Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Zombie movies for all

From horror to laughter: zombie movies for every viewing experience
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Whenever I need a good comfort watch, I turn to a zombie movie. It may seem odd, with their inherent elements of strong violence, gore and death. For me, watching them is a form of escapism. Beyond the thrill of seeing characters battle or evade hordes of blood-thirsty zombies, I find the variations across the genre fascinating. The breakdowns of society, the moral reactions to those breakdowns amid the stress of survival, the themes and even the zombies are never the same from one movie to the next.

Each film offers a unique spin on the same decidedly horrifying premise. Sometimes they chill me to the bone or keep me in stitches, but I always leave wondering about my survival odds in various scenarios. I think I’d fare better against the slow, blank-faced zombies of George A. Romero than I would against the crazed, Olympian decathlete-esque zombies of “World War Z.”

Although not everyone shares my passion for the zombie movie genre, it has a great degree of variety. Whether you are looking for a movie with drama, action, comedy, horror, or suspense, there’s a zombie movie that has you covered. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite zombie movies that are sure to satisfy any viewer.

28 Days Later

 28 Days Later,” directed by Danny Boyle, is a hallmark in the zombie genre. The movie offers a medley of action and suspense as its characters traverse across “Rage Virus” ravaged England seeking safety from the infected who — as the name of the virus suggests — are manic and murderous. The movie follows Jim, played by Cillian Murphy, after he wakes up alone in his hospital bed 28 days after the outbreak began. He goes on to find other survivors, accept his losses, form lasting connections, fight and flee the dead and discover the living can be just as much of a threat in this new world.

The cinematography of “28 Days Later” is shoddy, highlighting the disorientation of Jim and adds to the chaotic energy. However, many of the shots and sequences throughout the movie are dramatic and beautiful. The soundtrack balances between rousing a sense of danger and emphasizing moments of relaxation amid the ultimate freedom of a fallen society. Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Naomie Harris offer performances that counteract the shortcomings of the film’s lesser-known names. It’s an incredibly well produced, low budget zombie movie perfectly suited for those who love a thrilling, action-packed story.

Shaun of the Dead

 Shaun of the Dead,” directed by Edgar Wright, is a horror/comedy that serves as a model for the crossover of the two genres. The film follows Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, and his deadbeat best friend Ed, played by Nick Frost, as they lead a group of survivors to their local pub. At the bar, they believe they’ll be safe from the extremely slow zombies that took over London’s outskirts. Along the way, a series of hilarious moments and mistakes ensue that balance the moments of heaviness, maintaining the lighthearted nature of the film and establishing it as a comedy.

The movie begins by calling out the seriousness of the genre. They foreshadow the events to come by portraying Londoners as naturally zombie-like and then by having the zombies seem essentially harmless, even though they’ve managed to take over London.

It’s shot with a fast, rhythmic pace that aids the comedic value, while helping produce tension in other scenes. The dialogue is funny and witty, offering a slew of quotable moments certain to stick with viewers. Between the elevator music-esque opening song and the sci-fi beat that plays when danger is impending, the great soundtrack solidifies both the comedic and horrifying elements of the film.


 Alive,” directed by Il Cho, is a horrifying South Korean zombie movie that excels in delivering moments of gut-wrenching suspense. It follows Joon-woo, played by Yoo Ah-in, an avid video game streamer, who wakes to find chaos erupting all around his apartment.

After turning on the news and hearing the disturbing nature of the “cannibalistic” situation unfolding, he opens his door to a man, who’s been bitten, begging for his help. After surviving the encounter with the man-turned-zombie, he realizes he can’t reasonably brace the zombie horde that’s amassed around and within his building. The rest of the movie takes us through the draining of his hope, the rekindling of his will to survive and his daring feats of courage to escape his overrun apartment building.

The film is shot with still frames and slow zoom-ins balanced by high-paced transitions and sequences, giving the feel of a classic thriller movie. The zombies are extremely well crafted and terrifying. Once someone’s infected with the virus, they contort and snap their bodies so unnaturally that their bones crack. Their faces feature gnashing teeth and bleeding eyes of pure hate. They move fast and collectively, surrounding the apartment in chase of Joon-woo, leaving little room for error on his part. “Alive” is a cleanly shot horror film with great make-up and special effects that keeps you on the edge of your seat until its unpredictable, satisfying end.

Honorable Mentions 

Day of the Dead: “Day of the Dead” is the third movie in the “Night of the Living Dead” series directed by the godfather of the zombie genre, George A. Romero. It depicts the last of humanity’s struggle to remain civil while they hunker down in an abandoned military base as the undead gather above them. For those that like psychological sci-fi movies with action, “Day of the Deadshould be added to the list.

Return of the Living Dead: “Return of the Living Dead” is an ‘80s cult classic comedy-horror movie that playfully spoofs George A. Romero’s movies, while remaining undeniably unique. For those looking for a humorous ode to the Reagan-era punk scene with ravenous, brain-hungry zombies, look no further.

Cargo: “Cargo” is an Australian zombie movie set in the Outback. Andy, played by Martin Freeman, attempts to find safety for his infant daughter after suffering a bite from the infected. If you like dramas about family, sacrifice and long action-filled journeys, this is the movie for you.

Ryan Long can be reached at [email protected].

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