 15.

    Jacques Tourneur "I walked with a Zombie" - was really interesting and has stayed with me years since watching it in the old BBC 2 Friday night horror slot - the zombie state highlighted the main characters' blighted dreams and wasted lives - a B movie became something better - a meaningful examination of thwarted hopes and what happens as a result.

    On a more prosaic note - my son and I were extras in the extremely appalling - straight to DVD "World of the Dead - Zombie Diaries 2" - and whenever he's been really foul and - I can sit and watch the scene where he gets shot in the head and then feel much better

  • Comment number 16.

    +1 for the Borg.

    I have to say I really enjoyed Juan of the Dead at the Leeds Film Festival last year, much more than The Dead, which was shown in 2010. To be honest, if The Dead wasn't so loud, I'd have fallen asleep. The only new thing it brought to the zombie genre was the location - Burkina Faso.

  • Comment number 17.

    My pick would have to be Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator, based on the devilishly disgusting and humorous H.P. Lovecraft short story, which many see as a parody of Frankenstein, which I can definitely see. While both Frankenstein and Re-Animator share the metaphor of "we shouldn't play God", Re-Animator definitely has more fun with itself, hence the audience does as well.

  • Comment number 18.

    Probably the most unusual riff is the RKO produced I Walked with a Zombie which is Bronte's Jane Eyre set in Haiti. Mr Rochester becomes an American plantation owner who hires a nurse to care for his supposedly catatonic wife, who is revealed to be a zombie, but the nurse thinks she can be helped by a witch doctor. Setting the stage for an eerie walk through a field where a voodoo ceremony is taking place. The nurse is clearly Jane Eyre and the zombiefied wife a great variation on the mad woman in the attic. Val Lewton's pitch for the film was probably "we don't need to pay for the rights".

  • Comment number 19.

    Fido (2006) 'nuff said

  • Comment number 20.

    The Zombie mother from Braindead has to be up there, as she wants her son to stay with her so much she sucks him back into her womb!
    P.S. Mark please please see my comment on the other blog and tell us why film 24 isn't on every week! Where was the Avengers review?!

  • Comment number 21.

    Am i the only one who thinks zombie movies are rubbish or is it just me?

  • Comment number 22.

    The greatest zombie in cinema has to be Keanu Reeves.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great shout out by darkdreamweaver1 with Fido. I couldn't call just one moment on that film with the character Fido reminding me of the chained up zombie in Day of the Dead who was a scene stealer!

  • Comment number 24.

    I'd pick "28 Days Later" despite not strictly a zombie movie. For me, it meant "Don't trust the government - they lie and are happy to let you die" plus "Don't trust the armed forces - they lie, go mad and plan a nasty fate for you"......or maybe I'm just paranoid *twitch**twitch*....

  • Comment number 25.

    Technically not a film, but Dead Set by Charlie Brooker (as already mentioned) I feel used zombies the best. He takes a swipe at 'brainless' reality TV show audiences by having them among the first to be infected. The survivors have to take refuge in the Big Brother House, whilst their actions are still broadcasted to the transfixed undead audience.

  • Comment number 26.

    Braindead says lots of things about class, sex, motherhood and love. But the best comments are on class - especially when Lionel's mother is visibly zombifying at the dinner table whilst her guests wolf down lumps of infected goop, smile and ask for more. Brilliant.

  • Comment number 27.

    I suppose Frankenstein... Mans attempt to control nature; gone wrong and utterly mis-understood... Or is Frankenstein a man of many (Zombie) parts...

  • Comment number 28.

    THe Plague Of The Zombies 1966. A Hammer classic and one of my first zombie experiences as a thrill seeking child. Of cause the story is about how the workers get exploited by the mine owning aristocracy.The capitalst pigdog is so tight ,he doesnt want to pay people, so he brings the dead back to life and pays them nowt. Its a classic grim story of the underbelly ( or in this case the underground) members of our society being abused, then tragically dieing down the pit. As if dieing once wasnt enough !

  • Comment number 29.

