Throughout horror movie history there have been certainly many great and memorable zombie films which I love, but this is not about the films themselves. This is about the singular zombie experience. Now zombies typically move as a relatively faceless horde of death. That is unless you have the misfortune of coming face to face with one, then it becomes very up close and personal. So it's particularly satisfying and intriguing when a filmmaker really transforms a zombie into something a little more than just an ever present threat waiting to kill and eat some flesh, but of course a zombie always is and will be as such. Whether that method is achieved by giving them a comical personality or something a bit deeper. Or maybe a combination of both. Here I present my top 5 favorite and memorable zombies throughout horror movie history.
05. Baby Zombie-Brain Dead aka Dead Alive (1992)
A face only a mother could love?
Here we have Selwyn (They named it?). The mutated / undead love child of the zombie kung fu priest (Father McGruder) and zombie nurse McTavish. Considered by some to be the goriest movie ever made, director Peter Jackson brings us something most hadn't seen before. A baby zombie. This miniature version of walking death helps bring plenty of laughs and gore to this already awesome movie. The little mischievous and ravenous zombie is watched over by our hero of the film Lionel. In one hilarious scene Lionel brings the baby to the park and tries to interact with it like a somewhat 'normal' father. Selwyn proceeds to only cause trouble for Lionel and pretty much goes ballistic in full view of terrified pedestrians. In the end battle scenes the baby has some really nice kills and actually one of the best of the whole movie. Baby zombie Selwyn will forever live in my mind as one of the most fucked up, weird little creations in zombie history.
Peek a boo!
04. Joey and Ed-Return of the Living Dead II (1988)
Joey and Ed messing around in the mausoleum.
These two zombified comedic bumblers basically reprise their roles here from the first installment.
Joey (Thom Mathews) and Ed (James Karen) are a couple of grave robbers looking for a quick buck. After they are exposed to the deadly zombie gas that was inadvertently released, things start to go downhill for them, and pretty much everyone else really fast. Joey and Ed are basically the comedy relief in their roles, as they were in the original. The Abbott and Costello of this film if you will, spend most of their time on screen bickering at each other while they slowly die and turn into zombies. Joey and Ed's descent into zombiedom has some pretty funny moments, although they pretty much whine and cry throughout the whole ordeal. Still, I got some kicks out the banter between them and the other characters from both of the movies.. When they finally turn, that's when the best lines are given. "Let me eat your braaaain!", exclaims a hungry Joey. "It smells so spicy", he says to his girlfriend Brenda. Yummy.
Not the best idea to stick your fingers in there.
03. Fido-Fido (2006)
Fido looks satisfied after a kill
Billy Connolly brilliantly plays Fido in this 2006 horror comedy. This films delves a bit deeper into the zombie psyche and plight to be treated fairly and equally, but doesn't at all lose it's comedic flair. The film is set in a 1950's era post zombie war where zombies are now collared, controlled, and used for manual labor. Fido is bought as a household servant by Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss). Her lonely son Timmy soon befriends the sad Fido due to lack of attention from his father. They quickly get into trouble due to Fido eating a few people on Timnmy's behalf. The film is excellently done and is carried for the most part by Connolly's portrayal of the morose and misunderstood zombie Fido. He captured so much emotion and feeling with subtle gestures, movements, and with his eyes. You felt there was something much deeper underneath the surface of Fido other than the lust for human flesh, which of course does rear it's head from time to time. There is even a little love story between Moss's character and Fido. All this without talking. It all works so well and I can't say enough about his performance here. I would highly recommend.
How did that blood get on your mouth Fido?
02. Dr. Hill-Re-Animator (1985)
My head will give you head!
Now some would argue if this pick would be considered a zombie at all. I would say that Dr. Hill is a zombie in the sense of being undead and causing carnage. No flesh eating though so it' subjective. David Gale's acting is wonderful in this flick, as well as occasionally hamming it up as Dr. Hill in the brilliant film Re-Animator. Herbert West (Jeffrey Coombs) is a medical student where Dr. Hill teaches medicine. Hill eventually finds out about West's reagent serum and blackmail's him to give it to turn it over. This doesn't go over well because West decides to kill Hill by cutting off his head with a shovel. What, no guns in this movie? I kid, I kid. Now West decides it's a good idea to bring Hill's head and body back to life separately. Good idea for him, no. For the movie goer, yes. The undead Dr. Hill provides great dialogue as the headless corpse and a bit a comedy to this role with the headless body bumbling around frequently. He also takes depravity to a whole other level by trying to give head with his severed head. Does it get much better? No sir, it does not. The effects of his severed head are fantastic and blood and gore is to be found in abundance. Go watch this movie now and see for yourself David Gale's take on the undead. You won't be disappointed.
There's a first time for everything.
01. Bub-Day of the Dead (1985)
Bub salutes after taking care of business
My top spot goes to the undead star in George Romero's third movie in his zombie trilogy, Day of the Dead. Bub (Howard Sherman) shows us that maybe zombies aren't just killing machines and there may be much more to them than meets the eye. In this film there are a group of scientists and army personal holed up in an underground bunker relatively safe from the zombie hoard. The lead scientist Dr. Matthew Logan played wonderfully by Richard Liberty, has been experimenting with domestication and learning abilities of zombies and Bub is his prize pupil. The Dr. has become to realize that with the proper training, zombies can possibly be domesticated. In once scene the Doctor even teaches Bub how to say a couple of words. Howard Sherman as Bub plays this zombie role with such feeling and emotion. His movements and facial expressions are beautiful. You really start to feel his plight and relate to him. He almost seems to remember his old life as an army guy in some way. In a funny little scene he even salutes the head bad guy Captain Rhodes( Joe Pilato) in remembrance of rank and duty. There is even a touching bond between Bub and Dr. Logan. There's almost a mother / son type of relationship and Bub is not aggressive towards him or really anyone else. However, he does have a bit of a problem with Captain Rhodes. He didn't start it, but he sure finishes it. In a sad scene near the end, Bub tries to hand his leash to Dr. Logan and screams when he realizes that he's dead. Sherman just portrays the zombie so well on a huge range of emotions and movements. You fear Bub, but you also feel for him. The makeup for Bub is also quite extraordinary. Huge props to the whole makeup department on that one. Probably some of the best makeup for a zombie movie up until that point. It only serves to enhance the already brilliant performance. This movie is a must see for any zombie fanatic.
Enjoying some Beethoven. Nice