I belong to a Facebook group called Geeks and Beauties and they often have collabs. I have belonged to the group for over 6 months and this was the first time I had the opportunity to participate in one and I am very excited! I will have everyone in the collab linked below, please take some time to visit them and check out their offerings for the collab!
I love Halloween. I love horror movies. I love zombies. Ever since I was a small child, I was fascinated with the idea of the zombie apocalypse. Side note, I have been obsessed with the idea of an apocalypse of any kind since I was a kid, and how we as a society would survive in the aftermath. If there’s an apocalyptic or dystopian movie/videogame/comic/book coming out, you know I am sniffing around. I realize in many ways that the zombie craze has reached critical mass and a majority of people have gotten burned out on the topic. I am a lifelong fan of the genre and I will be for life. I wanted to talk about five of my favorite zombie movies, then discuss the pinnacle of current zombie pop culture, The Walking Dead.
I originally thought about doing a Top 5 or Top 10 for zombie movies, but I realized how incredibly difficult it would be for me to actually rate these movies. However, there is a #1 that will never change. Rather than wait until the end to discuss, I want to kick off with it. It is still what I consider a true masterpiece in the horror genre, and in all of film.
Dawn of the Dead (1978, Directed by George Romero)
Nothing will ever touch the original Dawn of the Dead. If you are a fan of horror movies and you haven’t seen this yet, I am absolutely flabbergasted. If you are not a huge horror fan, but you are a fan of interesting cinematography and social commentary, I would still recommend this movie.
Romero has beautiful use of color in this movie, I especially appreciate his desire for the blood in the film to look bright and purposely almost fake to give the film a comic book effect. I also feel that this is a movie that actually rounds out characters and gives them depth, so you actually care about what happens to them throughout the course of the movie. A lot of horror films start knocking people off before you can even begin to care about if they’re alive or dead in the first place. People weren’t the normal stereotypes that are often found in horror films, they seemed like people you knew, you could see yourself in them. They were all just doing their jobs when the world started coming to an end and now they need to survive.
The casting was great in this movie, everyone has realistic relationships with each other and portrays their sense of self very well. Something I always felt that was important was that Romero made sure to make the movie realistic in how a lot of people would actually behave in this type of scenario. Of course it is scary, stressful, and overwhelming. However, it is human nature to still enjoy life and diffuse tensions with humor. Romero includes some wonderful scenes where our survivors are laughing and being the kind of people they were before the apocalypse began. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I were in an abandoned shopping mall, I’d be running around and doing goofy things even if the zombie apocalypse was happening, even if solely for stress relief.
Our course, it would be foolish of me to not touch on the societal commentary George Romero was making with this film. Which each of his zombie films, he was giving his thoughts on different aspects of society. With this one, he was touching on the American ideals of consumerism and materialism. The survivors escape the city in a helicopter and take refuge in a mall. When the zombies begin showing up, it is said that they are remembering what they did in their daily lives, which highlights the importance of the shopping mall and consumerism in the eyes of society. Also, when unwelcome human visitors arrive, it is the material things of the survivors they want, not necessarily a safe place to live. While the social commentary was strong and relevant for the time period it was made in, it’s something that is still relevant today, even with the shopping mall as a commerce center dying out. The themes of materialism and consumerism are still a deep part of society today. His ability to look into and pick apart society is one of my favorite things about the films Romero made.
28 Days Later (2002, Directed by Danny Boyle)
The movie that started the trend of ‘fast zombies’ and the arguing between fast vs. slow zombies began. Then there are those who argue they aren’t real zombies and just victims of the ‘rage virus’. I still love this movie. It came out in the US just before my 19th birthday and I saw it in the theater or drive-in three times. The combination of zombies and Danny Boyle were an automatic draw for me.
The zombie genre has a long, rich history of having political and social subtext in their movies and I really loved the way that writer Alex Garland used it in this movie. Many movies, Romero’s included, have a sense of asking you who the true villains are. Are they the zombies? Or are they other humans taking advantage of the situation? This theme is very important in this film, specifically focused on the military. I will not try to spoil anything for those who have not seen the film. The survivors spend their time trying to arrive at a military encampment that promise to protect them and cure the outbreak. Let’s just say that they do not fulfill the promise. While watching it, the audience really starts to wonder who the real monsters are. It’s an interesting way to make a statement on our ability to trust those in places of authority.
