I’ve been thinking back over the last few years and how the master of the living dead, George A Romero returned, at first to the cheers and wonder of all nerds and horror geeks worldwide, and then proceeded to put out a new series of zombie movies which divide and frustrate the many fans he has amassed over the decades since the initial genre mighty classic Night of the living dead.
I have still yet the watch Diary of the Living Dead (2008), though it sits in my room waiting to be seen. A few weeks ago I viewed the much criticized Survival of the Dead (2009) and I think I found it to be yes, fairly weaker than the previous two new zombie sequels of his, but I felt that it in some ways was gradually returning to a more simpler, basic approach, focusing on the smaller groups and quieter with still some lingering scenes of suspense and chills. It has it’s problems definitely, and is certainly not great, but I see an honest attempt from Romero to move on perhaps, and tell some different tale, but maybe he should have tried it without the zombies.
It would seem that the real big turning points over a decade ago now, were the movies 28 Days Later and then Shaun of the Dead, both from here in the UK, and the first Resident Evil movie. After those, the grounds were laid, audiences were freshly excited by the new post-modern revival of the well known stumbling and unstoppable monsters called Zombies.
Romero eventually returned, with the eagerly awaited Land of the Dead (2005), with much anticipation and nervousness from all interested, hoping to see a new masterpiece from the original master of zombie splatter movies. Land of the Dead, was a complicated beast, thematically difficult, brave, and darkly fearsome. At the time it had some relevant views on the Bush administration and class tensions to offer, and this maybe gave it too much from the returning film of Romero coupled with zombies after so long. Generally though, most people were very happy with this next installment in his zombie series.
While the gore master of social horror metaphors came back and gave us more, around him as the zombie trend and interest build and gathered pace, numerous other cheaper movies were released featuring zombies with usually terrible quality levels. The Resident Evil series of movies continued, though most over the age of fifteen would agree that those movies had brilliant visuals but absolutely lacked a decent script between them, after the first.
We have had dozens of bloody zombie movies, usually with the word Dead in the title, or Living, trying to desperately seem related to the films of Romero. It seems sad and a waste to see so many sloppy, bloody flicks offering zombie horrors to then just be another terrible no-budget, no-script pile of waste. If only Romero had gained the chance to finally direct and write his Resident Evil movie…
Here are some recent bizarrely named offering in the world of living dead: Bong of the Dead, Juan of the Dead, Caustic Zombies, Condition Dead, Colin-with something like two hundred pound budget, The Crazies Remake-scripted by Romero, The Living Corpse, Dawn of the Living Dead-so what they did there, Day of the Dead 2:Contagion, Day of the Dead 3:Epidemic, Dead Girl, Dead by Dawn, The Dead Undead, Dorm of the Dead, Enter the Zombie, Electric Zombies, Gay of the Dead, House of the Dead- from the reliably terrible director Uwe Boll.
We did eventually get the mega-budget latest version of the classic novel I am Legend starring Will Smith. Looking fantastic, while taming down the contaminated hoards-not actual zombies it was arguably the peak.
All usually greatly inspired by the first trilogy of classic Romero zombie films, and just about all of these cheap horror movies barely worth sitting through until the half way mark, just when will the this trend come to a fitting demise? In some way, yes the never ending zombie onslaught does seem to be gradually thinning out as other less explored sub-genres of horror are taken up and filmed.
But with George A Romero, will we get a last stunning masterpiece of zombie goodness to top all others once again? The dead don’t stay dead for long…