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They want to eat your brain: Zombie attack

If “28 Weeks Later” whets your appetite for more zombie gore, check out this undead to-do list… By Dave White
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

If the terrorists forced me to choose between people in rubber monster suits stomping all over Tokyo and a good intestines-munching zombie — and, really, God bless the USA and all our precious freedoms that I don’t — I’d probably choose the rubber-suited guy. But because “28 Weeks Later” opens this week, I’m here to talk about my second favorite class of monster citizen. And really, it’s a very close second. I love zombies.

They have pretty much everything going for them, the zombies. If created with love and care then they’re usually disgusting to behold, and that’s always preferable. They don’t give long-winded speeches about their upcoming plans because everyone knows that all they really want to do is eat live human flesh.

And they ordinarily don’t have feel-sorry-for-me back-stories to try to help you understand their true feelings and motives as zombies. Their job is simply to destroy everything in their path. And just like the shark in “Jaws,” you’re happy no matter what the outcome to their story.

If they get killed in the end then it’s because someone had to blast their brains out or blow them up somehow. So, you know, that’s awesome. And if they don’t get killed in the end then you, the viewer, are free to enjoy their non-stop reign of terror and blood-feasting well into multiple sequels. It’s always win-win with zombies.

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And “Land of the Dead,” which is kind of like “Dude, Where’s My Car?” but with zombies, is not so bad either. If you’re new to the world of the living dead then you need to start with them, definitely. Meanwhile, if you’re all caught up on the basics, check out some of these…

In no particular order, I would allow the following films to eat my brains for dessert:

1.  “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” (1972)
Some really aggressively annoying jerks decide that a mock-Satanic ritual in a cemetery is a fun night out. They raise the dead. The dead eat them. Then the dead steal the jerks’ boat. You’re on the side of the dead in this one.

See also: “The Blind Dead” (1971), where blind Spanish zombies steal horses for transportation to make up for the fact that they are blind and that the undead are notoriously slow.

2.  “Kung Fu Beyond the Grave” (1982)
A guy enlists the help of some hopping zombies in order to get revenge on the wizard who killed his father. (That’s how they move, by hopping. No, really, it’s a thing. There’s a whole subgenre of hopping vampire and related-ghoul kung fu movies out there.) Thing is, this wizard is so powerful he can summon the real Dracula out of thin air to help him battle the good guy’s army of the undead.

See also: “Kung Fu Zombie” (1982). It’s about a kung fu zombie. And there’s more hopping.

3. “Zombie” (1979)A nasty classic by which others are judged. It’s the one that stars Mia Farrow’s sister. It’s the one with the greatest tagline ever, “We Are Going To Eat You!” It’s the one originally titled (in its native Italy by director Lucio Fulci) “Zombi 2,” even though it’s not a sequel to anything. But the zombies are incredible. They’re gross. They go right for the eyeballs first. And they group-eat. If you’re a zombie fan, that’s sort of like Christmas.

See also: “Evil Dead 2” (1987), which is a sequel, and better than all the “Spider-Man” movies director Sam Raimi has made.

4.  “Les Revenants” (2004)
I like this recent French import (English title: “They Came Back”) about the dead returning to life because it’s not exactly a zombie movie. One day the cemetery graves open up and everyone resting there just goes back to their house and jobs like nothing ever happened. Meanwhile, the people they left behind are like, “Oh, uh… gee… good to see you… I guess. I mean, I kinda got remarried.” 

See also: “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?” (1964), director Ray Dennis Steckler’s teen-carnival-rock-and-roll mess where the zombies aren’t exactly zombies either, just these acid-disfigured hypnotized guys. Hence the “mixed-up” part.

5. “Dead-Alive” (1992)It had to have happened, right? Some parent letting their kids watch this early Peter Jackson movie after “Lord of the Rings”? And then the parent looking up from the newspaper to see that it’s a splatter-fest (a reported 700 liters of red goo used for the final scenes alone) and it has zombies having sex? By then, of course, it’s too late and the kid’s accidentally turned into a lifelong gore-hound. That’s how it happened to me. My parents let me watch anything. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

See also: “Grindhouse” (2007), because “Planet Terror,” the first half of its double-feature, is similarly splatter-happy and because you probably haven’t seen it yet, based on what I’ve read about its tanking box-office.

So that’s a good starter set of 10. I know zombie nerds are going to yell that I left off the very cool “Dawn of the Dead” remake and other excellent examples of undeadittude like “Pet Sematary,” “Shock Waves,” “White Zombie,” “Serpent and The Rainbow,” “Night of The Comet,” “Return of The Living Dead,” “28 Days Later,” “Shaun of the Dead” and a few dozen others. But all lists are subjective and incomplete in this life, possibly in the undead next life too.

Dave White is the author of “Exile in Guyville” and the film critic for Movies.com. Find him at www.imdavewhite.com.