Forget traditional Christmas movies like “Miracle On 34th Street.” Put all memories of “The Great Escape” aside. Even the umpteenth rerun of Bond cannot defeat the new holiday season favourite: the Zombie film. Or so I learned this past Christmas.
When you think about it logically, what better way is there to kill a few hours over the festive season than watching the undead chomp their merry way through a few whining stereotypes?
After all, Christmas is the holiday that most closely resembles how the sensible among us should react in a Zombie crisis. We lock ourselves away from the hoards of brain dead shoppers, scan the front door for unwanted guests, and sit tight with huge stockpiles of food and makeshift weapons.
Outside, as the chaos reaches fever pitch, we smartly avoid a bloody mess of credit crunchers and doorstop lenders, the overextended and the rabidly demented as they do battle for the last Nintendo Wii.
When the carnage of Christmas Eve subsides and we brave a sneaky look from behind the barricades we find an eerie calm has descended. The world has become as deserted as the streets of London in “28 Days Later”; the shopping malls as empty as “Dawn of the Dead,” original or remake.
But behind closed doors an insidious virus is spreading. Having feasted upon overdone turkey, mince pies and Toblerone, the victim falls into a death like paralysis onto the nearest sofa.
Hours later they awaken and the modern Zombie rears its ugly head. The sublime last shot of “Dead Set” has come home to roost. It looks like your nearest and dearest. DO NOT BE FOOLED. This creature will rip the remote straight from your hand and consume your flat screen in an orgy of bloodshot eyes and gnashing teeth.
Move well away from the DVD collection and exit as quickly as possible. The likelihood that the uncle who embarrassed you all day when alive is going to pick a decent movie when he is now the living dead is virtually zero.
Grab your essentials: Max Brooks in his excellent “Zombie Survival Guide” advises you ask yourself one question, “Do I really need this?” If the answer is yes make sure you grab your gear and establish your destination.
It is preferable to find someone who has a. An Xbox, b. Xbox Live, c. “Call of Duty 5” and d. someone who has completed the campaign so that you can play the mini Zombie WW2 game; thus forgetting how disappointed you were after seeing “The Outpost.”
The Outpost should have been the holy grail of Zombie filmmaking. It promised so much – Nazi Zombies – but delivered so little. The end result was more like phantom Nazis pretending to be Zombies.
Avoid disappointment. Once you are safely tucked away with fellow survivors from the Christmas Apocalypse you should choose your viewing material carefully. To know your enemy inside and out Romero’s Dead series is essential.
His work spans 5 decades and encompasses everything from Vietnam to racism, consumerism to vivisection, and gated communities to the Internet. If the Western measured the American experience in the first half of the 20th century, the Zombie movie is its barometer in the second half.
Zombies are now the bloody yardsticks that measure global cinema. The Spanish film “REC” (remade as “Quarantine” in record time in Hollywood) adds a Catholic twist that looks timely as the church continues to court controversy, whereas “28 Weeks Later” pertinently explores the perils of occupation by a foreign power.
The forthcoming adaptation of “World War Z” threatens to be the first truly epic Zombie feature; we can only drool at the prospect of thousands of Zombies in a pitched battle with survivors, as the movie will cover every continent. And of course, “28 Months Later” will see Europe brace itself for a British invasion a thousand times worse than a few football hooligans boozed up on the Eurostar.
Our current social, ideological and economic climate makes for rich pickings thematically at the moment: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza are the obvious choices. Surely our financial institutions could also offer some juicy meat for satire?
If you ever exhaust the endless supply of Zombie media, finish with “Resident Evil” or complete “Left 4 Dead,” and always remember the deep and meaningful conversations you will have for weeks afterwards with friends and yourself: How would I cope in an outbreak? Where would I hold up? What weapons would I have? Could I shoot my own mother in the head?
Of course it’s all fiction and soon you will be back to work without time to think this all through. But can you really afford not to?
After all; Zombies Ate My Christmas. Who says they won’t eventually eat yours?