Cataloging the Dead: Romero Zombies

Posted by Cory Casciato On April - 13 - 2009

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Appear in: Night of the Living Dead; Dawn of the Dead; Day of the Dead; Land of the Dead; Diary of the Dead also, the Tom Savini directed Night of the Living Dead remake (1990) but not any other remakes as of current date.

Cause: Unknown (radiation from Venusian space probe is one hypothesized cause, but never tested).

Diet: Human flesh (eats only a small portion of the body, estimated at around five percent in Dawn of the Dead). Occasionally observed eating other animals (bugs, etc.).

Circumstances for creation: All dead bodies rise to become zombies. Zombie bites are invariably fatal, usually within 24 hours of being bitten. No known way to prevent reanimation short of destroying the brain.

Behavior: Slow moving. Easily distracted, such as by fireworks. Capable of learning and recalling at least some impulses from its life. The longer it has been zombified, the smarter it is. Newly risen are nearly mindless, but even they have been observed using simple tools to bludgeon or break windows to reach prey. Older zombies can communicate, organize and plan, including making efforts to resist distractions to focus on a task.

How to kill: Destroy the brain, destroy the zombie. Nothing else works.

Slow but implacable, the Romero zombie just keeps coming, ever hungry for the flesh of the living. In Romero’s universe, all recently dead people rise to become zombies – being bitten is not required. Being bitten, however, is invariably fatal, usually within a day or so. The early Romero movies showed zombies are largely mindless, but they seemed to get smarter with each installment, evolving over time (perhaps as they acclimated to a post-life existence?). Eventually they achieve cooperation, planning and impulse control, making them considerably more dangerous.

Romero’s zombies appear to get sustenance from eating the living. They can exist for a long period, perhaps indefinitely, without feeding, so there may be something else at work besides simple desire/need for sustenance. They can not be killed except by destroying the brain. Massive damage to the body may incapacitate the zombie, but as long as it can still bite it is dangerous. Since all bodies rise to become zombies, the bodies of the dead must be disposed of as soon as possible after death, regardless of the cause of death.

The zombies of George A. Romero’s work are in many ways the prototype for all modern (post-1968) zombies. As such, they appear frequently in others’ works, sometimes with minor variations. A good rule of thumb for any new and unidentified zombie encountered is to treat it as a Romero zombie until evidence suggests otherwise. These zombies first appeared in the seminal Night of the Living Dead and then in its four follow-ups. The first three of these, through Land of the Dead, appear to take place on a single timeline. The last, Diary of the Dead, appears to be a reboot/reimagining and further installments may alter these observations or make a case for categorizing a second variety of Romero zombie.

Trailer mania: Zombies of Mass Destruction + 3 more

Posted by Cory Casciato On March - 30 - 2009

I was concerned that the recent bonanza of zombie movies was slowing to a trickle, but here are a handful of trailers arguing against that hypothesis. Admittedly, these look to be low budget, foreign and indie affairs, rather than the big-budget epics of the past few years (although World War Z is still on the horizon…). The best looking of the bunch is Zombies of Mass Destruction, but I refuse to get too excited about it. It’s as rare as hen’s teeth for a movie to be as good as the trailer and even though the trailer looks pretty good, you can see some rough acting and questionable humor in it. It’s another zombie comedy, this one poking a little fun at America’s terrorism hysteria. Okay, okay, they’re about six years too late for this to be really relevant, but there’s plenty of people who are still sure there’s a bioweapon under every bed just waiting to spread some kind of virus, zombie-making or otherwise. I just wish the movie’s web site had some real information, like a release date, whether it’s coming to theaters or straight to DVD or what. Oh well, I’m sure that will come presently. Until then, enjoy the trailer. Then, hit the jump for three more trailers.

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Ungood: FleshEater

Posted by Cory Casciato On March - 12 - 2009

flesheaterWhen zombies make zombie movies, bad things happen. The sole claim to fame offered by FleshEater is that it is the pet project of Bill Hinzman, who was the graveyard ghoul in the original Night of the Living Dead. He wrote, directed and starred in this turkey, which mashes up NotLD with any generic Friday the 13th inspired slasher film and ends up as a mess. A dumbass farmer unearths a zombie, who breeds more zombies in the usual, bitey way. This troupe of flesh-loving undead systematically kill a bunch of completely unappealing teens during a camp out. In a departure from completely generic zombiedom (but well in line with generic slasherdom), the zombies all use weapons — pitchforks, a hatchet, etc. — which gives a little bit of variety to the killings. Things are set to get all apocalyptic up in this bitch when the local townsfolk pull out the guns and wipe them all out — or do they? Then the end rips off NotLD‘s ending — what a surprise. Apart from being slow, dull and dumb, it wasn’t bad. Just kidding, it was bad.

As an aside, I am pretty certain this was filmed in rural Pennsylvania. Something about the scenery, the mullets and the ready availability of firearms and Iron City beer just reminds me of my time there.

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