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By Martin Felle
What to do in a zombie apocalypse? Martin Felle advises.
The zombie genre is well-established and seemingly limitless in its ream of terrifying material. But just how helpful are these films in telling us how to act in the face of an unremitting horde of the undead? It’s time to barricade the door and windows, and get out the ghoulish movies!
1) Guns make excellent legs. Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is a terrific indulgence of the zombie/exploitation school, released alongside Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof as one half of Grindhouse (2007). A go-go dancer named Cherry (Rose McGowan) loses one leg to the incredulously splatter-prone monsters, and later in the film she has a gun affixed in its place, leading to all the explosive ass-kicking you would expect from such a prodigious limb. The film is so true to its premise of zombies and action over the telling of a story, that a faux-missing reel midway through the tale leaves a vast and unexplained hole in the plot, which (as you can imagine) bestows endless enjoyment to the viewer.
2) Don’t bring Barbara. George Romero’s slingshot to horror stardom, Night of the Living Dead (1968), is amazing in showing the crude origins of the genre, with the kind of key themes (like holing up in a house against the weak but numerous masses) which would be a tad cliché in a modern zombie flick. Duane Jones plays the resourceful Ben remarkably, one of the more believable characters in the film, and was the first black actor to be cast as the star in a horror movie. Conversely, Romero presents some bizarrely helpless women, who become catatonic at the appearance of any peril.
3) Leave the doors locked. More specifically, don’t turn off the psychotic little AI which stops the bad things coming out – even if it does slice your friends into bite size chunks, as in Resident Evil (2002). Directed by Paul Anderson, is my favourite computer game-based movie, and makes for an exquisitely claustrophobic and panic-ridden story as a small group of commandos and some civilians make their way through a horrifying underground labyrinth. Milla Jovovich’s portrayal of the amnesiac Alice allows the viewer entry to this strange corpocratic world, with a sense of nakedness as the walls close in around the uninfected survivors.
4) Run away! Faster! The first time you watch it, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2002) will make bad things happen to the contents of your bowels, with a cry of: “What the… these zombies can run?!” Not a brisk jog, getting tad out of breath, but a relentless sprint, like a speeding bag of vicious murder. This movie was a breath of fresh air for zombie movies at the time, depicting the antagonist creatures as more like rabid animals than ambulating amalgamations of rot. No longer is it safe to hide in the comfy house, you have to get away, and in a vehicle, because these things are a lot fitter than you are – a definite must for a film marathon.
5) Go to the pub. And don’t use the Z-word! Simon Pegg and Nick Frost run from some agreeably slow zombies in Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright. Except they don’t call them zombies, thus sticking to the unwritten rule of any undead picture. A marvellous horror romcom with a brilliantly written story, crammed full of gags, celebrating a vast spectrum of horror movies – Shaun (Pegg), Ed (Frost) and friends decide to barricade themselves… in their local pub. Not a bad decision on any account.