Editor's note: Every week we ask people around the office a question about pop culture to see what makes them tick. With "The Walking Dead" returning this Sunday on AMC, we wanted to know which zombie movies or shows are their favorites.
I won't claim it's the best zombie movie -- it's not even out until 2018 -- but "The Cured" (Bac Films) seared itself into my mind when I saw it recently at the London Film Festival. Read my review here.
In "The Cured," a viral outbreak turns half the population into slavering, murderous carnivores, until a cure brings them back to normal. Unfortunately the former zombies can't forget what they did, and nor can the survivors forgive.
"The Cured" is more of a post-zombie movie, but of course it has the nail-biting suspense and gory scares you'd expect of the genre. And not only is it a taut, absorbing drama, it's also laden with thought-provoking subtext about forgiveness, reconciliation, extremism and much more. It's a great example of how monster movie tales can examine what's in our hearts and minds (and braaaaains).
"Dead Alive" (Trimark Pictures) is Peter Jackson's third feature length film and an essential entry into the absurd zombie canon. Lionel is a sad little man, with a crush on the shopkeepers daughter, Paquita. His domineering mother, Vera, disapproves and sets out to keep them apart. While spying on Lionel and Paquita on a date at the local zoo, Vera is bitten by the notorious rat monkey. She is afflicted with a mysterious illness that seemingly kills her. Instead she is transformed into a blood thirsty zombie, and proceeds to turn much of the town into her zombie horde.
"Dead Alive" is cartoonishly gory, best watched on an empty stomach. The film is so gory that censors in many countries insisted scenes be cut. In many ways it matches Jackson's first feature film, "Bad Taste," for cringe-worthy moments, albeit with better production value. One particular scene includes pre-zombie Vera's ear falling off and into her soup. She proceeds to dispassionately eat said ear as the other dinner guests stare on in abject horror. The rest of the movie is a torrent of blood, bile and body fluids, interrupted by the budding, campy romance between Lionel and Paquita.
Also, "Dead Alive" showcases the most awesome use of a lawnmower ever. I won't spoil it though; you'll just have to watch.
"Warm Bodies" (Summit Entertainment) is great because it takes everything that's wonderful about zombies -- the commentary about society being the monster, humanity's reactions to terrible situations, the gore -- and places it in a post-apocalyptic, Romeo and Juliet story. The best part about the film is R's (played by Nicholas Hoult) inner monologue when he's trying to not be awkward around Julie (played by Teresa Palmer). If you were ever an awkward high schooler on a date, you'd instantly relate to R.
My favorite has to be "Shaun of the Dead" It's fun. It's silly. It takes the piss out of nearly every zombie film made before or since. It's got Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (in what I believe was their first exposure to the US movie audience). It was written by Pegg and Edgar Wright, who himself has come to more prominence as a writer (and director) of films like last summer's excellent "Baby Driver."
"The Return of the Living Dead" (Orion Pictures) is the best zombie anything of all time. It's dark, scary, subversive and funny as all hell. Most of the zombies are fast, disgusting and love the taste of "Braaaiinnnssss." In fact, if you've ever wondered where the zombie trope of brain-craving zombies comes from, it's right here.
There are so many great, hilarious, quotable and disturbing moments in this film. My favorite has to be the way the late Don Calfa reacts to a reanimated cadaver hand-grabbing his leg. No, wait! It's the way the zombies attack the paramedics they set a trap for (yes, they're actually smart). So horrifying. So campy. So good.
Seriously, just watch it tonight if you haven't. You will not regret it.
The "iZombie" (Vertigo, Warner Brothers) TV series -- based on the DC Comics title of the same name -- is an interesting take on the zombie genre where the lead character is a former medical resident Liv Moore (Rose McIver) who accidentally becomes a zombie after attending a boat party where the zombie outbreak occurs. She abandons her former life as a human to work at the King County morgue where she eats the brains of the murder victims she autopsies.
Each time Liv eats a brain -- in very creative recipes like brain nachos or brain pho -- she temporarily takes on the personality traits and the memories of the victims -- which in turn makes her a very helpful sidekick to Seattle homicide detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), who doesn't know she's a zombie. Her pals Dr. Ravi Chakrabart (Rahul Kohli), Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) and Peyton Charles (Aly Michalka) offer plenty of comical commentary throughout the series.
While this is an interesting twist on the typical zombie character, Liv is both high-functioning and very witty. "iZombie" feels like a cross between "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Veronica Mars" but with brains on the menu. Plus the series was just renewed for a fourth season on the CW network. Be sure to binge-watch the entire series so far on Netflix.
I'm actually a huge fan of the zombie genre and love "The Walking Dead." With that in mind, the movie that still sticks out to me is "28 Days Later" (Fox Searchlight Pictures). The scene where Cillian Murphy's character gets out of the hospital, only to discover an empty London, is amazing. Plus, it's set beside a great song (East Hastings) from one of my favorite bands (Godspeed You! Black Emperor).
My favorite is "The Walking Dead" (AMC Studios) and I can't wait for the premiere of season 8 on Sunday. More than just a two-hour movie, the show evolves over time with characters I love from the beginning and new ones that join the group. What's particularly fascinating to me is the process of figuring out how to survive in a zombie-infested world.
The gore doesn't bother me (though there is plenty), but the show is more about the drama between the characters and how each deals with his or her harsh and deadly new reality. The unfortunate thing about any zombie show of course, is that you're going to inevitably lose some of your favorite characters. But with the exception of a slow season 2, I've really loved the ride so far and can't wait to see what happens next. Special request: Please don't kill Maggie, Rick, Carol or Darryl. Frankly, if Darryl gets killed off, you might as well end the show. Fans know what I'm talking about.