Remember our Zombie special? If you don't, you really should listen here. As the top Zombie film fanatic in the West Midlands, Will Mckeown really is the guy to go to: representing B-Film and studying for an Masters specialising in 'Zombie Movies' at the University of Birmingham, he guided us through the great, the generic and the downright gruesome. If you happened to miss our show last month, or just really fancy a bit of zombie horror on your Bank Holiday Monday, in true Screen Brum style, here is his top five zombie films out there. Read, watch and be afraid...
5. REC 2007 (Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza)
REC earns its place on this list for its engaging combination of found footage and documentary-style film making. As a result, it builds tension and situates its horrific events in ways that many other films of the genre can only aspire to. Add to that an interesting twist to the origin of the outbreak and a truly harrowing final scene and we have what can only be described as a ‘hard-hitter’ of the zombie film movement.
4. The Girl with all the Gifts 2016 (Colm McCarthy)
In at number four is the first of two contributions from the British contingent of zombie culture, The Girl with all the Gifts. With sections filmed in Digbeth, this film is yet another example of the achievements of Birmingham’s thriving artistic community. Many have noted that the zombie film genre is becoming increasingly difficult to innovate in; however, The Girl with all the Gifts does so in style. Its ending defies expectation with a terrifying and nihilistic vision of the future that leaves us with more questions than answers. This is a different approach to the end of the world that somehow manages to be both refreshing and captivating.
3. Train to Busan 2016 (Yeon Sang-Ho)
South Korea’s jewel of the zombie apocalypse attracted over eleven million movie goers in its home country alone. Train to Busan is my personal favourite zombie film to date and is only surpassed by other films that have contributed more significantly to the genre. At times the cinematography is masterful and the confined space of the train presents a dilemma for our protagonists as they are forced to navigate the zombie horde at close quarters. The solutions they come up with are both innovative and thrilling and the film’s final scenes stay with us long beyond the end credits.
2. 28 Days Later 2002 (Danny Boyle)
28 Days Later is one of the main players in the modern zombie scene. Its creations can run, they are infected with rage and their infection can spread with the mixing of bodily fluids. The film stretches the zombie film and the genre thrives because of this. The sequence that Introduces Jim (Cillian Murphy) expertly captures a portrait of ruined capitalist excess as brands and advertising banners become parodies of what they once were as no one is around to see them.
1. The Night of the Living Dead 1968 (George Romero)
Was there ever going to be a different entry topping this list? Night of the Living Dead has revolutionized the zombie film genre almost beyond recognition. The pre-Romero zombie was more closely associated with hypnosis, slavery and Haitian cabalists. The very idea of the zombie was once defined with being controlled by someone else (usually a sinister voodoo king), but Romero’s creation changed all that. A post-Romero zombie embodies a whole-scale lack of control and an unending hunger, its ideology shifts from slavery to consumerism. Terraforming the landscape of the genre in such a dramatic fashion is surely an achievement worthy of recognition.
Screen Brum is every two weeks, Friday at noon on Brum Radio.