MUch as they reanimated the bodies in the center, refuse zombiefilm to die. With this week's American release of Anna and the Apocalypse – a juvenile zombie musical – comes out just a few weeks after Overlord – a second world war action-horror hybrid – it's clear that filmmakers still find new ways to record stories about the wandering dead.
Even before George A Romero was the groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead, the modern zombie myths proved extremely malleable, and filmmakers have continuously found creative, surprising and often ridiculous new ways to fit these creatures into stories across a variety of genres. Here is an overview of some of the more memorable examples of genre-raising zombie mashups.
If the audience reactions from last year's festival circuit are some indication, Anna and the Apocalypse will probably be the most popular zombie music yet. However, it will not be the first. The honor belongs to 2006's Z: A Zombie Musical, a campy, ultra-low budget romp in the Rocky Horror tradition. Anna will not even be the first zombie music released this year, as Disney's zombies, a child-friendly musical tween comedy that blamed on the company's eponymous network, keeps it apart.
Slim picker to be sure, but if we expand our scope beyond the realm of the property, we can count on one of the biggest music videos at any time, Michael Jackson's Thriller. Directed by John Landis (who had already given us one of the more memorable zombies of the cinema), his most famous moments, King of Pop, is leading a crew of the shuffling undead in an instant iconic dance song.
War and zombies
Anna may not be the first movie of its kind, but it is one of the only films of its kind. The same can not be said of Overlord. There are many other World War II zombie movies, most of them Z-grade deals like Outpost series, Horrors of War, Dead of War and Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead. (Better known – at least to horror fans – is the Norwegian movie Dead Snow in 2009, and its successor Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead, both of which are set today, have Nazi zombies.)
It is easy to find the driving force behind this harsh tropic: the myths surrounding Nazi war-time experiments and their ties to the occult make them custom-made for zombies, even though no reanimated corpse can compare to reality graves at that time.
Blockbusters of living dead
It speaks to their adaptability as one of the 10 highest-growing zombie movies from all time, only two of them – Pet Semetary and Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake – can be considered as traditional horror movies.
Of the remaining eight, three are glossy action-horror hybrids (World War II, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Apocalypse), two are animated children's movies (ParaNorman, Hotel Transylvania), two are action comedies with young adult romances in the center (Zombieland, Warm Bodies), and one is a dark cartoon fantasy (death becomes her).
It is interesting that, despite their popularity, the Resident Evil films (six in total, with reboot of works) consist of the only A-list's zombie franchise, although future followers of Zombieland and World War Z (with David Fincher, of all people linked directly) can change it soon.
Zombies and comedy go hand in hand. This has been the case since at least Dawn of the Dead, which represented an unmistakably satirical connection between its hordes of brainless zombies and the real horde of brainless American customers.
As the genre exploded in the next decades, it also made its comic possibilities, with directors like Sam Raimi (Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness), Peter Jackson (Braindead, AKA Dead Alive), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) Frank Henenlotter (Frankenhooker), and James Gunn (Slither) mines the zombies for all their gory slapstick potential. With the same approach, but infusion of his story and characters with greater emotional depth, Edgar Wright had a break with Shaun of the Dead, and in the process he created one of the most influential zombie films of any kind. This influence can be seen over the majority of comic zombie movies since, especially in the similar theme-slacker-v-zombie films John Dies at the End and Juan of the Dead.
Zombidia is not limited to blood-sucked syngagger; They drive the range, from the Dead Heat, to the Fido, the Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Political Satir (Uncle Sam) and especially the spacecraft (My boyfriend is back, Funeral Ex, Life for Beth, and the previously mentioned hot organs).
The simple replacement of sexual desire for murderous urge makes the connection between sex and zombies an obvious one. This terrain is explored in greater depth in less easily defined films such as Shivers, Cemetery Man and It follows.
Of the different genres, no one is more intrinsic than the historical / romance / horror / comedy-of-man's flop of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen's "parody", adapted to Seth Grahame-Smith's novel in 2009.
While the novel experienced some success with the flash-in-the-pan, which inspired a series of late knockoffs and "thematic sequels" (like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters), the film version was completely ignored by the time it came to screens seven years later.
Despite the film's example, that is possible to refashion a literary classic by infusing it with zombie shenanigans, proved by the 1943s hauntingly beautiful I went with a zombie who takes another romantic novel from the 1800s – Charlotte Brontës Jane Eyre – and transplants his story to the voodoo- haunted Caribbean.
Did nothing more than the eye-rolling title of its bosses and told it to make it a feature, the legendary RKO producer Val Lewton came up with the ingenious idea of adapting Bront's gothic romance and calling the gothic to truly scary levels without sacrificing any of the romances.
Granted, the reanimated bodies in I went with a zombie are of Haitian folklore variety (very different from the Romero-esque breed that make up the overwhelming majority of modern zombie danger), but it is still positive that some zombie movies have the potential to become a masterpiece no matter how ridiculous its premise.
Despite some highly acclaimed examples of recent years, especially the visually overwhelming Busan Train and the Thoughtful Girl with all presents, the overlap of zombies throughout the pop culture has caused their popularity to be weaker. But that does not mean they should stop, as long as innovative filmmakers find new ways to undermine audiences and genre expectations.
The next few years of crops would prove to be particularly interesting: together with Finchers World War Z sequel, we also get a zombie comedy from arthouse favorite Jim Jarmusch, with Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adam Driver and Steve Buscemi. We will soon add a new category to the list: Auteurist Zombie Cinema.