Showing posts with label Brandon Hale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brandon Hale. Show all posts

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shaun of the Dead is a Horror Movie

A friend asked me recently what my top three favorite zombies movies are, and I listed Shawn of the Dead among them. The friend immediately said, “No, it has to be horror movies, not a spoof.”

Well, that annoyed me a bit, because Shawn of the Dead is a horror movie. Sure, it has plenty of comedy, sure, but this movie is – at its core – a horror film.

A very good horror film.

Yeah, the stars and director are known for comedy. Yeah, it has a satirical title that plays off Dawn of the Dead.

I don’t care. There are plenty of horror movies that make us laugh. Shawn of the Dead has the heart of a horror movie. An American Werewolf in London makes me laugh just as much as Shawn, and it’s rightfully considered one of the best horror films out there.

So what is it about Shawn that makes the movie a horror movie? Several things, actually.

1. It was written for fans of horror. This movie can only be appreciated if you’re a fan of horror. The references – even the jokes – are for horror fans. For example, if someone hasn’t seen Night of the Living Dead, there’s no way they’ll appreciate the “We’re coming to get you Barbara” line.

2. It has excessive gore. Now, I understand that’s not a requirement for horror, but it’s certainly a common element. In Shawn, people are eaten. Badly. The have their insides ripped out and devoured by hordes of undead. And when it happens in the movie, it’s done in a horrifying way, not a comical way.

3. It has human drama. The human drama in a movie is the reason horror works. If you don’t care about the characters, you don’t care about what happens to them. There are several emotional moments in this movie, but the one that hits me hardest is the scene with Shawn’s mother. I won’t spoil it in case you’ve not seen this movie, but that scene has the emotional resonance that comes with any good horror movie.

4. It’s scary. Now, this movie doesn’t have many traditional scares, but it most definitely captures the hopeless feeling common to all zombie stories. There are multiple moments where this movie is just as tense as any zombie film.

There are other reasons, but those are the four big ones. The reason I wrote this article was because my friend’s comment about Shawn being a spoof made me start to wonder how many fans of horror have passed this movie by just because they thought it was some kind of zany comedy.

Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s a great zombie movie (definitely in my top three). If you’ve skipped Shawn of the Dead because you didn’t think it was a horror film, I highly recommend you give it a shot. It’s got plenty of comedy, but the laughs are for fans of horror. And the rest of the movie is a more traditional zombie film than most of the modern zombie movies out there.

So check it out. You won’t regret it.


Find out what are the top 30 Horror Comedies Ever...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Living Zombies or Dead Zombies: What do you prefer?

The most common debate about zombies these days is the “fast zombie vs. slow zombie” debate. I’ve seen this debate last for days in various online forums and groups. People will debate this topic endlessly, but a zombie-related topic I rarely see discussed is whether or not zombies are scarier as supernatural “living dead” creatures or as regular people gone insane.

The Romero-style zombies are obviously the best example of the supernatural undead. In all of his “Living Dead” movies, the zombies are literally the walking dead. They are recently deceased people who have risen from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living. There’s definitely a creepy element to these things. Seeing a person with rotting flesh stammer (or run) toward you would without a doubt be a terrifying experience. It would also be an extremely emotional experience if that zombie is someone you knew and loved in life.

A recent trend, however, has been to do the zombie movie with “living zombies.” 28 Days Later really brought this version to the mainstream audience. These zombies aren’t the walking dead. They are simply people who have been infected with some sort of virus that makes them act like zombies. Some other movies that use this are The Crazies and 28 Weeks Later.

Zombieland is a little vague on this issue. In Zombieland, it’s never quite clear whether these are people driven insane by a virus or literally people who have risen from the dead. I personally lean toward the “they’re alive” angle for this movie.

The scariest thing about the “living zombie” is that it feels far more realistic. There are no supernatural elements that you can shrug off as magic. These are just people who have been infected with a virus and are now trying to kill you. That can be damn scary.

And when you factor in family and friends, it takes it to another level altogether. Your spouse is infected. Should you kill her? What if there’s a cure tomorrow? Without the supernatural element, putting a bullet in your best friend’s head would be far more difficult.

For me, I’m undecided. I don’t know which is scarier. If it were to happen in the real world, I think the risen dead would be far more frightening, just because it would change everything about the way we see the universe. But as a movie, I the “living zombie” might be a little scarier, because it takes place in the real world. It is something that could happen.

So what about you? When you go watch a zombie movie, are you freaked out more by a living person with a “zombie virus” or by the actual walking dead?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Zombies Will Never Die

Written By:
Brandon Hale

Are you tired of the zombie craze yet? Are you looking forward to seeing this fad pass on by? If so, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you… It’s not going to die.

