List: Most Wanted Zombie Directors

Posted by Cory Casciato On September - 30 - 2009
Mr. Director? The zombies are ready for their closeup

Mr. Director? The zombies are ready for their closeup

Romero. Fulci. Jackson. O’Bannon. Wright. These are all hallowed names among zombie directors, and fine directors in their own right. But despite loving the zombie above and beyond all other film genres, I do watch other kinds of movies. And while I watch them, sometimes I can’t help but notice, “Damn, this director is great.” And then, loving the zombie the way I do, I can’t help but think, “What if these guys made a zombie movie? “ I’m talking about people who have never made a zombie movie – not people who should make another (that’s another list…) Here’s my list of the top ten directors I’d like to see shoot the zombie – with a camera that is. When the apocalypse comes, we’ll all be shooting the bastards in the traditional, bullet-y way. (Photo above by flickr user lebovox; original photo here.)

10) Richard Kelly – The Donnie Darko writer-director has a seriously strange take on reality – see Southland Tales if you have any doubt of that – and an incredible way with mood and atmosphere. If he tackled the living dead, it wouldn’t be a standard zombie apocalypse tale. What would it be? Weird, fractured and largely incomprehensible, yet still pretty much awesome, just like every other movie he’s done so far. I’m thinking it’d be the sort of thing that would thoroughly explore that “undecidable” quality of life and death discussed in relation to Derrida. Plus, maybe he’d get Southland Tales alumni the Rock and Justin Timberlake to play in it, which would be pretty sweet.

9) David Cronenberg – Body horror is an inherent theme of every zombie film. What else is a zombie but a person whose flesh has betrayed their intellect and persona? Despite this, it’s a theme has never really been explored to anything like its full potential. The movies that focus on it, such as I, Zombie and, to a lesser degree, Zombie Honeymoon, are pretty weak. Cronenberg is the undisputed master of body horror – see Videodrome, The Fly and pretty much everything else he’s done.  What could the master do with the story of a man bitten and slowly succumbing to the zombification of his body? Something special, I’d bet.

8 ) Mamoru Oshii – I’m no connoisseur of anime, but I do know the world desperately needs an epic, top-notch animated zombie apocalypse film. And based on the incredible Ghost in the Shell, Oshii is the man to do it. Ghost is enormous in scope, rife with philosophical quandaries and action packed, to boot. Which is exactly what this hypothetical anime zombie apocalypse needs to be – and surely would be, under his guidance.

7) Renny Harlin – Harlin is considered a hack by most people. Apart from Cliffhanger, his films have been largely reviled. His parade of “failures” includes The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea and Cutthroat Island. Yet all of those are actually pretty goddamn great (okay, Cutthroat sucked, but it has some moments and Pirates of the Caribbean totally ripped it off). Harlin does not do subtlety – he turns everything up to eleven, then turns the elevens themselves up to eleven. But man, in the realm of the action movie, how is this a bad thing? I love his high-octane cheese and while I am certain his zombie movie would be shallow and brain dead, I am equally sure it would be a fuck load of fun.

6) JJ Abrams – Right now I am kind of in love with everything Abrams has a hand in, largely due to Lost taking over my brain and the Star Trek movie surprising the hell out of me by being not just good but great. So combine my love of Abrams with my love of zombies and voila, this one is a no brainer. Personally, my choice would be for him to adapt David Wellington’s Monster Island, but I’m sure I’d be equally taken with whatever story he decided to tell.

5) Christopher Nolan – I loved Memento way more than the Batman reboots, but in any case, the man has some chops. In all those films, Nolan has shown an ability to take a familiar formula (revenge tale in Memento and superhero flick in the Batman movies) and reinvigorate it with a fresh angle and a brooding noir atmosphere. And the familiar zombie apocalypse formula is begging for a fresh take and a brooding, noir atmosphere.

4) Rob Zombie – I’m not necessarily the world’s biggest fan of the man, but the The Devil’s Rejects is a damn fine horror film. And the man loves zombies so much he named his band after the first zombie movie, named an album (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) after another and took it as a last name. So frankly, I am just curious to see how that love translates into a zombie movie. So how about it, Rob? When do we see how Zombie does zombies?

