Zombies are a lot like pirates. Once The “Industry” realized they had a re-energized hit-maker on their hands, they latched onto the idea like a leech, pumping out titles en masse. But without looking back to the classics, where would Tinseltown’s “inspirado” have taken us over the past ten years? Hollywood’s certainly put together some decent tales of the undead, but couldn’t have crafted it all together without relying pretty heavily on a few time-tested, albeit slightly unoriginal, concepts.
Shaun of the Dead
Concept for Success: Satire
Sure, it might be summarizing the genre as a whole, but for the fair weather film fan, there’s no better choice to make on a zombie film than Shaun of the Dead. Not only does it provide a near-complete overview of zombies throughout the history of film, but also celebrates the very idea the living dead by turning in a story that truly stands on its own.
Land of the Dead
Concept for Success: Sequel
One of the more recent entries into the Dead series, Land of the Dead features zombie storytelling as only possible by the man himself, director and series creator George Romero. On top of all that, it also features a memorable and largely undiscovered performance by the late, great Dennis Hopper too, in itself worth checking out the film.
Dawn of the Dead
Concept for Success: Reboot
Without first successfully re-imagining Romero’s 1978 classic, director Zack Snyder would likely have never been able to provide such over-stylized classics as 300 and Watchmen. Still certified as the freshest of his film efforts by Rotten Tomatoes, Snyder’s Dawn reboot is a lot like a living, breathing version of Left 4 Dead, no video game hardware (or attention span) required.
Concept for Success: Cameos
Ever wanted to force Mark Zuckerberg to deal with the hordes of zombie “games” plaguing Facebook to this very day? Well, Zombieland is as close as you’ll get. Topped off by a memorable turns from Woody Harrelson and Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg, and sprinkled with amazing cameos by icons like Bill Murray, and you’ve got a fully baked, zombie franchise.
28 Days Later
Concept for Success: Humanize
It’s not often that an Academy Award-winning director has an epic zombie movie on their queue of accomplishments. Enter director Danny Boyle. Often listed amongst the greatest horror films of the modern film era, 28 Days Later does an uncanny job at combining complicated political allegory and in-depth humanist drama for a zombie story unlike any other.
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