FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Feb 7, 2019

Desperately Seeking Zombies

I recently finished a run-through of Resident Evil 2, the new remake of the classic 1998 game. It's a terrific update-ening, full of puzzles and action and gore, gore, gore, baby! Oh lawd the gore. The game is gross with a capital EWW.

Bodies are torn and chewed, heads explode in a fountain of the stuff inside heads, guts spill all over the's not a game for the squeamish. As a devout lover of the original game and heroine Claire Redfield and, well, all things Resident Evil, I seriously dug it. Sure, the A/B scenario ("2nd Run" in the remake) is seriously janked, but we can't have it all, I guess. (I'm not going to explain the whole A/B scenario concept to those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about because one, do you care? And two, this isn't a full review of the game. And three! Resident Evil 2 isn't even really my point here, just hold on.)

One thing the game gets right (and I mean really, really right) is zombies. These are absolutely the best zombies I've seen in a zombie-flavored game, and likely the best zombies I've seen in any media. Their movements and postures vary greatly. They hiss and shriek when they spot you and shamble your way, arms outstretched. They're slow–no rage-y sprinters here–but if you get too close they'll snatch at you. They take a lot to put down, and if you don't dispatch them completely they will just. Keep. Coming. Blast off both arms and both legs and they'll still try to get you, worming their torsos around and snapping their teeth when you run by. You're not always safe behind closed doors, even less so behind windows, and they can climb stairs. They are slow, steady, relentless, and terrifying.

From time to time I am gripped by Resident Evil Mania, wherein I just want to consume all things Resident Evil. They're the only games I want to play. Heck, I even (re)read the absolutely trashy novel series. (I can't believe I just admitted that.) Obviously the Mania set in after I finished RE2, but instead of starting a new game or something I found myself wanting to take in a bit of zombie cinema.

Now you might think a-DOY, so you watched some Resident Evil movies! I mean, that's like a guaranteed a-DOY. But no, my friend, I do not turn to the Resident Evil film series when I am in the throes of Resident Evil Mania, nor when I am in the throes of zombie mania, nor anytime ever. That franchise is its own thing, you know what I mean? And I'm not super interested in that thing. (However, Anthony and I will be covering the series at some point on Gaylords of Darkness, so I'll have to check out parts 3-936445 one day. I've seen 1 and 2 already, and that was enough! But I'm sure I'll embrace the cheesiness when the time comes, worry not.)

All of this got me to finally watch a film that's been lingering in my queue for well over a year now: the 2016 South Korean zombies on a train flick Train to Busan. Hey! It's as enjoyable as everyone says. It's about a father and daughter on a train (you know...a train to Busan) that quickly fills up with zombies. What's not to love?

Well, yes, fine, at times it's a little too computer for me, particularly when these insta-turn, speedy, rage-y zombies pile up and pour over each other à la World War Z. But it fits the tone of the film: this is action-flavored zombie cinema. Speedy train, speedy undead, it's all genuinely a nail-biter right up until the end.

The supporting characters are terrific and get you all, like, carin' about 'em and stuff. As I am strictly an EAT THE RICH kind of lady it's possible that I enjoyed the class warfare aspects of it the most. It ticks all the zombie cinema must dos: you lose some people you care about, you lose some people you are really psyched to lose, you wonder how you would fare in this situation. Well, I don't wonder. I know I would be toast in the first five minutes of the outbreak, if not sooner. I have come to accept the fact that I am not post-apocalyptic material, and that's fine. I just wanna leave a pretty corpse!

I've had worse experiences on public transportation, tbh

But! As this is not a review of Resident Evil 2, this is also not a review of Train to Busan. So why am I wasting everyone's time? Well! It's because after I finished Train to Busan, I wanted more zombie cinema. I browsed Netflix and shuffled through Shudder looking for something to satisfy my flesh-eating urge for flesh-eaters. Something good I should say. And reader mine, it seems ridiculous to say, but say it I must, for it is how I feel: I feel like I've seem 'em all.