3) Guillermo del Toro – I am tempted to just say Pan’s Labyrinth by way of explanation and leave it at that. That film is a masterpiece. The bottom line is the man is one of the finest directors ever to work in genre film, even if his output is a little uneven. But when he is on, his movies are transcendent. And since that is the case, I would dearly, dearly love to see him tackle my favorite subject.

2) John McTiernan – You’re telling me the man who made Die Hard and Predator couldn’t do a seriously badass zombie movie? I’m not sure exactly what kind of zombie movie he’d make (maybe zombies could siege a tower and only a cop there to visit his wife … wait, that’s been done, hasn’t it?), but I’d jump and down like a little kid if it ever turned out he was going to tackle one. Yippee-ki-aye, you dead motherfuckers.

1) Ridley Scott – Just look at the claustrophobic horror sci-fi of Alien, the sci-fi noir of Blade Runner and the dark fantasy of Legend. Okay, I guess I want Ridley Scott circa 1985 to direct my zombie film, but still – how cool could this be? Who knows, maybe he still has that kind of magic and maybe, just maybe, the walking dead could drag it out of him.

Bonus Entry: Orson Welles – Welles famously did a radio play of War of the Worlds that had half of New Jersey believing aliens were invading. I have to believe he could muster some of that for the subject of the undead. Sure, we’d have to bring him back from the dead to do it, but how frigging cool is that? Zombie Orson Welles is the perfect person to make the Citizen Kane of zombie movies.

Richard Kelly – The Donnie Darko writer-director has a seriously strange take on reality – see Southland Tales if you have any doubt of that – and an incredible way with mood and atmosphere. If he tackled the living dead, it wouldn’t be a standard zombie apocalypse tale. What would it be? Weird, fractured and largely incomprehensible, yet still pretty much awesome, just like every other movie he’s done so far. I’m thinking it;d be the sort of thing that would thoroughly explore that “undecidable” quality of life and death discussed in relation to Derrida. Plus, maybe’s he’d get Southland Tales alumni the Rock and Justin Timberlake to play in it, which would be pretty sweet.

David Cronenberg – Body horror is an inherent theme of every zombie film. What else is a zombie but a person whose flesh has betrayed their intellect and persona? Despite this, it’s a theme has never really been explored to anything like its full potential. The movies that focus on it, such as I, Zombie and, to a lesser degree, Zombie Honeymoon, are pretty weak. Cronenberg is the undisputed master of body horror – what could the master do with the story of a man bitten and slowly succumbing to the zombification of his body? Something special, I’d bet.

Mamoru Oshii – I’m no connoisseur of anime, but I do know the world desperately needs an epic, top-notch animated zombie apocalypse film. And based on the incredible Ghost in the Shell, Oshii is the man to do it. Ghost is enormous in scope, rife with philosophical quandaries and action packed, to boot. Which is exactly what this hypothetical anime zombie apocalypse needs to be – and surely would be, under his guidance.

Renny Harlin – Harlin is considered a hack by most people. Apart from Cliffhanger, his films have been largely reviled. His parade of “failures” includes The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea and Cutthroat Island. Yet all of those are actually pretty goddamn great (okay, Cutthroat sucked, but it has some moments and Pirates of the Caribbean totally ripped it off). Harlin does not do subtlety – he turns everything up to eleven, then turns the elevens themselves up to eleven. But man, in the realm of the action movie, how is this a bad thing? I love his high-octane cheese and while I am certain his zombie movie would be shallow and brain dead, I am equally sure it would be a fuck load of fun.

JJ Abrams – Right now I am kind of in love with everything Abrams does, largely due to Lost taking over my brain and the Star Trek movie surprising the hell out of me by being not just good but great. So combine my love of Abrams with my love of zombies and voila, this one is a no brainer. Personally, my choice would be for him to adapt David Wellington’s Monster Island, but I’m sure I’d be equally taken with whatever story he decided to tell.