    It has already been mentioned, but for a scathing criticism of popular culture, the British sensibility and a riff on the absurdness of reality television, you need look no further than Charlie Brookers 'Dead Set'. It is simultaneously a commentary on the state of what we accepted as entertainment in the 2000's, and it is also a very gory, very scary and disturbing horror tv - movie.
    Everything you want in a zombie movie.

  • Comment number 30.

    Romero's classic trilogy is hard to beat really, other zombie movies often imitate these definitive films. Although I would argue that Day is less about vivisection more a dialogue about military leaders/the militarisation of politics.

    I'd also suggest Pet Semetary, one of the best Stephen King adaptations & a genuinely unsettling horror movie. French movie Les Revenants aka They Came Back is one of the most interesting zombie films, a more existential take as the undead return in a kind of fugue state. They do not want to devour the living, simply reintegrate into society.

  • Comment number 31.

    Another vote for the Borg from "Star Trek: First Contact."

    What's better than a zombie movie? A space zombie movie where Patrick Stewart gets to play Bruce Willis and the mindless walking dead get to have a voice--and a sexy voice at that!

    "Was it good for you?"

  • Comment number 32.

    'I Walked With A Zombie': understated but creepy. The zombie here stands for the way in which evil is an underlying potential of all human beings regardless of their racial or cultural background.

  • Comment number 33.

    My favourite zombie film is Bob Clark's Dead of Night, which uses the zombie metaphor for Vietnam and how that war affects the family life and to a small town.

    www.john-ninnis.com

  • Comment number 34.

    Both my favorite zombie, film and metaphor both, Dawn of the Dead. I grew up 't'other side of Pennsylvania from Pittsburgh and we had some of the first indoor malls in the area. The film evokes mindless consumerism, and my childhood.

    Brooker's Dead Set was good fun, but only seemed like an extension of Dawn's attack on a consumerist culture with some of Brooker's acerbic rants handily placed into the mouths of the characters. We could also look at the zombie's close relatives, the pod people, especially effective loss of identity in the Kaufmann version.

    I'd like to ask a contrary question, is it possible to make a horror story with any of our standard monsters, werewolves, vampires, zombie's etc. without having a heaping helping of metaphor as a side dish? And, would it be any good?

    There are times when I'm sick to the backteeth of these things standing in for fear of sex, or aids, or ageing, or prejudice, or homophobia, or .... for once could they just be scary things that kill. Although, perhaps my wish for meaningless entertainment merely represents a society addicted to pure escapism.

  • Comment number 35.

    Another vote for the relentless Borg.

    'Their Zombie's Jim but not as we know them' there are a metophor for the relentless march of technologly and how we are 'forced' to conform by having the latest gadget thrust upon us.

  • Comment number 36.

    A few people have already mentioned 'Dead Set', but I wanted to add that for me the best social comment in it is the end, which shows the zombies shuffling around then getting transfixed by the tv. Anyone who knows Brooker will probably be hearing his voice ranting in their heads at this point!!

  • Comment number 37.

    I really wish Bub from Day of the Dead had his own spin off, perhaps TV series.

    A few overlooked Zombie classics: City of The Living Dead, The Living Dead at The Manchester Morgue, The Beyond, Serpent & The Rainbow, Zombi 2 (Zombie Flesh Eaters), Demons (well ok they're demons but there was an underlining of post-life & death morphism and social debate...you can't deny this!).

  • Comment number 38.

    An fairly easy one for me Marc Price's 2008 film Colin, told almost entirely from a Zombies perspective this film asks the biggest question of all. Who are the real monsters them or us. Surely Colin is one of the most sympathetic horror characters to grace our screens showing empathy with those he meets and a longing for a life he once had. Maybe not as glossy as 28 days or as iconic as Romeros trilogy, Colin is for me in its own small way an example of where horror could and should go.....

  • Comment number 39.

    I generally find zombie films annoying - yes, you can use zombies as allegories for all sorts of things you might want to say about society and mass culture, but why? The time is long past when this was new or surprising. Why not just omit the zombie element, and thus open the film to people who like a story with a social conscience but not gore for its own sake? Together with the recent zombie craze, as Tachikoma @8 mentions, to me it seems more and more like jumping on a bandwagon.