Now surely I haven't seen every zombie movie out there. I'm hoping that I haven't seen all the good ones, but...

I've seen all the Romero Whatever of the Deads, including all the ones I wish I hadn't.

I've seen the Italian gross-out gut-munchers. I love 'em even when they're not great! They're crazy. I mean...Peter Bark, amirite?

I'm not a huge horror-comedy fan, so Shaun of the Dead, Fido, Dead Alive, and Cemetery Man are enough for me.

I've seen enough alt-zombie / zombie-adjacent kind of stuff to get my fill. Pontypool is great, so is Deathdream. Night of the Creeps.

I've seen European art house stuff, Grapes of Death and whatnot.

Some films are dabbling in "what about if they can be cured / return to society" themes and while that's a fine idea, I'm not particularly interested at the moment.

I've indulged in Nazi zombies or zombie Nazis or whatever. Dead Snow, Shock Waves, and so on.

I've gone the traditional / voodoo route with, like, I Walked with a Zombie and The Serpent and the Rainbow, etc.

Look man, I just want zombies doing their zombie thing. Rise from the grave, eat people. There must be something out there I haven't seen yet, something that will satisfy this Resident Evil (tasty) itch. Right? What am I missing? Has there been a zombie movie that's eaten your face right off? Have I reviewed it already? Let me know. My Mania has not yet abated!


Jason Adams said...

Have you watched the Netflix series KINGDOM yet? It's set about a zombie plague in medieval South Korea!!! I haven't watched it yet, I am going to start as soon as I finish RUSSIAN DOLL (which isn't about zombies but does get kind of existentially scary towards the end and is otherwise super), but I have only heard good things

Stacie Ponder said...

I'm not thrilled that it's dubbed, but it looks so good, I need to give it a shot regardless. And RUSSIAN DOLL, ffs. I don't know why it's always so hard for me to commit to a show! I'm always so behind.

CashBailey said...

ONE CUT OF THE DEAD from Japan is absolutely the best zombie movie since TRAIN TO BUSAN. In fact, think it may even be better.

I found that last RESIDENT EVIL movie utterly intolerable. It's like Anderson hasn't watched an action movie since 2002 and takes the quick-cut hyper editing style to new levels of incoherence.

He's either covering up sloppy action choreography and/or dodgy CGI or he's just incompetent at directing action.

I look forward to hearing the Gaylords eventually offer their opinions on it.

Miskatonic said...

Kingdom was great! It wasn't dubbed.

Steve said...

Recent zombie favs:

- The Girl With All The Gifts (definitely a "what if they can be cured?" one though)

- Ravenous (Les Affamés) (2017)

Zombie adjacent:

Raw (Grave) (2016)


Dance of the Dead (with zombies that actually moan "braaaaains!" So rare!)

Marvin the Macabre said...

I hear Cargo is good. Can't verify it though.

matango said...

I dug Anna and the Apocalypse, which is obviously not a straightforward zombie movie.

Regarding Kingdom, you can turn off the dubbing. I don't know what my default settings are, but the intro bit thing that start on Netflix is in Korean with English subtitles for me (I haven't watched it yet).

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks for the recommendations, y'all! Sounds like there's some gems I ain't done seen yet for sure

Mark said...

I'll throw in another vote for One Cut of the Dead (I guess it's not out yet in the US, but if you ever get the chance to watch it, it's great!) I don't even particularly enjoy zombie movies, but that one did it for me...

AndrewKach said...

I'm way late to this party, but I don't see Burial Ground in your list. It's not that it's a great movie. But there's a part. Worth it for that alone.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh yes, I've seen Burial Ground and witnessed Peter Bark in his glory! I dig that nutso movie.

AndrewKach said...

Oh man, it doesn't look my other comment posted.

These are all strictly 80's but I think you enjoy those. Maybe you've seen them already and just not reviewed them:

* The Dark Power: (including an ol' fashion ass-whooping with a whip!)
* Night Life:
* The Video Dead:
* The Midnight Hour:
(Levar Burton!)