Sunday, 24 April 2011

Shuffle, Shuffle, Moan, Shuffle, Groan, Scream, Run!!!

There seems to be myth perpetuating within horror that’s gathering speed at a frightening rate. On some levels it’s affecting the genre and passing off perfectly sound films as trash. This myth tries to affect the way writers, producers and directors come about their ideas and the way they transfer them to the page and ultimately the big screen. So, what is this argument? Zombies have set rules.
I’m not saying zombies don’t have rules, no not at all. It is screenwriting 101 that the universe you create must have rules that you abide by. However, the rules your zombies endure should be set by you and you alone. Have your zombies shuffle, have them run, have tearing up the road on a Harley Davidson just be sure you set the rules and you stick to them.

The rules that many believe to be gospel are long standing, dating back to George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”. These rules are only in place because Romero dared to challenge the existing, tired premise of what a zombie was though. Before Romero zombie didn’t crave flesh, most never killed and they were rarely actually dead. Pre-Romero zombies were brain dead plantation workers, zombified by a bokor.

Romero stripped the zombie subgenre down to its parts before rebuilding it into something new and relevant to the culture of the period. Romero, in an act not unlike the cadavers in his films, killed the genre, resurrected it and watched it take over the world. It was bold move but it revolutionised zombie cinema and now Romero is synonymous with the undead.  

Now it seems that anybody who tries to do the same is torn to shreds and cast asunder by the same people who praise Romero, often “fanboys” who would gladly shuffle off the end of the earth if George told them to. 

Now I admire Romero and what he did for the genre but am I the only person who sees the hypocrisy in this argument? How can people praise a film maker for being daring by turning a tired format into something new a fresh, yet write off anyone who tries it subsequently?
I have read numerous articles and blog posts in recent weeks declaring that zombies have run (or at least shuffled) their course, that they aren’t nearly as entertaining or terrifying as they once were, more shambolic than shambling. 

So, maybe it’s time that zombies evolved into something to cause us terror again because the truth is the audience has evolved too. The “Dawn of the Dead” remake and Charlie Brooker’s “Dead Set” showed how terrifying fast moving zombies can be and how much more relevant they are to our culture. In a new fast moving world of fast food, instant downloads, on demand TV and anything just click of a button away maybe it’s time our zombies picked up the pace a bit or run the risk of being left behind.


  1. Excellent post! I totally agree and think it's kind of funny how Romero set a new standard. I'm not much of a zombie person (I prefer other supernatural creatures) but I really enjoyed 28 Days Later. Much scarier to have to outsmart zombies than to just outrun them.

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  3. Thanks Midnyte. I enjoy zombie as much as any other horror if it's done well. 28 Days Later was fantastic and Dead Set was great too, if you've never seen it I recommend it. Otherwise, it's continental Europe leading the way again with REC and La Horde.

    Hi Misfit. Ginger Snaps is a superb film. I found totally by accident in a bargain bin before I had ever heard of it, I still think it's my favourite film I've watched not knowing much before hand. With the internet now that happens less and less.

  4. Good post. I appreciate your perspective on the weird hypocrisy some folks have about zombies. In art, there are no rules except those set by the artist. I'm all about some originality in the horror genre, whether it's zombies, slashers, monsters, or any other. I say bring it on.

    I totally agree about 28 Days/28 Weeks. Both fantastic movies that broke a mold. Of course, after they broke the mold they started projectile vomiting blood and flew into homicidal maybe it wasn't so great? Just kidding. The "28" zombies totally kick ass.

    Ginger Snaps is highly under-rated. it kinda' reminds me of Carpenter's, "The Thing". Totally got ranked out when it first came out and now it's considered a classic, and for good reason. Artistically done werewolf movies are a fantastic contribution to the world of monsters. I dig 'em.

    Thanks to everybody for sharing their thoughts, gratitude to The Fright Writer for posting.