Film and Game Reviews


September 21, 2011

Zombies – Why we love them in games and films

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Written by: PlayEject
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The concept of a Zombie outbreak is far from new – George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead brought an idea to the big screen in 1968 and although he may not have been the first to think of the whole Zombie concept, the Living Dead literally exploded from thereon in to people’s minds. Creating such visually graphic scenes of what could happen if a pack of hungry Zombies rose up and attacked just a small town brought fear and excitement to many which sparked a revolution and a new genre of Survival-Horror was born.

This Survival-Horror has since been replicated and recreated in a massive number of ways since Romero’s first film, not to mention in his subsequent films – Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead (including a remake).
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But it isn’t just Hollywood that has seen the potential in this franchise – the small screen has seen whole series’ based on the Zombie outbreaks and attacks – the successful Walking Dead and in the UK, Survivors, were both good examples of how the original ideas have been taken and run with by the producers wanting to show more of the impact an outbreak could produce.

Sure enough it wasn’t long before the Video Games industry also followed in the footsteps and started introducing Zombies into games – early video games such as Ghost & Goblins portrayed Zombies in their simplest form – as lumbering brain dead humanoids who needed to be avoided or re-killed. Fast forward a few years and the major impact of the highly successful Resident Evil series from Capcom really catapulted the concept of Zombies into a new generation of homes and minds. Here, Zombies were more dangerous and thanks to the technology of the original Sony Playstation, the environment built up around the Resident Evil series was able to recreate the Survival-Horror feel of the big screen.

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The outbreak begins – Resident Evil

But what is it about Zombies that makes us want to watch or play in the environments that create fear and intense moments of panic as we see loved ones munching on their family before getting their head blown off by a red-neck and a shotgun? Under normal circumstances, seeing masses of humans being mowed down in any environment would cause massive media outrage. The first comparison of which (in video games) would be the Airport level from Modern Warfare 2 – you can mow down innocents with a machine gun as you walk on by. This caused upset among many who felt that being able to kill innocent people in such a graphic way was unsuitable for any market. Compare that to any recent Zombie game – Dead Island for example – and you can decapitate and mutilate humans in a shopping mall to your heart’s content with literally anything you see. As the outbreaks of Zombie uprisings are typically from some sort of biological accident, aren’t Zombies innocent too? Maybe the argument isn’t as black and white but it still poses questions.

With 28 Days Later, the film follows the sole survivor in a Zombie outbreak who is left wandering alone around London trying to find out what happened and stay alive. In PlayEject’s opinion, this is one of the best Zombie films that captures the true Survival-Horror essence. Totally vunerable in a familiar land that is turned upside down and almost helpless against the cause with the only real option is to take shelter where possible and loot what you can.

But there are other Zombie films that take things a little less seriously – Shaun of the Dead makes light of George A Romero’s classic by pitting 2 no hoper friends against the rest of the world in a Zombie outbreak that uses cliche’s to add great comedy value.

Quite literally, Zombies are everywhere – people will dress up as them for parties or nights out and they’ve even made their way into huge games that are nothing to do with the Living Dead – take Call of Duty – the add-on packs are Zombie levels!!

But not all Zombie films and games are great. Because its relatively easy to dress up like a Zombie (as the morning after a PlayEject night out will prove!), there are tons of low budget Zombie films which have either never made it or should never have been made. Planet Terror is an example of the former – a cult classic that takes Zombie uprising to another level with a girl with a gun as a leg! There’s the main reason it was a Cult classic!

Zombies in games and films PlayEject

A swift blow to the head in a supermarket – cliche Zombie killing in Zombieland

So maybe then we love Zombies because it allows us to do harm to fellow humans without consequence? Its basically the ultimate form of the self-defence excuse as its you or them and as you can’t reason with a Zombie then violence is the answer. Literally every Survival-Horror video game focuses on the many ways you can kill a Zombie while the main stream Zombie films, for example Zombieland, portray killing Zombies as a necessary means to survival.

Maybe – just maybe, we are all sub consciously awaiting the first Zombie outbreak and preparing ourselves for the inevitable. For warned is forearmed they say…!

So to summarise – if a dude comes flying at you like he has rabies and he has bite marks on him then he’s likely a Zombie. Take his head off before running to shelter with a topless girl but make sure you avoid any large public places like shopping malls. Track down the government who are likely hiding a scientific experiment gone wrong but watch your back with the other survivors and the token idiot who thinks they can go it alone!

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