Christopher Nolan – I loved Memento way more than the Batman reboots, but in any case, the man has some chops. In all those films, Nolan has shown an ability to take a familiar formula (revenge tale in Memento and superhero flick in the Batman movies) and reinvigorate it with a fresh angle and a brooding noir atmosphere. And the familiar zombie apocalypse formula is begging for a fresh take and a brooding, noir atmosphere.

Rob Zombie – I’m not necessarily the world’s biggest fan of the man, but the The Devil’s Rejects is a damn fine horror film. And the man loves zombies so much he named his band after the first zombie movie, named an album (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) after another and took it as a last name. So frankly, I am just curious to see how that love translates into a zombie movie. So how about it, Rob? When do we see how Zombie does zombies?

Guillermo del Toro – I am tempted to just say Pan’s Labyrinth by way of explanation and leave it at that. That film is a masterpiece. The bottom line is the man is one of the finest directors ever to work in genre film, even if his output is a little uneven. And since that is the case, I would dearly, dearly love to see him tackle my favorite subject.

John McTiernan – You’re telling me the man who made Die Hard and Predator couldn’t do a seriously badass zombie movie? I’m not sure exactly what kind of zombie movie he’d make (maybe zombies could siege a tower and only a cop there to visit his wife … wait, that’s been one, hasn’t it?), but I’d jump and down like a little kid if it ever turned out he was going to tackle one. Yippee-ki-aye, you dead motherfuckers.

Ridley Scott – Just look at the claustrophobic horror sci-fi of Alien, the sci-fi noir of Blade Runner and the dark fantasy of Legend. Okay, I guess I want Ridley Scott circa 1985 to direct my zombie film, but still – how cool could this be? Who knows, maybe he still has that kind of magic and maybe, just maybe, the walking dead could drag it out of him.

Orson Welles – Welles famously did a radio play of War of the Worlds that had half of New Jersey believing aliens were invading. I have to believe he could muster some of that for the subject of the undead. Sure, we’d have to bring him back from the dead to do it, but how frigging cool is that? Zombie Orson Welles is the perfect person to make the Citizen Kane of zombie movies.

10 Responses to “List: Most Wanted Zombie Directors”

  1. rmlumley says:

    I agree with you on Cronenberg & Del Toro. I’d also add Paul Verhoeven & Michael Mann for zombie films with high production values. For tension, how about Alexandre Aja but I’d have to have something else write it. Finally, for low budget humorous affair, I’ll go with the Duplass Brothers.

    My bonus (dead) director is Sergio Leone.

  2. [...] The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse has come up with a list of 10 Directors who NEED to make a Zombie flick. [...]

  3. Verhoeven was so close to making it — if I ever do a part 2, he’ll head up the list. Mann, I can see but I am not as hot on him as some people are. Sure he’d do a fine job, though. Not familiar with those others.

    And that Leone bonus pick is pure genius. Maybe I should do a list of all dead directors who should come back for a zombie flick…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. rmlumley says:

    I’m a big Michael Mann fan, so I find myself happy with him doing any genre. Watch High Tension (ignore the 3rd act) and Baghead.

    I’d also enjoy a PT Anderson zombie film, but I’ll enjoy a PT Anderson anything.

  5. Justin says:

    DAvid Cronenberg already did Rabid. Close as you can get to a zombie film without it being a zombie film. A small army of mindless maniacs that bite to spread the rabies. Good movie

  6. [...] project called 500 Rads, and it may be a zombie movie. Considering Abrams was near the top of my list of my most-wanted zombie filmmakers, this makes me happy. Even if it isn’t true. [...]

  7. Braden says:

    Robert Rodriguez, all the way. Dusk Til Dawn, Sin City…man is a genius.

  8. @Braden – Yes, but by the criteria I set up, he is ineligible (he already made a zombie movie, and a damn fine one, in Planet Terror).

  9. [...] However, here is a link to Cory’s original post about his most wanted directors for a zombie p…. [...]

  10. Specter says:

    I want Michael Bay to make one and title it “Exploding Zombies”
    Just think of zombies Ramero style but can explode, it would be an awesome round up of zombie survival, a good twist on the stylization of zombies and quite the mess to clean up. It would be funny to see the guys in dawn of the dead pulling their zombie dodging stuff until they are splattered on the wall from the zombie they just pushed over

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