I've always liked a good ghost story, but zombies leave me cold. I mean, how can anything with rapidly decomposing brain cells moving at the speed of a sloth possibly be scary? Why don't the living in
these movies stick out their tongues and dance circles around them? It's because zombies are relentless, say some; they never tire. Yeah, but I could just pull a Will Smith on them and create a Manhattan penthouse fortress, the way he does in I am Legend, based on the book by the same name.
It seems as though writers and directors have finally figured out that slow-as-molasses zombies aren't all that frightening. The director of Dead Snow has certainly turned up the horror. A group of medical students spends the weekend at a remote skiing cabin in Norway. Throw in a strange old codger with stories about evil lurking in the hills, and the problem of having to go to the outhouse in the dark, a horror in itself, and you've got a pretty good start. But then add...wait for it...Nazi zombies! Yes, it's a great concept but it's a bit over the top when legions of them start popping out of the snow to eat our protagonists' vital organs. The problem is that, as with many zombie movies, when you try to escalate the fear it seems inevitable that you stray into caricature or satire. Or maybe that's the point - the appeal is knowing the whole conceit will eventually dissolve into the absurd.
One movie that embraces the absurd from the outset is Zombieland- sure to become a cult classic. An obsessive-compulsive, agoraphobe hooks up with a pugnacious, zombie hating Twinkie-loving cowboy, played by Woody Harrelson. They make their way across the wasteland that is America after the zombie apocalypse. It's great laugh out loud fun, and personal thanks to the director who realizes that we only need to see the undead munching on a body part once or twice to get the point. Our imaginations will fill in the blanks. This and another low-comedy zombie flick, Shaun of the Dead would make for a great movie night, providing vegetarian food is served.
A recent interest in all things zombie means that there's plenty of fodder for fans. The book World War Z by Max Brooks recounts the story of the zombie wars that almost put an end to life as we know it. If only all zombies would heed David Murphy'sZombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead. Find more zombie related material with the keywords "zombies" and "fiction", "zombies" and "humor". Oh, and be careful out there.