Sunday, June 19, 2005

Coming Friday - Zombies!

There's lots of talk going on now about Hollywood being in a historic summer slump, and I'm not helping. I'm just not excited about the movies coming out this summer - Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Nope. Angelina Jolie playing opposite Brad Pitt in some flashy assassin movie just seems like the bastard lovechild of Jerry Bruckheimer and John Woo. With maybe a Wachowski brother thrown in for good measure.

Fantastic Four? Thanks, I'll pass. I was more a Spiderman kid, and now that I'm not a kid, the latest Spiderman just seems stupid and mealy-mouthed. Given that
the Fantastic Four were always pretty lame, I won't be in line to see this superhero movie, either.

Maybe - Maybe - Batman Begins. I'm not sure, since the last few Batman biopics have sucked, thanks to casting
Val Kilmer and My Least Favorite Actor in the title roles. People I know who have seen it have said it's good, but if history is any lesson, people I know don't know anything about movies.

War of the Worlds might be worthwhile. But
Tom Cruise - and now Katie Holmes, too - is clinically insane, and Steven Spielberg's latest efforts have been self-indulgent yawners (well, at least A.I. was, and I'm still angry with him for that).

I am, however, looking forward to one film opening this Friday - George A. Romero's
Land of the Dead. I know what some of you are thinking - "Isn't that a zombie movie? Aren't zombie movies supposed to be horrible?"

The answers are "Yes" and "Well, yes, but..."

I like zombie movies, particularly Romero's, and here's why. The movies were always marketable because they were gory and shocking. The gross-out factor is always going to make lots of money (studio executives, please take note), because people like to be shocked. A prediction - anything rated "PG-13" this summer isn't going to make as much as you'd hoped. In fact, look at
Frank Miller's Sin City if you need evidence.

Back to the zombies. Without getting into too much plot analysis, it can be generally said that Romero's zombies are more plot devices than characters. That's an easy observation most miss, because they're too mortified by the fact that this or that zombie is missing parts of his face to realize that zombies have no lines (they're dead) and therefore are used for a very different purpose.

Another thing about zombies in Romero's movies is that they keep multiplying. There are more and more of them as time goes on (zombiism is spread, after the initial event that starts the whole process, by biting). What this all translates to is that the zombies are a force of nature, part of the environment that the surviving human characters are forced to deal with.

It's here that we start to see the real meat - heh - in zombie movies. The characters are forced to deal with the oncoming mob of reanimated corpses, and we usually find out that they are their own worst enemies. The zombie film became Romero's social commentary vehicle. I suppose we should be glad he didn't have blogs around when he made his first cult classic.

Anyway, I'll definitely be going to Land of the Dead. One other good thing about zombies is that they explode nicely.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville! Hooray for traffic overflow!