These 5 zombie flicks will bite you right in the feels.
The goal of this series is to show that being “manly” and being disconnected with your emotions do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While the approach to these articles is one of comedy and satire, the emotional core of these movies is very valid. Manly movies make guys cry, for example:
Zombies are a curious creature in cinema. For a good long stretch they were inundating the movie theater almost as much as superhero films are currently. Many were lobbying for their demise, as a little bad zombie film can go a long way. For every Night of the Living Dead¸ we have ten SyFy (ugh…that spelling) original movies that star C-list actors and, I don’t know, tornados full of zombies. (I have full copyright on that one, SyFy!) Then The Walking Dead exploded on TV and showed them how it’s done right.
A really GOOD zombie film has social commentary built in, and that can change depending on the type of zombie you’re dealing with. Are they shambling husks or Olympic sprinters? Do they crave just brains or is the entire body on the menu? Can they think or is there nothing left but a mindless eating machine? With seemingly endless permutations, there’s always a fresh take on these rotting monsters. Some of which are so well done, they can even bite us right in the feels.
1. Night of the Living Dead
The classic and some argue the progenitor of the modern zombie. While the “Z” word is never used either by the actors or the director, instead favoring “undead,” this is considered the litmus test to which other zombies are compared. Do your zombies shamble right? Better consult NotLD. Controversially casted at the time — that would be 1968 — Duane Jones, a black man, was the hero. He was a calm and resourceful man who helped a not-so-helpless female companion. Like a good zombie film, the reason for the outbreak is never fully explained, only hinted at — and like a FANTASTIC zombie film, the zombies just show up, instead of a protracted slow-burn of civilization ending.
The ending of this film is such a gut-punch that it’s probably best you wear a cup before viewing. (SPOILERS FOR A VERY OLD CLASSIC FILM YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW) the heroes more or less survive the night, and then, upon exiting their farmhouse refuge and seeing living humans, our hero is shot dead. Was he shot by accident by those who thought he was a zombie? Was he shot because he was black and his saviors were painted as gun-toting rednecks who could murder and get away with it? It’s up to the audience to decide, and be depressed either way.
2. 28 Days Later
If you can get past seeing Cillian Murphy’s junk for the first five minutes of this film, this is a fantastic new take on the zombie movie. The creatures are fast, sprinting and twitching with no real loss of stamina, which is horrifying in itself. Some argue that they’re not really zombies because they’re not dead, just infected with a virus that makes them Hulk-level angry at all times. Hey man, if you quack like a duck and eat my face off, I’m going to call you a zombie duck.
In the part that really got to me emotionally, Cillian “Scarecrow” Murphy finds his parents in bed, having committed suicide to avoid the apocalypse. They thought he was in a coma, and wrote him a note saying they loved him and were happy he could sleep forever. That’s some hardcore Romeo and Juliet shit right there, killing yourself to be with your son, then finding out he wasn’t dead in the first place? Ouch. Sure, the alternative was being murder-death-killed, but they potentially could have seen him again.
3. Dawn of the Dead (2004 remake)
It was a good movie, get over yourself. This zombie film featured actual return-from-the-dead creatures, but also added in the speed and ferocity of the not-undead from 28 Days Later. That’s a potent mixture of terror. Between the sheer numbers of bodies this film displayed (hello budget and CG!) and the excellent pacing (fifth-gear the whole way), I really like this film. That being said, it’s tough to watch on a full stomach…in the best of ways.
Max Headroom, oh sorry, I mean Moloch…sorry, Trashcan Man…dammit, the neighbor from Honey I Shrunk the Kids…DAMMIT his name is Matt Frewer! He and his daughter get rescued by the main protagonists, but he’s been bitten. Usual zombie fodder, either kill him right there or have him hide the bite and then become a liability later, right? No, they let it burn slooooow. First off, he tells everyone immediately he was bit, but the group agrees to let him live out his last few moments. With a gun trained to his head, the infection kills him slowly, giving him enough time to say goodbye to his daughter and explain that “You want to savor every last moment.” (Quote may not be actual wording, I was too busy crying.)
4. Shaun of the Dead
What can I say? A zombie list without this film would not be a very good zombie list. Both a parody of the genre and a damn fine proper example of the genre done right, Simon Pegg and the gang bring their A-game. I’ve written about how this film is sad before, but it bears repeating. The titular Shaun is too dependent on his mom, so he has to watch her die, then kill her. He was too resistant to his step-father, so he had to watch him die and leave him in a car. Shaun was too attached to his slacker roommate, so he watched him die…holy hell!
I understand why, instead of killing Nick Frost, Simon chained him up in a shed. That much loss and sorry just…I’m sorry…my eyes…
5. Army of Darkness
Because it’s my list and I love Bruce Campbell and you are going to deal with it. ‘Kay? Good. Um…sad part?
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