The movie was shot without a huge budget and a lot of scenes were filmed on handheld cameras. It gives the movie and very desolate and raw quality. The casting was also well done for this movie, with Cillian Murphy in the lead role and Christopher Eccleson and Brendan Gleeson giving amazing supporting roles. With the zombies being fast, it gives a very different sens of tension to the film. Also, with most zombie movies, once someone it bit or infected, they wouldn’t turn until they died. With the virus in this film, one drop of blood would infect you and you turn immediately. While a lot of zombie purists dismiss this movie, I think it made for an interesting story. Dealing with the infected was completely different and I think it was a refreshing jump to the zombie genre. It still kept the core elements, political commentary included, which is why I still love it.
Juan of the Dead (2010, Directed by Alejandro Brugués)/ Shaun of the Dead (2004, Directed by Edgar Wright)
Keeping with the zombie movies with political commentary, I saw this film a few years ago at a 13 hour zombie film festival. My boyfriend who is not a huge fan of horror, who especially dislikes zombie films, really enjoyed this one. Yes, the title is a play on Shaun of the Dead, both are also comedy films, so I decided to discuss them together.
This film takes place in Cuba and Juan is a less than moral guy. When the zombie apocalypse hits Cuba, he sees it as a business opportunity to make money. This movie is hilarious while also taking plenty of jabs at the Cuban government. The zombies are often referred to as “dissidents”. I found it interesting to just see this kind of film from a perspective that is both similar and different from my own. Life in Cuba is very different from the United States, but if the zombies come, we’re in similar situations many times. It was something that got me thinking about life in general between the two countries while watching the film.
I tend to have an issue with unlikable protagonists in film and TV, but I was still drawn into this movie and it was interesting to see the characters change over time. It had a message about Cuba, but it was also extremely funny. Films like this have never really been made before in Cuba and I was excited to even see it made. I am hoping this will open the door for more opportunities for Cuban filmmakers in the future. A lot of people have never heard of this movie and I want to get the word out for people to check the movie out. I think a lot of people would be pleasantly surprised.
Shaun of the Dead is a movie I can come back to because it’s just plain fun to watch. I think that the zombie genre of horror can lend itself to comedy more than other sub-genres. While can be scary to think about zombies overrunning the planet, it’s also fairly absurd. I think that Edgar Wright does a great job exploiting the absurdity in this movie, while still having tense and even heartfelt moments. I also like some of the jokes he makes about the horror genre as a whole. Even those of us obsessed with horror know of the stereotypes used to death and we can appreciate a good joke at their expense.
This movie does answer the questions, what would happen if the British everyman was stuck in the middle of the apocalypse? Shaun isn’t a very desirable character at the start of the movie either, but we still grow to love him anyway. I like how this movie uses comedy, music, pop culture and emotion to bring together a fun ride of a movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. It’s one of those movies you can quote with your friends, like I have been doing for over a decade now.
The Beyond (1981, Directed by Lucio Fulci)
While not a true zombie movie by normal considerations, there are zombies in this movie so I am counting it. Since I was a child, I have had an obsession with Italian horror films. They have such a unique visual style that really sets them apart from horror movies made anywhere else. The 1970’s and 1980’s are my favorite period for Italian horror. There are amazing zombie horror films, as well as an impressive supernatural sub-genre. Suspiria being one of my favorite movies of all time.
The story I have heard is that Beyond was never meant to have zombies. Lucio Fulci had made Zombie, which was a big success, but was trying to create a trilogy of more supernatural horror films.. The studio intervened and wanted zombies since there was a huge interest in the genre at the time, so they make a few appearances in this film. It seemingly comes out of left field in the movie, but that simply adds to the reasons why I love this movie so much. It exemplifies all the is the over the top nature of Italian horror.
The lead character is am American who inherits a hotel where years before an artist (who was also a warlock) created a gate to Hell. When she begins renovations, the portal is revived and things start getting crazy. Zombies, flesh eating spiders, and a surprisingly scary German Shepard all await you… in The Beyond! A lot of critics like to make fun of and put down Italian horror, specifically Fulci’s films, but I think they’re just missing out on the fun they can provide. Fair warning; the Italian horror genre in general, but specially the zombie films, are fairly gory, even for the time period. The entire film is dripping with style and it’s visually stunning. Just the setting and the locations used to shoot the movie make it creepy on its own before even adding in the characters or creatures.
