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Humanizing the Undead: Are Murderous Zombies Passé?

Zombies

This weekend Maggie, a film about a father who stays by his daughter’s side after she becomes infected by a zombie virus, received a limited theatrical release. It has received mostly positive reviews, with many of the positives pointing out the unique take on the zombie genre. This is mostly a true statement, but it’s not the first film (or television show, for that matter) to take one of its zombie characters and put them at the forefront of the narrative. With films like Warm Bodies and Life After Beth, and TV series like the CW’s iZombie (which just scored a second season), the humanization of zombies has become the new trend. Are the murderous zombies of some of the best horror classics a thing of the past?

Ever since George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was released in 1968, zombies became synonymous with undead flesh-eating cannibals. Though it was hardly the first zombie movie ever made (that would be 1932’s White Zombie), it redefined the term “zombie” in the horror genre.

Nearly 50 years later, Romero’s undead zombies have arguably lost a bit of their luster. We saw a resurgence in the genre back in 2004 with Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake (running zombies!), and AMC’s The Walking Dead is the most-watched show on cable television. Other than 2013’s World War Z, which grossed $540 million worldwide, zombies in film haven’t made much of a splash.

What we have seen recently is a trend in making a zombie the main characters of their own vehicles. In Warm Bodies, we actually get to hear R’s very human thoughts. He’s just incapable of vocalizing them. This was taken one step further in Life After Beth, as we were able to slowly witness one girl devolve from a human being to a full blown zombie (very much like Maggie, but from a comedic point of view). Now, with iZombie, we have a “living,” breathing, talking zombie (named Liv, no less) who is the heroine of the show!

It’s an interesting trend, to be sure. After decades of watching countless imitations of Night of the Living Dead, something new had to come along at some point. My question to you is this: do you think the zombies of old have run their course? Sure, all of the movies I have mentioned have also had murderous zombies, but as time goes by, the level of “goodness” in the zombies has increased. The zombie sub-genre has always been one of my least favorite (don’t hate me!), so I actually appreciate this change of direction.

My reason for writing this is not to say that the classic zombie narrative has no originality left in it; but seeing as how more and more films are being released embodying this new trend, it doesn’t seem like Hollywood wants to backtrack. Do you even want to see anything “old school?” Or are you enjoying this new trend in the zombie sub-genre? Let me know in the comments below!

Maggie is currently in a limited theatrical release but also available to rent on iTunes and select VOD services.



COMMENTS

23 Comments
  • Kane

    • Mike Hawk

      Cool story bro.

      • Kane

        was wrong link lol

        • Mike Hawk

          lol 😀

  • Mike Hawk

    This movie might have been decent if they got a real actor and not Arnie. God, he just chews the scenery from what I manged to watch before I turned it off. Couldn’t even watch it.

  • Kane

    • Mike Hawk

      Pretty good review, man 😀

      • Kane

        short and simple… better than a magic the gathering vid -.-

        • Mike Hawk

          Lol Hell yeah and on point too.

  • G Hall

    I guess we’re at a situation where whether we consider the zombie of George Romero a “zombie” or we go back to the original Voodoo zombie classification.

    Personally, I suggest a new classification should be involved. I suspect the majority of people expect a flesh-eater attached to the definition of a zombie at this point.

    Just make a new creature. Spare us the arguments.

  • EightiesGeek

    The pass repeats itself. Zombies imo are going to hit the wall soon, it won’t be long before they’ll be “dead”. However what I’m hoping for is the rebirth of the slasher genre. It’s all a cycle, vampires then zombies, what’s next? come on slashers!

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    • wehoaks

      I’ve been waiting for a new slasher boom myself but studious just won’t greenlight them right now.

      • EightiesGeek

        The sad part is they could do Jason or Michael movies every other year with a budget under five million and make 20-30 million on each picture, do two week releases where you Can only see it in theater for only two weeks, then hold off on the home release till the next year. There are enough of us that would be willing to see it and wait for the release that it would be a continuous profit but only in Hollywood is 20 million not enough money, but yet they’ll waist 200 million on movies that are unproven and end up failing. If I could make 20 million a year for about three months work ever year trust me I would.

        • wehoaks

          The film industry is so busted.

    • Slashers are certainly in my top three go to subgenres. I remember when Scream 4 came out I thought there was finally going to be a resurgence. Didn’t happen. 🙁 maybe this new Leatherface will do the trick?

    • Kane

      there have been many attempts at bring back slashers and they have been terrible… laid to rest and hatchet (the first was good but nothing that should of been franchised) to name a couple. scream was the last great slasher and when they rebooted it, so to speak, with 4 people bitched… i honestly loved it…. not so sure about the series though. all it takes is 1 good idea to push forward and boom

  • Gravemarkings

    Stuff like warm bodies and I zombie to me are lame. Just like twilight was to the vampire and werewolf genre. Its all pre teen aimed. Zombies have definitely overstayed their welcome and that’s hard for me to say being a huge zombie fan. I’d still love to see a more violent world war Z film or the army of the dead film Zach Snyder never got around to making. All in all just like vampires, slashers or the current trend of ghost/entity based movies, if done right, I think will always be accepted

    • Daniel Anderson

      I really enjoyed world war Z. But if they would’ve put more emphasis on the “cleanup” at the end I would just love to see the aftermath of a Zombie/Viral apocalypse where they do a sweep of major cities and what not, much to the like of the original dawn of the dead at the very beginning.

  • Demilord

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  • J Jett

    i watched this last night and i fucking LOVED it! i give it 10 out of 10 stars. i don’t even really care for Arnie or Breslin but both of them were superb in this. i can’t recommend this movie enough. i freely admit i was crying my eyes out at a couple of places during the film. just a forewarning this movie is a DRAMA and not anything even close to TWD type of thing.

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