With the Train to Busan (2017) bursting on the screens and the announcement of an inevitable ‘American Remake’, I thought it would be a good time to look back on some of the classic zombie films from around the world.
Night of The Living Dead (1968)
There is often a debate about which of George A. Romero’s Living Dead series is his best. Personally, I am a night person and I love the film which started it all. Self-funded and filmed over a year, Night of the Living Dead was shot on black and white 35mm under the original title Night of the Flesh Eaters. Ground breaking at the time, this not only created the first zombie movie, but also broke taboos by having a black male lead.
Zombies have evolved over the years, become faster, smarter and more violent to satisfy the needs of the audience. However, people still continue to credit Night of the Living Dead as the template for zombie horror and the immortal line “They’re coming to get you Barbara” still remains one of the most recognisable lines from any horror.
Zombie Flesh Easters – Aka Zombie 2 (1979)
Although America is responsible for the current remake craze, in the 80’s the unofficial remake market was booming with cheap rip offs from Italy. A great example is Zombie Flesh Eaters, which was renamed Zombie 2 in some countries where it was marketed as a sequel to Dawn of the Dead (1978).
Zombie Flesh Eaters divides horror fans, which is mainly due to the slow pace of the film. But what it may lack in pace, it makes up for in some amazing set pieces. Although I feel this film has more to offer (if you can stay awake) Zombie Flesh Eaters is best known for two amazing scenes. The first ‘eye-watering’ scene where a woman gets her eye slowly pierced with a large door splinter (forget the tweezers) and the second, an ultimate battle between zombie and shark. The latter may not seem so amazing following the recent influx of CGI shark films, but this was made before there was CGI and they didn’t pay out for a robotic shark like in Jaws (1975) either. The scene involves a battle underwater with a real shark, which ends up with both the zombie and shark taking a bite out of each other. I won’t spoil the outcome but it’s as crazy as you would expect and well worth watching for this alone.
Brain Dead – Aka Dead Alive (1992)
Before the Oscar winning Peter Jackson left the shire to begin his multi-million, big screen adaption of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 – 2003) , he was creating some of his most inventive features on a shoe string budget. It was here he made his name by pushing the tongue straight through the cheek of horror. Taking inspiration from Evil dead 2 (1987), Braindead doesn’t take itself too seriously throwing in a series of over the top slapstick situations filled with dark humour and gore. There are so many acts of dismemberment throughout the film, but a scene in which the lead character Lionel mutilates a horde of zombies with a lawnmower remains one of the bloodiest scenes ever.
REC. successfully utilises the found footage style, which works well to make you feel involved with the characters. Cleverly using a news camera crew and reporter, you also get a more professional footage, without too much of the shaky cam. There is an intensity in the final half of the film, which was created by keeping the actors unaware of the events until the day of the shoot. In the case of a young fireman falling from the stairs, no one was told this was going to happen. This is reflected perfectly on screen, as the characters were naturally left on edge.
There is an American remake for those who don’t like subtitles called Quarantine (2008), although it doesn’t come close to capturing the tense atmosphere of the original.