    That being said, I do love Shaun of the Dead (although I maintain that the zombie element of it isn't really that important to the film being as funny or insightful as it is). My vote for best allegorical use of zombies has to be Nick Frost at the end of the film - a great comment on the nature of male friendships, and on videogaming as non-gamers see it.

  • Comment number 40.

    I know that Dead Set is a popular choice but it's still my favourite metaphorical use of zombies, plus that final 5 minutes just left me chilled to the bone - superb writing.
    On a less subtle level, my vote would have to go for Rec. Its use of zombies is pretty much just on a fear level but I liked how their origins came from a manifestation of pure evil; they're just no-nonsense, subtext free scary.

  • Comment number 41.

    Although obviously meant in jest, the final scenes in Shaun of the Dead, where the zombies are put to work collecting trolleys, etc. has come to have a satirical and metaphorical meaning for me and the people I work with.

    It represents the bigoted anti-disibility attitude that has seen an unfortunate rise under the current government. Where every benefit recipient is seen as undeserving, or a scrounger or a cheat. This is particularly a problem for those with 'invisible' disabilites such as mental illness. Recently we have been afflicted with constant pressure from the government's paid hit squad ATOS, a company for whom death or indeed undeath would never be a good enough reason for a person not to work. Some of the actual cases of people who were so-called 'fit to work' are so ridiculous as to be almost beyond satire.

    When I rewatched Shaun of the Dead recently, those scenes seemed almost prescient!

  • Comment number 42.

    41: Hmm just wanted to make clear that I am refering to the attitude to the zombies, not referring to my clients as Zombies. Just want to make ABSOLUTELY clear!

  • Comment number 43.

    I would say the romero zombies not because there the best but there moe to them.I mean look at night of the livig dead filmed and released in the 60s during that time the civil rights movement was really picking up well there is a black male lead fighting zombies,really.In the dawn of the dead set during the time of when consumering really started to bloom to bigger better things,well the whole setting is set up in an indoor mall now just called a mall.Day of the dead was based on the 80s where people were desperately avoiding the problem.Land of the dead basically based on the early 2000s when the midlle eastern was the concern of all the problems but the citizens on thier own soil were ignored.Diary of the dead tells the story of the recording which was relased when every one was not more than two inches away from a working camera.Among all the dripping denching blood and guts there is satirical sanity in all of romero's zombies films.If you ask me the zombies weren't the only beings eating more than they can swallow.

  • Comment number 44.

    The zombie cycle is a brilliant genre. One can explore political and idealogocal allegory in a setting that involves horrific (sometimes cheap) gore and action. However my choice would have to be Lamberto Bava's Demons double bill. Both films shamelessly dispense with the political leanings and instead offer up a film with intextual references to cinema and zombie lore. Very very rarely have there been two films that have worked where story and cohearence have been sacrificed for the sake of visuals and spectacle. I would like to give one example but that would be dishing out spoilers. A brilliant and fun set of films.

  • Comment number 45.

    Bob Clark's Dead of Night (aka Deathdream). A beautiful zombie/Vietnam war allegory

  • Comment number 46.

    As others have said, zombie movies have their origin in the 1932 film White Zombie which was itself a riff on voodoo.
    On that basis can I please nominate Alan Parker's Angel Heart where voodooism and the living dead (Harry Angel) lie at the core of the story. It's become trendy of late to dis Angel Heart as over-blown nonsense but I still think it's a great and sadly over-looked film, mores the pity. The final descent to the electric chair/Hell still has the power to send a wee tingle through my spine.

  • Comment number 47.

    Darn Ninnis got that one covered already. Regardless the film is well worth checking out. Clark was an underrated horror director, his "Black Christmas" still stands as one of the finest slasher films ever made

  • Comment number 48.

