There are few sticklers in nerd culture I dislike more than the “zombie corrector”. Come on, we all know atleast one. You are sitting there, drink in hand talking about how great 28 Days Later was for the zombie genre, and they come over and quickly point out how, technically, (use Simpsons “comic book guy” voice as you read this next line) Those are NOT zombies, those are people infected with “rage”.
And then they stand there, all smug. Listen, that is a fine-print bullsh*t. We all know we are just watching reinventions of the zombie genre, but there is always that one guy, who feels completely obligated to tell you how you are wrong, how they are not zombies, and how it is a virus. I decided the only way we beat our enemies is we allow ourselves, for one brief moment, to become them. so for this article, I am giving voice to that self-righteous ass, and saying it all before he can. But make no mistakes about it, these ARE zombie movies, no matter what I am about to say. For best effect, I really do suggest reading this in the voice of the “comic book guy” from The Simpsons. Also, look out for spoilers if you have not seen these films.
The 28 Days Saga
What they really are: Infected with the rage virus.
Why is “flaming Leatherface” chasing The Scarecrow through Gotham?
Though I like the idea that simpletons think this is a zombie film, that is like saying someone who has Cancer has AIDS, because they are “all the same”. Are these “zombies” eating you? Are they reanimated dead people? Than how are the antagonists in this film to be confused with zombies? Because they look like people? Because they come after humans?
Nope, sorry, NOT zombies.
These are human beings infected with a human-created virus that makes them into rabid killing machines with no sense of reason. Which is to say, again, clearly not a zombie. Zombies or not, this is the best shot in the arm the “genre” ever got. The runners showed me no matter how much nerd prowess I have, if cardio is involved, I am f*cked.
What they are really: Woman infected with a disease that turns them into men-killing mutants. I.E woman. No, no, I am just kidding ladies, you know I love you.
It is Shawn of the Dead meets Swingers meets Snatch, and it’s f*cking awesome.
I loved Doghouse, and stand behind the belief that it is one of the best horror movies that nobody knows exists. I can also understand why people MIGHT mistake it for a zombie film at first glance, but as soon as you get to the dinner table scene, any thoughts that these things might be zombies is out the window.
Here, just watch the trailer for Doghouse to get a hint of what I am talking about:
I bet you can’t watch this trailer and then NOT see the film.
What they are really: Um, Mutants. Duh.
Sort of looks like the creatures from The Descent had sex with the orcs from the Lord of the Rings saga, and this was born.
Goodness, why is this movie even here?
Well, I have heard it brought up in the “zombie genre” discussions before, even on its own IMDB page, and I can almost understand how it gets confused for a zombie movie. They are people who turn into mutants, but they turn slowly, and acquire a taste for human flesh as a result of said change. The scenes where the “mutants” are rushing the protagonists of the film do hint of “running zombies”, but regardless of what it hints at, these are mutants, not zombies.
It even says so in the title. Having that out of the way, the movie features a truly interesting love-story subplot, that drives this movie above many of its competitors in the “zombie-not-zombie” genre.
What they really are: Demons
I would already be cutting her face off, well before she even revealed to me she was evil. That is why I am not allowed to hold children anymore.
This one was a maybe right up until the second installment. We all held on to the chance that this was a zombie film, even though many signs pointed otherwise. But then, in the second film, we learn what the first film only hinted at. Though they turn when bitten, and they look like people, and they growl and eat flesh, these are NOT zombies. These are people infected with mass demon possession. Oh, that old fallback!
This one may have been hinted at from the very first film, but still, mass demonic possession was a pretty cool angle, up until the third film, but I already talked that subject to death. Still though, zombies or demons, I think REC is one of the best horror films ever made.
Night of the Creeps
What they really are: Infected with slugs (?)
It may walk like a zombie, and moan like a zombie, but it is a slug that they swallowed. WhatHUH?!
This one is tough, because REC ended up doing this, too, and I didn’t even touch on it above, but I also feel obligated to tell you that this is an awesome eighties movie, and still to this day, and incredibly fun ride to take. My lady isn’t into horror, and even she loved this movie. Why? Well, it has cheesy eighties style, silly eighties humor, bad (yet awesome) eighties special effects, and it has what may very well be the best tagline of any horror movie ever: Good news ladies, your boyfriends are here. The bad news? They’re dead.
Sorry but that is golden.
Also, whoever did all the voiceover work for eighties horror trailers, thank you. Just thank you.
What is there NOT to love about that film? But still, no matter what your brain tries to tell you when you see them shambling to and fro, these are NOT zombies. Slug life, son!
What they really are: I refuse to ruin this revelation for you.
Make no mistakes about it, Pontypool is one of the GREATEST horror movies I’ve ever seen.
It sucks when one of the best zombie movies you have ever seen is not a zombie movie. It really does suck. Because you may know it to be a reinvention for the genre (sorry I have used that term so much, but I am doing that for a reason), but yet, it is NOT a zombie film, so you can’t give it “zombie” credit. For me, the reveal on Pontypool was SO interesting, and SO original, that I refuse to ruin it here for the few who have not seen it (few as in many, go buy this movie right now) but it is more an “infected” movie than a zombie movie.
Damn infected, changing up the game on us. Regardless, this movie undeniably oozes awesomesauce through its pores.
What they really are: Infected by a “signal” sent through electronics.
” We control the horizontal, we control the vertical.”
Alright, so this may be a veiled allegory for humans dependency on technology, and how that dependency can become dangerous. It may also feature people turning into mindless animals who only want to kill, but the one thing y0u won’t find in this movie are “zombies”, despite how it comes across.
What you will find, though, is an absolutely captivating horror film, that plays off the zombie-theme of people becoming the monsters, and only wanting to hurt other “people” as a result of that. It is funny at times, and brutal at times, but it is a thoroughly engrossing films that puts a new spin on an old idea. A running theme of this entire list, if you ask me.
The Honorable (Not) Undead:
The Crazies: Much like The Signal, this film plays off of the idea that humanity is one bad breeze away from going South on itself. Wow, that sounded wonderfully erotic.
Planet Terror: This is non-zombies done just right. And the Grindhouse feel that Robert Rodriguez put on the film only sold the aesthetic that much more.
Mulberry St: A zombie-like plague turns humans into rat-people who eat flesh. This movie seemed like it could have sucked, but it was actually pretty badass.
I hate when I am all prepared to battle zombies, and I find out a bit too-late that they are rat people.