IntroductionWithin this Powerpoint, I will be discussing the genre research basedon the zombie horror movie.My research will cover the basics of the genre, and more detailedaspects of when the genre really found it’s beginnings and what thatmeans for today’s zombie horrors.There will be a sort of timeline in place to show the way that thegenre has developed, followed by a conclusion to show what I havediscovered through my research.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)• Though not specifically classed as a “zombie” movie, the sleepwalking character portrays many characteristics of what has become to be known the “living dead” or zombies. It adheres to the now culturally known meme of the living dead, meaning viewers can already see the symbolism.• The character is described as having a “death-like sleep” which hints at the way he has these developing characteristics.
White Zombie (1932)• Introduced zombies into cinema, and with a “magical” aspect to them, involving them being summoned by a necromancer, in this case a High Priest. This shows a new way of zombie causes, showing us the mystical side with a great effect on the ideas of religion being merged with horror.• It introduced it’s character straight away as a zombie through the tagline – “She was not alive, nor dead, just a white zombie”.
I Walked With A Zombie (1943)• Continues the trait of voodoo ideas and summonings of zombies, while basing the plot on a classic novel – Jane Eyre. This shows that while still keeping the horror aspects and scary traits of a horror film, the story issue is addressed and well planned out. This creates a more interesting atmosphere for the audience, while they learn new concepts of “zombies”.
The Last Man On Earth (1964)• This film introduced the idea of less vampiric and more zombified traits in characters. It was an Italian movie that has been remade twice, once as The Omega Man (1973) and also as I Am Legend (2008). This was the introduction of the Italian explosion!
The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)• This film was known for being a huge influence on one very famous horror director, George A. Romero, and showed large amounts of violence. It showed zombies as predators and much more primal, despite a voodoo style zombie.
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)• A George A. Romero classic, this film sets out the ideas we now culturally recognise as “zombies”. It introduces ideas such as the shambling, moaning zombie that eats flesh, the term “The Dead” and the concept of a scientific cause of the infection.• Also introduced is the idea of survivors being holed up in a safehouse and becoming more of a threat to each other than the “living dead” are.
The Italian Zombie Horror Explosion• There was an explosion during the ‘70s of Italian-shot zombie horror movies that created a massive incline in popularity. Some famed examples of these are the remake of Dawn Of The Dead as “Zombi” and it’s sequels. These were far more violent than most British or American made movies, with more gore and aggressive behaviour portrayed in them.• In the ‘90s, though, the Italian horror movies died down considerably, leaving room for “Hollywood” movies once more.
Dawn Of The Dead (1978)• Before this movie, the ‘70s had had some trouble with zombie horror, giving it a poor reputation for the decade. However, with George A. Romero’s second cult classic, the genre received new life. It created the zombie image of slow, stupid zombies with bluish green skin and bloodied clothes.• This was briefly followed by Zombi 2, in 1979. It was also remade in 2004.
The Roaring ‘80s• Zombies in the ‘80s really took off, and many movies such as The Return Of The Living Dead and Day Of The Dead (1985) were created. These all kept the typical image of zombie stereotypes:• A lack of intelligence• A need for flesh• The only way to kill them is a severe head injury.This was where horror movies of the zombie variety really developed, keeping these traits as a recognisable feature for the genre itself.
The 1990s ‘Mistakes’• Most of the ‘90s films made for zombie horror were seen by many enthusiasts as a bit of a mistake to the genre. There were some greats, but many were regarded as poorly made films that didn’t really deserve the genre of zombie horror.• It was when gore became more important than plot to a director, and most 1990s films were renowned for being too gory for enjoyment. Great for the ultimate blood fan, not such fun for a plotline-fan.
Braindead (1992)• Seen as one of the goriest movies in existence, Peter Jackson’s ‘90s zombie horror was viewed almost as a mistake in the zombie genre. It combined humorous, almost slapstick ideas of comedy with 700 litres of fake blood to create one of the most violent zombie films. Ever. It, however, was one of the better movies of the ‘90s...
Zombie Doom (1999)• ...Unlike this forgotten movie here. With shocking user reviews from those who watched it, Zombie Doom, with it’s oh-so-inventive title, was seen as a total washout for the zombie genre. It had little by way of storyline and threw gore in the face of the viewer, meaning that everyone who watched it perhaps felt uncomfortable. Needless to say, it didn’t last long.
Comedy Zombie Horror – Zom-Coms!• Recently, a new take has been exploiting the zombie horror genre with comedy zombie horror films, more commonly known as Zom- Coms. These take the zombie genre and parody it to inject humour to it. There are loads of examples of this, such as Shaun Of The Dead (2004, one of the most well known zom-coms) and Zombieland (2009). Examples of the typically parodied aspects are;• The slow movement and stupidity – groaning and useless• The eating flesh and dramatic convention related with it• The idea of a hero that is goofy yet somehow comes through at the end.
Shaun Of The Dead (2004)• After the blossoming remake of Dawn Of The Dead, Edgar Wright introduced a new type of zombie horror – the comedy aspect. It hadn’t been done very successfully before, but this time it was done to almost parody a typical zombie film. It combines the ideas of survivors becoming greater threats to each other, stupid and slow-moving zombies and throws in a shambling hero for the mix.• Overall, the film introduced a brand new way to make horror interesting to a wider audience.• It copies the Romero style zombies to try to pay homage to the original God of zombie horror.
Resident Evil Franchise (2002, 2004, 2007, 2010)• The Resident Evil franchise was a video game series that was adapted into a successful movie franchise. It works on the idea of a virus or infection, spreading the ‘zombie’ genes around the population. It also encourages the idea of a mixture of zombie types – both fast and slow.• This shows how zombies are progressing onward just as the genre is through the years, giving the genre a ‘life’ of it’s own.
The Cultural Meme• Through all these films developing an idea of zombies, a cultural meme of “the living dead” has been created. When asked, anyone under about 21 would answer several main points;• “They eat flesh!”• “They’re reanimated corpses”• “Decaying skin”• “Stupid”• These ideas can now be applied in any form of media, whether it be TV (Walking Dead, Dead Set etc) or video games (Dead Island, Left 4 Dead etc), and even in comic books (The Walking Dead).
In Conclusion• The ‘Zombie Horror’ genre has become a cultural meme known to a wide audience, and can create fear, tension or even comedy. Over the years of zombie horror, the ideas developed right back with Dr. Caligari have grown and become fully fledged movie plots. Of course, no genre erupts from nowhere, and this presentation has done some research into what kick-started everything off.Thank you!