    Charlie Brooker's Dead Set (2008): It is extremely unnerving, saturated with the best kind of dark humour, it features a violent undead Davina McCall (her finest work), and it anticipates the London riots of last year. The scenes where the hyper-cynical TV producer, brilliantly played by Andy Nyman, audibly defecates in a bin and where he graphically dissects the corpse of a Big Brother contestant to use as bait for the zombies stand in for the worst excesses of reality television. Dead Set not only critiques these shows but self-consciously exploits the same sick compulsion to watch, making the viewer complicit in these excesses. And who can forget the poignancy of the line, 'Does this mean we're not on television any more?'

  • Comment number 49.

    How about DEATHDREAM (1974)-it's a minor classic and uses the main character's zombie status (he died in the war but comes back home) to demonstrate the real-life traumas of soldiers returning from Vietnam. Other than that, definitely the first two Romero films.

  • Comment number 50.

    The 4 Zombies in the Sex in the City films.Its a blatant Metaphor of shallow self indulgent fall of humanity.

  • Comment number 51.

    Aplogies to #45 who had already mentioned DEATHDREAM(as I've just seen!).........another would be AMERICAN ZOMBIE (2007)-using zombies in a documentary format to comment on the struggles of the underclass in the USA

  • Comment number 52.

    Charlie Brooker's Dead Set. Fantastic commentary on the excesses of reality television, and what state it will likey reach. The very last scene, implies those who watch reality tv, which at some point is everyone, are just zombies watching zombies, is fantastically well crafted. Some decent gore as well.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think that 28 Days Later, the 2002 Danny Boyle movie is a film that represents society to its extreme. People killing people, and how humanity is violent, and how it will eventually collapse upon itself from its own hatred. And also, how far we are willing to go, to protect the ones we love and care about. This film also displays the beauty of the world no matter all the bad things that happened. The "Rage" virus may just be a metaphorical representation of the anger in human society and culture, just sped up to an extreme.

  • Comment number 54.

    Hayden Christensen in anything

  • Comment number 55.

    I second the several posters mentioning Shaun of the Dead and its "we're not that different from zombies" approach as an interesting use of the idea.

    But possibly the main reason why zombies are as popular as they are in fiction and videogames is that they're people that you can kill with a clear conscience. Nobody imagines a zombie apocalypse in which they themselves get zombified; rather, The Event is an opportunity to apply a righteous cricket bat to the faces of all those annoying people one is forced to live with.

    This goes deeper than revenge however. It's an occasion for a ragged (and ultimately doomed) bunch of misfits to battle an almost human opponent to the death, which like heroic fantasy appeals to ancient, instinctive and viscerally violent sides of all of us, with the bonus of appearing to be morally clean.

    Sometimes things are not left as clear cut, and some zombie films make it a point to highlight the sadism inherent in the zombie outbreak fantasy; among them, "Diary of the Dead" and "Le Horde" contain scenes in which survivors taunt or torture zombies, clearly meant to be a sign of the moral depravity of the survivors. There's a distinction made between fighting "clean" and gloating, but the danger of giving in to the "dark side" is always present.

  • Comment number 56.

    Colin - was an interesting Zombie given the film was told from his POV.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mark, I am interested to note that of all the zombie films that I have seen the two I have been most shocked by have been Scooby Doo on Zombie Island (seriously, I was a kid) and Braindead, but The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue is one that I think is the most interesting. Set in a kind of troubled North seen through Italian eyes, it serves as a kind of metaphor. The police treat zombies like protestors, they shoot them and laugh, only to be struck down by the hero George, no relation, who is now a zombie. There is some message there in my opinion on 3day week Britain, the zombies who are incredibly sympathetic and the racist bigoted police who will do anything to keep them away from the inner-city.

  • Comment number 58.

    Agrigultural zombie films (Dead Meat, Black Sheep) always have pointed comments about use of agri-chemicals or industrial farming methods...Isolation even seems to be having a go at European Union Common Agricultural Policy...and stars one of my fave underrated Irish actors, John Lynch...

  • Comment number 59.