What makes Fulci’s movies even more memorable and enjoyable is the score. Fabio Frizzi did the music for this film and for many of Fulci’s films. I have always loved his simplistic, yet expressive style of composing. I listened to scores of his films, especially The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, while writing to help me focus. I want to bring this up because on Halloween this year, I am actually going to be able to meet Fabio Frizzi and then see him perform the score to The Beyond live while watching the film. It’s a bit of a dream come true and I am at a loss for words on how excited I am!
The Walking Dead (Comic and Television Show)
In 2005, my ex-boyfriend handed me the first few trades of The Walking Dead comics and from that moment, I was hooked. I will admit I fell off from reading the new issues a few years ago, but I was an avid reader for many years. I am planning to pick of trades of what I have missed and catch up eventually.
When they announced the TV show, I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was afraid it would end up being a train wreck, but here we are all these years later, a new season upon us. I will admit, for me, nothing has touched the first episode. It was so close to the source material and it was almost perfectly shot. The visuals, camera angles, the acting, it was such an amazing opening for the series.
I don’t obsess over the show the way many of my friends do. I actually watch the seasons as they come out on Netflix, not as they air live since I haven’t had cable in a long time. I still enjoy the show. Most of the changes they’ve made from comic to television I have enjoyed. I like the additional of Daryl to the television show. I am sad that some of the people who have been killed in the comics were also killed in the show. I will continue to watch the series, but I would be lying if I said I was still as interested as I was when the show began. Sometimes the show drags on for several episodes before the plot really kicks back up again.
Having a show about zombies can be tough, a movie is a concise format that doesn’t have any filler time. However, I adore season two. People complain about season two being boring and not having enough zombies and not enough action. I am always interested in seeing how people change over time and adapt to their new lives. I also like to see how different groups of people interact and how they respond to their desire of survival, which is why I really liked season 2. Since the group had a fairly secure place to live, it wasn’t just about running from place or place and we were able to take some time to have character development. Sure, running from zombies is tense and exciting, but the human aspect will always be the most interesting for me.
Speaking of the Walking Dead, many of you remember the Zainey Laney wax box I unboxed the other month when it was the Harry Potter theme. For the month of November, the theme is The Walking Dead, so I wanted to share that with you as well!
I have melted all of the scents except for “Pudding, Anyone?”, but it smells great on cold sniff! I can pick up on both the chocolate and banana and I am so excited to see how the scents blend together when warm!
My favorite scent this month is the one for Maggie, Born Leader. The lemongrass is strong, but not overpowering, then the strawberry and pineapple round it out and the eucalyptus is faint, but brings out the other scents. It is such a fresh, calming scent that I really enjoy having in my bedroom.
Southern Angel was a scent that had people on both sides of the fence. A lot of people who said they weren’t fans had only done a cold sniff. The coffee comes through strongly on the cold sniff and the cloves and mulled cider all kind of come through separately and not as a blended scent. If you’re a wax melt person, you know that cold sniff and warmed are very different things. I just recently popped this one in my warmer and I actually LOVE it. The coffee is not as strong and it blends in so well with the clove and mulled cider scents. They scents do not clash at all once it’s warm and it has a good throw without having the scent be too strong. It’s masculine without being super cologne scented.
Lucille is the other masculine scent this month. While masculine scents are not for everyone, I appreciate that Laney was trying to branch out from having just sweet and bakery scents in the box. This one was leather, fire and rain. This one warm is masculine and comforting. The leather comes through so well and the patchouli mixes with it so they’re both balanced. This one is such a good scent for fall and I love it. It’s a stronger scent, so make sure to only use one cube at a time, especially if it’s in a smaller room! I do agree with Laney, this is probably what Negan smells like!
Carol’s Cookies has chocolate chip and McIntosh apple scents. The apple scent is spot on! Being an upstate NY girl, I know and love my apples. I was so excited that this actually smelled like McIntosh apples! Carol’s secret ingredient in her cookies was applesauce, which is the reasoning for the scents. I loved the chocolate and apply scents blending together. I am biased though, I will always love apple scents!
This box is on sale now, be sure to check out the Zainey Laney site to order! There is also a pre-order for the December box, which is an advent style box, with a scent created by yours truly!!
Thank you for stopping by on my journey through the land of ZOMBIES! I hope you all will check out some of my film suggestions and of course, I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween! I will be back soon with my October empties post!