Friday, 12 March 2010

Top Ten - Zombie Flicks

If there's one thing I hate more than blogs, it's top ten lists. So in a wholly appropriate act of perversity here's a top ten list of zombie flicks posted on my blog......

You won't find anything from the last decade on this list, as good as the likes of Rec and 28 Days Later might be they aren't classics yet IMHO. I'm also choosing to leave out foreign made flicks like Fulci's The Beyond as I feel they don't really fit this genre (they need a list all of their own), ah hell let's subtitle this Top Ten US/Canadian Zombie Flicks, OK, you happy now? See why I don't like Top Ten lists?

10. Night Of The Living Dead (Tom Savini, 1990)
Romero scripted pro-feminist colour remake. Pretty good.

9. The Serpent And The Rainbow (Wes Craven, 1987)
Bill Pullman gets zombified by demented Haitian chief of police.

8. Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1976)
Real-life porn diva Marilyn Chambers becomes the undead's very own Typhoid Mary.

7. Carnival Of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)
Dysfunctional female organist drifts through nightmare limbo of arthouse fun-fair expressionism.

6. Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1978)
Brilliantly incomprehensible dwarf zombie-in-a-can, funeral parlour space mystery. "Boooooooy!"

5. The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1982)
Raimi's hardcore first effort. Still pretty scary.

4. Day Of The Dead (George A Romero, 1985)
Mad scientist attempts to avert the apocalypse by getting zombies to read Stephen King novels. For some reason this plan is not entirely successful.

3. Dawn Of The Dead (George A Romero, 1979)
America eats it's own in shopping mall hell.

2. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (Sam Raimi, 1987)
Originally intended to be entitled Evil Dead 2: Who's Laughing Now, Raimi's sequel/remake comes on like the goriest movie the Three Stooges never made. With whiplash-inducing camerawork and dialogue reduced to a bare minimum - "Tool shed!" "Let's go!" - luckless hero Ash is once again trapped in a remote cottage (previously used in The Colour Purple) and assailed by demons that can only be despatched by "the act of bodily dismemberment". Raimi neatly gets around censors by replacing the Deadites' blood with gooey green slime and smoke, enabling him to fill the screen with flying body parts. That's not to say Evil Dead 2 is anaemic - anything but: the blood still flows, but out of more traditional places such as the human victims and, of course, the walls. Despite a very slight return to form in 2009's Drag Me To Hell it seems unlikely that Raimi will ever replicate these grand guignol excesses.
Best Bit: Ash getting his act together A-Team style, fitting his stump with a chainsaw: "Groovy!"

1. Night Of The Living Dead (George A Romero, 1969)
In the winter of 1968 - with no script, no professional actors and just $6000, mostly donated by a butcher that also provided the entrails - Pittsburgh art student George A Romero made the most influential horror film of the last 40 years. Like Hitchcock's psycho, Romero moved out of mythic darkness and into the bleached daylight of modern America. The film's plot - small group of people holed up in a farmhouse are besieged by flesh-eating zombies - is of less interest than what Romero does with it. A visually ugly, documentary-style welt of gore-realism, Night Of The Living Dead presents a nightmare world of no law, no order and no good-triumphing-over-evil. It also took horror into the realm of the political. Ben, the notional hero, is black. All the zombies are white. When white vigilantes finally come to the 'rescue' their advance looks just like another zombie attack. The films in it's wake were often gorier and occasionally more professional - but this is still the most terrifying one of all.
Best Bit: Romero's comment on the American family unit: a little zombie girl stabs her mother with a trowel. And then eats her.

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