    Have to say Boyle's 28 Days Later holds a special place in my heart. Though not strictly a zombie movie, there is so much to admire in that film, I have a copy I bring out a couple of times a year and it never fails to entertain. However I also have a soft spot for Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004), loved the scene on the roof where they were 'picking off' zombie 'celebrities' outside the mall, and despite the guts and gore there was also a real 'tongue in cheek' thread running through the whole thing that just seemed to work. Two completely different endings, but a great double bill as they compliment each other perfectly.

  • Comment number 60.

    If you love zombies like i do, check this out .Warning! its not for the faint of heart.I love the lyrics, enjoy
    Youtube Zombie Film Tribute `Parade of the Dead` Hilltop Hoods

  • Comment number 61.

    Another nod for 'Dead Of Night/Deathdream'. I saw it recently, and found it out Romero-ed Romero in terms of using zombies as a means for social/political commentary. It lacks the viscera of Romero's initial trilogy, but if anything that leaves more time for the exploration of the zombie-as-metaphor-for-vietnam idea. It's a great example of using the extremes of horror convention to examine very real and human emotion at the heart of the story.

  • Comment number 62.

    Metaphorical Shark repellant. Nothing else like it.

    By the way: PLEASE will people stop saying that 28 days and Months aren't zombie movies. Its not important that the "Zombies" aren't undead. "Zombie movie" is a Genre - these films follow all the tropes. If it looks like a zombie, eats like a zombie and reproduces like a zombie then...

  • Comment number 63.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you.... Gay Zombie

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZuK_wYrqp8

  • Comment number 64.

    Battlefield Earth...the whole movie is a brain dead, shambling, loping commentary on the utter ridiculousness of L Ron Hubbard

  • Comment number 65.

    My vote goes to the Jorge Grau's splendid 1974 zombie film The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie), the first undead film that I saw where polluting the environment with dodgy chemical pesticides was to blame for the ensuing carnage.

    It's not a perfect film by any means, an Italian/Spanish co-production, set in England, with a then-famous American character actor Arthur Kennedy, at the end of his career, clearly going through the motions for a paycheck, but boy what a bonkers gore-filled film it is, I love it! Long Live Guthrie!

    "You talk about the dead walking, about cannibalism!" a scientist spits at one point. "It's unscientific, man!"

  • Comment number 66.

    Talking about zombies the 2005 film by Sakichi Satô Tokyo Zombie, has to be mentioned.
    It's weird it's funny and (somewhere in there) there's an environmental message too.
    Also, it has Zombies being exploited as wrestlers.

  • Comment number 67.

    If you ever want to see a zombie martial arts type action film, watch Ryûhei Kitamura's film versus.
    A convict being chased by gangsters in a forest, learns that nobody in this particular forest can die. Everyone including himself come back as zombies!

  • Comment number 68.

    This is slightly off topic but I have to say that I'm completely sick of the modern day trend for tongue-in-cheek and satyrical zombie movies that often amount to the director going "Hurr! I know about zombie movies and will make fun of all the genre's cliches because it's never been done before and I'm a genius!". Except Shaun of the Dead, because it's just great on so many levels.

    To me true zombie movies are the ones made by Italians trying to take things seriously despite the ridiculousness of the whole scenario (and the Romero films, obviously). Filmmakers these days frequently go straight for the "comedy Zombie movie" route which just doesn't work because half the fun of the oldschool zombie films was that the comedy was frequently unintentional.

  • Comment number 69.

    Day of the Dead [Romero's finest film]: the rise to hero of Bub, the zombie-guinea pig, reinforces the humanist belief that even the most troubled human being can become good via education, rehabilitation and affection. By the end of the flick, Bob rises up to bring justice to the despicable Captain Rhodes - heck, redemption isn't for everyone. Some people deserved to be choked upon. Bub paved the way for the civilised zombie.

  • Comment number 70.

    THE SCENE in Shaun of the Dead where he walks to the shop and back surrounded by zombies and not being able tell is a genius reflection of society and our zombie-life-behaviour.

  • Comment number 71.

    I personally enjoy Zombieland. I mean, it has to have a sitire in it somewhere, doesnt it?
    I think that the satire is more about friendship and loneliness than anything else, but thats just my oppinion

  • Comment number 72.

