The recent passing of Clayton Hill ("Sweater Zombie" from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead) has got me thinking about all those undead folk who've made an impression over the years. They (usually) don't speak and they're often one of a thousand walking corpses trying to eat the ragtag group of survivors, but we remember them regardless. Actually, horror fans don't simply remember these zombies, we celebrate them. Be honest, horror nerds- if a woman were to come up to you on the street and say "I was Majorette Zombie!" you'd know exactly who she was, right? And you'd be psyched to meet her, you know it...although you'd wonder why she felt the need to approach you and boast of her claim to fame a propos of nothing.
Here are a few of my favorite American Rotties.
1. Nameless Zombie (Dawn of the Dead '04)
She died without a name, which is sad. Then she came back to life and hauled ass trying to put the bite on Sarah Polley, which is understandable but not very nice. I like to pretend it's actually Dame Edith Massey as a zombie, which is a dream of mine that sadly will never be- at least never in the fictional sense. I suppose if there should ever be a zombie apocalypse, then the late Massey will rise from the grave. I won't know how to feel.
2. Softball Zombie (Land of the Dead)
She seems kind of depressed and sort of nice, but in the end I doubt if she'd want to be friends.
3. Cirque du Zombay (Night of the Living Dead '90)
I wonder how that happened. To be frank, he's probably better off undead.
4. Graveyard Zombie (Night of the Living Dead '68)
The one that started it all, and one of my absolute most favoritest. The fact that he really was coming to get Barbra is what's known as ironicalosity.
5. Ghetto Zombie (Dawn of the Dead '78)
If only for the hair and laid-back attitude.
6. Dr. Tongue (Day of the Dead '85)
Total gross-out icon. Great title sequence. I love Day of the Dead.
7. Nurse Zombie & Sweater Zombie (Dawn of the Dead)
If you watch Dawn of the Dead and pay close attention, you'll see that Sweater Zombie really gets around- he's outside doing his thing, then he's taking a ride on the escalator, then he's back outside with his partner-in-crime (and off-screen wife) Nurse Zombie (Sharon Ceccatti). You have to admire his moxie and his sweater vest.
8. Toothy Zombie (Day of the Dead)
Toothy is one of the zombies corralled by the evil Army dudes so Dr. Logan can get his experimentation on- in other words, she's one of those zombies that gets the audience asking "OMG, who are the real monsters here? Is it us? I'm not sure. I mean, we're not trying to eat anybody, but on the other hand, we're jerks..." Her "every other chomper" look totally influenced the zombie designs in my comic They Won't Stay Dead!- those janky teefs are how you know they're zombies!
Proving that zombies are grosser than we'd initially realized, Bug Eating Zombie plucks a bug off a tree and gulps it down- as...you know...her name suggests. Did you know that Bug Eating Zombie is portrayed by hot piece Marilyn "Mrs. Cooper" Eastman? It's true. Dazzle your friends with trivia!
10. Bub (Day of the Dead)
11. Silent Movie Zombie (Night of the Living Dead)
I. Love. Him. I love how he totally overacts when the fire is waved in his face...but what I love even more is that after he overcomes his fear of the flames, Silent Movie Zombie gets irritated by them. He RULES.
Nathan Grantham is an anomaly in the zombie world- he can talk! He has a motivation for killin' beyond simple hunger! Best of all, he rises from the grave- I really wish we'd see more of that in zombie cinema.
Something just occurred to me. Let's think about what Grantham did after he decapitated poor old Aunt Sylvia, shall we, because he did a lot: he put her head on a tray. He found the frosting, then went in the silverware drawer for a knife. He frosted her head very carefully, then went searching for candles. After cramming them into her head, somehow (let's be honest, it probably took a while to get them to stay standing), he got matches or a lighter and lit them all. And he had to time all of this very carefully in order to surprise Cass and Richard as they approached the door! What a go-getter.
So, who's the most memorable zombie to you? Machete Zombie? Naked Zombie? Your mom?
Ha ha, I made that last one up.
Or did I?