After Lawrence, KS Scene-Stealers sitegoer Tony Sams’ kickass list of Top 10 Voyeuristic Films two weeks ago, we have decided to really open Top 10 Tuesdays up to the community. This week, Aaron Hale from Kansas City weighs in with a list he submitted of his favorite zombie movies. If you’d like to submit a Top 10 or an idea for one, email Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll try to have a user-submitted Top 10 every other week. In the meantime, enjoy this list of zombie flicks from Aaron Hale:
You could call me a zombie enthusiast. People who know me know that I frequently have dreams involving zombies, and make up ideas for zombie movies. I even wrote a song about zombies. In fact, I’m listening to Max Brooks’ “World War Z” audiobook as I type this. Sometimes my wife gets a little freaked out (or annoyed) at my enthusiasm for zombies. Maybe it’s because, when we visit our local Blockbuster, I’m always digging around the horror section for zombie movies that I haven’t seen. Or maybe its because our Netflix queue is filled with them. Now, I haven’t seen all the zombie movies ever made, and some of you zombie purists may find my list a bit disappointing, and you may think it shows a naïve lack of education, but please understand that this is a silly zombie enthusiast’s opinion based only on a few years of experience in the genre…and as a 26-year-old guy who also enjoys a good comedy. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s move on to the list. Hopefully it will spark some discussion!
10. Shiryô-gari/US title: Junk (2000)
So I started the list with a Japanese flick that – when a group of friends and I watched it – we laughed hysterically at for its entire 83 minutes of exploding-head-gory greatness. Some of you who have seen this movie may stop reading the rest of my list because this movie is so terrible. But don’t. This one is so bad, it’s awesome! Four jewelry thieves rob a jewelry shop in Japan and then head for an abandoned factory where they plan to fence the goods to the Yakuza. Unfortunately, their chosen location happens to be the same place where American scientists had previously experimented on resurrecting the dead… and it worked! Please rent this – if you can find it.
9. Braindead/ North American title: Dead Alive (1992)
Okay, so another ridiculous movie on my list. But a classic, for sure. Peter Jackson (of “Lord of the Rings” fame) is a gory, violent bastard. When a young man’s mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey, she gets sick and dies and (of course) comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors (including babies) and turning them into zombies. The young man eventually has to hide all the bodies in his basement and chain them down so that no one else “dies.” There is plenty of vomiting and lots of fake blood and guts in this film. In fact it holds the world record for the most fake blood used in a single movie. If all that gore doesn’t make you sick, it’s possible that a dead mother’s very literal attempt at a Freudian rebirth with her son (Lionel, our hero) might.
8. The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi (“Spider-man”) and Bruce Campbell (“Army of Darkness”) team up for one of the most frightening/hilarious horror movies of all the time. These two old friends made this movie a long time ago for almost no money. Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons. Scenes of self-cannibalism, beheading, and even tree-rape help to make this a classic. It’s acted out like any good B-movie – poorly, and unbelievably. Awesome! Gore abounds, and everyone gets possessed. By the end, Campbell is covered in all sorts of body fluids and you aren’t even sure he made it through the whole ordeal. That is, unless you are curious enought to rent “Evil Dead 2″ and “Army of Darkness.”
7. Day of the Dead (1985)
Finally, a George A. Romero movie makes my list. Now, of all of his classics (not including the recent “Diary of the Dead” and “Land of the Dead”…ugh), this one is my least favorite. And, to be honest, the only reason this one made my list is because of the character “Bub” – a lovable zombie, who begins to learn to act like a living human being and becomes somewhat of a hero by the end. I have a hard time with a zombie movie that the main characters are military-personnel-gone-crazy. I just can’t relate. But between this one and the Steve Miner (“Friday the 13th” 2 and 3) version, this one blows the 2008 straight-to-DVD movie away.
6. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This remake of the 1978 classic is pretty freaking good. There is a little more action in this film than the ones previously mentioned. A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall. Watch it after you watch the original. It’s definitely a worthy remake. The biggest difference between the remake and the original is that, in the remake, Zack Snyder (“300,” the upcoming “Watchmen”) chose to use fast-moving zombies, while Romero used the slow-moving, bumbling zombies in the original. I like both approaches here. They are both scary in their own right, but when it comes down to it, I always feel like I have to be true to Romero’s original vision.
5. Army of Darkness (1992)
Okay, so another Raimi movie that isn’t even about zombies. I mean, there’s some, but it’s mainly an army of Ray Harryhausen-influenced skeletons. But whatever. This movie rules. In this movie, “Evil Dead”’s Ash (Bruce Campbell) is accidentally transported back in time and forced to fight an army of the dead (close enough) in the 1300s, which is led by his clone – Evil Ash. Ridiculous, yes. Bizarre, definitely. Hilarious, heck yes! Ash is an arrogant hero who you can’t help but root for. I always wanted to be like him. I wish I could turn an Oldsmobile into a tank, and lug a shotgun and chainsaw with as much visible ease.
4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright are an unforgettable trio, and slowly becoming big names thanks to this movie. Pegged (pun intended) by some as a rom-zom-com (That’s romantic-zombie-comedy, duh), the stort revolves around Shaun (Pegg), who decides to turn his life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend (Kate Ashfield), reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living. Shaun and his idiotic best friend, Ed (Frost), become pretty good zombie killers. If you haven’t seen this, I guess I’m not sure why.
3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The one that started it all and made George A. Romero a legend. I know what you’re thinking. Why is the original zombie film only at number three?! I’m not exactly sure, but I guess it’ s simply because I liked two other zombie movies better. I’m no expert, but there you have it. A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse in this low-budget classic that started the zombie craze, and became one of the most influential horror films of all time. Another thing that makes this movie so important is its portrayal of a black man as the protagonist during a time when race was an extremely sensitive issue in the United States. When you first start watching, you can’t help but laugh a little. Then, as the movie progresses, you start to get a little more terrified and, by the end, you don’t really want to turn the light out or sleep by yourself.
2. 28 Days Later (2002)
I saw this movie in the theater by myself and I think I can pinpoint this as probably the moment when my zombie fascination began. It creeped me out so bad. “28 Days later” is not just a great zombie movie, but a beautifully filmed piece of art. Of all the zombie movies I have seen, this one was the most believable. Director Dammy Boyle takes the “undead” idea and turns it into a virus that is spreading like wildfire. A young man (Cillian Murphy) and his friends try to find refuge. But even when they think they find it, it turns out that safety isn’t really for real in a world gone mad with rage.
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
My favorite zombie movie of all time. I think Romero got better with this one. Maybe it’s because, out of all of the zombie pics, I related to this movie the most. I could actually see myself in the characters of this movie. If zombies had taken over my city, these people did exactly what I would do and acted exactly how I think I would. An ever-growing epidemic of zombies has risen from the dead and two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall. This is the movie where the famous line “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth” came from. Classic.