    Best metaphorical use of a zombie? Either Billy Connolly in Fido or Jenny Spain in Deadgirl...

  • Comment number 73.

    Zombie Capitalism: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zombie-Capitalism-Chris-Harman/dp/1905192533

    It keeps falling over, it seems to be always in crisis. But it never quite dies, it keeps coming back...and it eats you.

  • Comment number 74.

    While it's not necessarily a traditional zombie movie, I'd say Pontypool is the most interesting I've seen recently, with its suggestion that the meaninglessness of everyday conversation has the power to turn the speakers into zombies.

  • Comment number 75.

    Serpent and the Rainbow is a great underrated film, and a good use of the zombie metaphor for dealing with themes of political control.

  • Comment number 76.

    I see Romero’s “Land of the Dead” as a statement about complacency toward terrorism post-9/11. The movie depicts a whole stratum of America’s population living in a “safe haven” that is literally insulated from the horrible danger surrounding it after the zombie apocalypse. The people living in this city don’t seem to know or care how the problem is dealt with, just as long as the solution doesn’t interrupt their coffee and shopping. Teams of men are sent out under perilous conditions to collect supplies and destroy zombies, yet they return to occupy an underclass, much like some members of the military today.

    It is very difficult for me to not see the zombie apocalypse as an allegory for terrorist attacks in the wake of 9/11.

  • Comment number 77.

    Braindead.

    Peter Jackson's finest work, in my humble opinion. Most people find it quite difficult to get through the movie due to the extreme levels of gore, but the allegory is quite simple. It's about Lionel's journey of releasing himself from the oppressive apron strings of his mother. It's a Dionysian dance through oedipal guilt. The 'rebirth' scene on the roof is absolutely disgusting, but perfectly ends Lionel's gruesome journey.

    Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man).

    The film is about finding love. Francesco and his simpleton assistant, Gnaghi, are tied to their duties of tending the cemetery and dealing with the rising bodies of the recently interred. They are socially crippled by their lack of contact with the world of the living and are surrounded by death 24/7. Mourners in the daytime and creeping cadavers in the night means that they become totally disconnected from any sense of reality and what it means to 'live'. Love is the only emotion that can survive death, as all others tend to fade when the object of hatred/jealousy etc. is terminated, so Francesco and Gnaghi try to find love in the only place they can: the cemetery. The last third of the film becomes increasingly dark and existential as the line between life and death becomes skewed, almost totally losing the comedic aspect; however, it transforms the experience into something far more rewarding than a splat and tickle.

  • Comment number 78.

    Although obviously not Zombies, the Morlocks from The Time Machine, adapted from HG Wells' novel, are perhaps a forerunner of the zombie as a political allegory. Feasting upon the flesh of the Eloi, the ineffectual leisured classes, the Morlocks represented the ultimate evolution of the working classes into brutish flesh ranchers with little or none of the intelligence or character of the human race from which they had evolved. Another case of HG Wells preempting one of the iconic science fiction developments of the 20th century?

  • Comment number 79.

    For me the best metaphorical use of the zombie was in '28 Weeks Later', as a metaphor for the Iraq war. In the movie US troops are sent overseas to stabilise a foreign country, but it all goes wrong and they ultimately lose control.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think an interesting one would be "Dead Alive" or "Braindead" where the zombies are used as metaphors for the necessity that the main character becomes a man.

  • Comment number 81.

    #39: I find zombie movies to be "yet another one", and find a movie that does the social introspection without using the genre as a vehicle more interesting.

    #55: Hit the nail on the head for me: For sure the social allegory is often just a way of propping up what makes the zombie genre ultimately imo so enjoyable and satisfying: "Smashing in the crowds of "other people" that afflict our lives and feeling good about it. Takeshi "Beat" Kitano once responded to a questioner about why his films were so violent eg Violent Cop, Sonatine and he responded: "People like violence." That atavistic desire to take a cricket bat to some rotting things head.