Sure, we may think the craze is dead from time to time, but it always comes back from the grave, just like the zombies the movies are about.

Since George Romero brought the modern ghoul to a mainstream audience back in the late 60’s, people have never completely escaped them. They go away for a while, but they always come back. They come back because people always welcome them back.

Modern audiences will always be fascinated by the living dead because that genre has managed something unique. It has successfully blended the supernatural with the feeling that “it could happen.” For most movies, that is an either/or scenario. You can have the supernatural or you can do something that feels like it could happen in the real world.
Zombies have managed to do both.

People are drawn to zombie movies because the idea of a virus we can’t control feels possible, and that makes it scary. The fact that they’re “living dead” has become secondary to the idea that a plague could wipe out human civilization. People seem less interested in the zombie and more interested in the apocalypse. That’s why movies like 28 Day Later and The Crazies were so popular. These “zombies” were very much alive… just homicidal.

And, of course, once something feels possible, we can easily put ourselves in that situation. It takes some effort to imagine what you’d do if a werewolf started stalking your hometown. But it’s not hard at all to imagine what you’d do if the entire world just went to hell. Many people have developed their own zombie survival plan. There are books about it. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) even did an article about it. I’ve never seen the CDC do anything about protecting yourself from a vampire, but they jumped right on the zombie apocalypse craze.

They did this because zombie survival is very similar to surviving any major catastrophe, so preparing for a zombie apocalypse actually prepares you for most emergencies. That is precisely what makes a zombie movie exciting to the movie going public. With a zombie movie, you’re not just watching other people survive a horrible ordeal. You’re surviving it with them. When a character has to shoot his zombified mother, you’re asking yourself if you could do it.

Yeah, the popularity of zombie movies is finally going down, but it won’t be down for long. The Walking Dead is coming back for another season. Another network is actually developing a Zombieland series. “Zombie walks” are growing in popularity across the country (I’ve been in two myself). Zombies are now horror icons. They’re right there with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, Frankenstein, and masked mass murderers.

So I hope you enjoy a good zombie story because they’re a permanent fixture on the horror landscape now. I suspect zombie apocalypse movies will be around until…


Until the apocalypse happens.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How Anne Rice Accidentally De-fanged the Vampire

Written By: Brandon Hale

Let me start by saying I loved Interview with the Vampire (both the book and the movie). I think Anne Rice told a great story and gave us an interesting twist to the vampire mythology. Lestat is a great character. Louis is genuinely interesting as a vampire who hates what he has become, especially considering this was first published back in 1976.

She didn’t invent the idea of a vampire who is regretful and sympathetic, but she almost certainly brought the concept to mainstream audiences. Back when she wrote that book, vampires were generally seen as monsters to be hunted down.

The trouble came when Interview with the Vampire was became a huge hit.
It’s much like Night of the Living Dead. It was a movie that wowed audiences. It was creepy in tone and had a genuinely good story. It was so good, in fact, that it spawned an entire genre of films… and now, several decades later, we have movies about hillbilly zombies on the moon.

That’s the curse of having a successful story. It gets copied, and those copies are rarely as good as the original. As the genre grows, the quality always seems to diminish. And really… that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes the bad rip-offs are incredibly fun. They don’t make the good movies go away… they just accompany them.

With Anne Rice, however, it was a little different. She didn’t spawn a new genre. She redefined a character type to mainstream audiences. While it’s not her fault at all, the result is that we now have a new popular view of what a vampire is supposed to be.

And it’s a view I’m not particularly fond of.

Louis was a great character because he was a freak. He was the only vampire that hated being a vampire. Every other vampire in that first novel loved it, even Claudia. Now, it seems like most modern vampire stories have to have a troubled vampire protagonist that’s a “good guy.” This good vampire has become the norm instead of the exception.

The pinnacle of this progression is Edward Cullen. Let’s think about this… Edward has unlimited strength, he never dies, and he never harms a human being… and yet, he’s always upset about his “horrible” condition. The worst thing Edward has to live with is the fact that he can’t just give in to his every craving. Well, guess what? We all have to deal with that, but we don’t get to be immortal super heroes.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m ready to see old fashioned monstrous vampires come back to the forefront. There are some great movies – old and new – where vampires are still monsters. You just have to weed through an ocean of “pity me” vamps to find them.

With that in mind, in my next article, I’ll be giving a list of vampire movies that still have some bite. If you have any you’d like to see added to that list, feel free to suggest them in the comment section of this blog.

Author’s note: I don’t think there was actually a movie about hillbilly zombies on the moon, but now I kind of want to see one.

These undead being have been proven to have much bite...