To celebrate the upcoming release of Plague Nation, Dana Fredsti is back on TitanBooks.com, talking about her favorite topic: Zombies!
Sympathetic zombies. A controversial topic
I've never been a huge fan of sympathetic zombies. I was okay with Bub in the
original Day of the Dead. It was novel, it was Romero, and the whole concept of a
semi-sentient zombie worked in this context. My boyfriend would not agree with
me, but he is a Johnny Come Lately to the world of zombies, and I reserve the right
to be all haughty and snobby about the subject since I've been watching/reading/
writing zombies since the original Dawn of the Dead first hit the theaters in 1979.
I take his point, though.
I mean, zombies are creepy because they look like your loved ones, but even if they give you sad puppy "I still love you, honey" eyes after reanimating, they will rip your throat out in a heartbeat, or at least take a juicy bite from whatever limb or body part they can reach. Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters has a great example of this when Brian is confronted with his dead girlfriend, black goo dribbling out of her mouth, but can't bring himself to kill her 'cause he gets all warm and fuzzy with the "Wow, you look great in panties and oxygen tanks, baby" and ignored the fact she had her throat ripped out by a rotting conquistador (pronounced "Conqweestador" by Brian) an hour or so earlier. Once she bites him, though, he's all "Shoot her!" to his friends.
Land of the Dead's Big Daddy and the "they just want a home" premise did not sit
well with me. Big Daddy looked more like a Klingon than a zombie, for one thing,
and the conceit that he'd be upset because his fellow small town zombies were
killed just did not work for me, especially with the zombie equivalent of "NOOOOO!"
right after that. The movie would have been a lot creepier for me had Big Daddy
just led his fellow zombies after the Dead Reckoning crew because they were a food source. But oh well, I'm not George Romero and who am I to question the Godfather of modern zombies?
But still… sympathetic zombies with sentience? Feh.
And then… I saw Warm Bodies. I have to say this movie completely changed my
mind (and my boyfriend's) on the subject of sympathetic zombies. I'd read the book a few months back and liked it, but the movie actually succeeded in making the perfect zombie fairytale. It had gore, pathos, humor, romance, and presented the sentient zombie in a way that seemed, in the context of the story, totally believable and utterly irresistible. I have never gotten all weepy-eyed in a zombie movie before Warm Bodies. And it's on my "Buy Instantly!" list when it comes out on DVD.
I've tried to dissect the difference between the zombies in Warm Bodies and other
movies that try to humanize zombies. I think, at least for me, that Warm Bodies
works on a different level because it's not trying to be a movie set in the George
Romero universe. I want mindless, brainless eating machines from the latter. There
is no fairytale ending in Dawn of the Dead, classic or remake, and nor do I want
there to be one. Warm Bodies, on the other hand, is a unique entry into the zombie
genre and stands on its own.
Does this means if my boyfriend gets bit and comes back as a zombie I won't shoot
him in the head?
But I'd feel awfully bad if it turned out his heart was still beating.