    #77: Urgh, that sounds disgustingly clever and way to horrible to watch!

    Stumped as to which zombie movie I liked the best, "meh" ;) although the clip I saw on this website once, about a 70's guy walking into a magazine store and putting on some "magical shades" and reading the subliminal advertising/conditioning and then looking at a guy asking him a question and the guy was a death-grinning skull... that was awesome: What was it called? I think it touched the fact that humans have a subconscious zombie state just underneath the surface also that either is prey to brain-washing or we know and fear a descent into...

    If anyone can answer what that movie was called from the short description (not pure zombie but related)?

  • Comment number 82.

    I'd like to suggest the 80s tongue-in-cheek horror/comedy Return of the Living Dead. You could read themes of urban alienation from the nihilistic punks' perspective, but there's also a clear message about chemical warfare and the ultimate destructive power of the military.

  • Comment number 83.

    @information1st: The movie you're thinking of is John Carpenter's They Live. Actually, the central story of that movie is that human beings have been turned into slaves by consumerism, so I suppose you could argue that equates with being zombies. Good choice!

  • Comment number 84.

    How about the great Hammer flick Plague of the zombies? British upper class bring back voodoo and use it to raise the dead so that they can run the mine! A good metaphor for British colonialism.

  • Comment number 85.

    @ #83 Mark Hudson: That's it! Very appreciated. Guess there's some rich vein of form in the zombie genre afterall?! Some good picks by ppl.

    (Was wondering what other good Cuban movies (off-topic) also (apart from Chico y Rita).)

  • Comment number 86.

    Quite surprised no-one's mentioned either of the underrated and excellent The Last Man On Earth (1964) and it's bigger budget 1971 remake The Omega Man (and I suppose I also have to include the inferior and even bigger budget Will Smith reboot I Am Legend).

    The theme here is man (or in these cases the last man) as God. A God who has the power of life and death over his minions (in this case the infected).

    Of course if we stretched it I could include Dr K's "favourite" British actor Danny "PIMP" Dyer's 2009 film Doghouse where the battle of the sexes takes a nasty turn or his 2010 zombie-entric Devil's Playground, which I think was making a comment on medical research but my brain is still trying to wipe the whole experience from my long term memory.

  • Comment number 87.

    "They live" whilst technically not a zombie film is a good call, as the aliens look pretty zombie like, plus they invert the traditional invasion subgenre from paranoia about communist "reds under the bed" to "Capitalists are turning us all into mindless consumers".
    The only other example I can think of with a broad political subtext is the environmentalist plot of "Return of the Living Dead" where even by cremating zombies, the protagonists inadvertantly release the toxic chemicals which caused them back into the atmosphere to merge with the rain and cause yet more zombies to rise from the grave.
    [Spoiler alert]



    Needless to say the nuclear strike at the end doesn't help either.

  • Comment number 88.

    Colin by Marc Price covers a lot of ground. Not only is it told from the zombie's perspective, but it explores who the zombie really is, and also who they were. It also covers the human vs zombie struggle from a different perspective which throws the usual zombie enemy narrative up in the air.

  • Comment number 89.

    It's not a Zombie Film (yet anyways) rather a Zombie Book

    It would be John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Undead. Much like he did with Let the Right One In, he took a genre and turned it on its head by making the Zombies of that novel not the typical flesh eaters rather making them real people with real connections to living relatives.

    If Dawn of the Dead is about consumerism then Handling the Undead is about the Pro-Life arguement...It's a fascinating book that explores the idea of what if someone you loved came back? Could you still love that person even if it may not be entirely the person you loved? Could you still care for them? Or would you have to let them go?

    It's a fascinating and deeply affecting novel...and is one of the more fascinating uses of the Zombie Genre that I've read in some time

  • Comment number 90.

    I'd have to say "Zombieland", simply because it's the only zombie film I've seen where the protagonists seem to be actually PRE-aware of the cultural concept of zombies, compared to all the other films, where a zombie 'outbreak' comes as a complete shock to the protagonists and they have absolutely no idea of what's going on or what to expect!

 

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