In my slightly-crazed mind, Zombies are awesome and nothing brings them to life (or should that be death) better than movies. Now, now - hold on there sports-fans; I can hear you groaning, itching to shout at me that not all Zombie movies are "good" - in fact, many of you may go as far as to say that the vast majority are bad, nothing more than trashy media to while away a couple of hours. I understand that and, while reserving judgement on the overall quality of the Zombie film genre, have devised several (eight coincidentally) bare bones movie scenarios that I think may buck the trend. These are entirely my own ideas and, to the best of my knowledge, are not based on any forthcoming or cancelled movie projects.
I passionately believe that the Zombie genre needs an all-action, minimal story, visually heart-pounding movie to regain some of its, debatably, waning "coolness". The type of movie filled to the brim with big men, big guns, big muscles and even bigger explosions. There should be ample big vehicles too; tanks, jeeps, planes, helicopters and so forth. Of course, this could be a completely new movie - one not following in any series - but, I think, this Zombified, bullet-ridden mayhem would be an ideal successor to the Olympus has fallen / London has fallen series. It just seems a natural fit for the has fallen series of movies, an obvious escalation of terrorists first capturing the White House, then destroying London. It would also be fascinating to see how the Secret Service and US President would deal with a Zombie outbreak - probably by shooting them, many, many times.
So the story would be something about a terrorist attack using a new biochemical weapon, detonating as a gas above US soil, raining down from the sky and turning the majority of the population of America into hordes of World War Z Zombies. It would then be up to the president and his team of bad-ass secret service, as well as help from an increasingly overrun army, to solve the problem by any means necessary. There would need to be a bit at the end where the terrorists got their comeuppance, probably by a precision missile launched from a navy battle cruiser, maintaining the stupidly over-the-top nature of the film. The message is clear, the US president always wins.
A sequel to 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road must be on the way, given the phenomenal success at the box office - despite the exhausting filming conditions that has put the original director off doing another one shot on-location, in Australia. This fantastical second movie may not involve Zombies but, to me, and at the risk of become repetitive, Zombies would be a truly epic and worthwhile addition to the post-apocalyptic Mad Max universe - not true 'George Romero' living dead, but similar horrors, twisted and adapted to a world where food and water are scarce. In my vision, Zombies are more like very, very crazy people that have become this way through drinking "Guzzolene" - the term for gasoline in this mad future-world. They drive around all-day in hastily built cars (or modified dirt-bikes), at breakneck speeds, mainly in packs, crazed expressions on their faces and no regard for safety, often ramming into their foe's vehicle and using that momentum to slingshot themselves aboard. To further emphasize the craziness of these Earthly demonic beings, their vehicles are littered with useless modifications and cluttered with objects that serve no purpose whatsoever - they just look "good" to the Zombie owner.
On a side note, the Mad Max universe is heavily based on religion with worshipers of the holy V8 engine, references to the archangel Combustion and a Jesus-like figure named Max; the sole person who remembers the better world that came before the bombs dropped, the beacon of hope in a time of darkness. Zombies, plagues and resurrection are all mentioned in the bible - a major religious tome - so the basic concept of incorporating these things into the dust-filled world of the future makes sense.
It has been confirmed by Disney, proud owners of Lucasfilm and therefore the Indiana Jones intellectual property, that Harrison Ford will return as Indiana Jones in a brand new adventure in 2019, directed by Steven Spielberg. This news may not be to everyone's liking, after all, the most recent Indiana Jones revival, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, didn't go down so well with critics and viewers alike. Still, I'm about to make it all better by suggesting that they add Zombies to the fifth instalment.
Indiana Jones being a film series heavily rooted in archaeological adventures and the recovering of certain mythic artefacts, lest they fall into the hands of evildoers, is the perfect catalyst for a "relinking" of the modern day biological shambling, brainless ghoul to the ancient Voodoo heritage of Zombiism. This, in my humble opinion, is something that needs to be brought back to the Zombie films of today - yes, escaped viruses running amok and turning infected into ravenous Zombies is all well and good but it is only small part of the Zombiistic culture. I want to see magic and mysticism return to the undead world, where a single character rules over an army of grotesque abominations - a Bokor creating mindless slaves to do his will. Of course, the real-world Bokor's did not create actual Zombies as we know them today, they did not actually resurrect the dead, so some leeway with the source material would be needed. Also, the Zombies in this movie would be proper "old school" Night of the Living Dead horrors; being a bit more bland than the "torn up" Zombies of The Walking Dead, using tools as weapons in very basic ways.
Naturally, someone who had the power to not only create an army of the dead, but also command it, would be extremely high on any evil megalomaniac's wish list - just imagine the unstoppable power a nation would have if literally every dead body was a potential recruit.
The minute I played the Nazi Zombie Army video games from Rebellion, I knew they would make excellent movies, given the right director and visual style. I see these films as being very non-serious, grindhouse flicks; Planet Terror meets the high-octane remake of Dawn of the Dead, seasoned with elements of Inglorious Bastards. Nazi's have always been considered the villains of the modern world, due to their dubious antics throughout World War II, so combining them with Zombies, a potential great villain of the near-future, seems the logical choice. Just imagine hordes of undead German soldiers, some fast, some slow, some wielding heavy firearms, spreading outwards from Berlin, commanded by a demonic Hitler who has rediscovered an ancient occult object granting him the power to control the army of undead he has risen. The Allies, some of them trapped in a foreign land filled with eerie green light and a strange perpetual twilight, would have to battle foes from beyond the grave before encountering the big man himself, imbued with unholy strength and unnatural cosmic abilites. If any of these movie concepts come to fruition, being turned into actual motion pictures, this has to be the one.
This is a very personal suggestion which could either be a cult classic or something that causes major upset to the normal way of things. It is basically a story where the audience is sympathetic to the Zombie; the simple re-animated dead, wandering around with their child-like intelligence, being the colloquial "good" guys of the picture, living humans playing the part of the "baddies".
As the story goes, and this is a bare bones introduction to best get my heinous idea across, Zombies exist, maybe only a few but the former outbreak did not trigger the apocalypse many people feared. Just like in Land of the Dead (this movie could even be a follow on to that masterpiece), some Zombies are slightly more intelligent than others, the limited number of these brainboxes guiding and "teaching" the mindless masses. Roving packs are formed, one "clever" Zombie leading a bunch of stupid Zombies on an endless quest across the globe, maybe searching for someplace where they are not ridiculed, not looked down upon by the living. After all, the only real difference between a Zombie and a human is that one is undead, the other is not.
One of the less intellectually-endowed Zombies from a pack, or maybe a group of such Zombies, has become stuck during their endless voyage - just tangled in graveyard weeds, lacking the cognitive focus to free themselves and continue on. A group of Attack the block style teenagers find this helpless moving corpse, moaning and grasping; getting ferocious at the presence of nearby food but simply following natural instinct, not meaning any harm. Still, the walking dead are hated by humanity, a stain on a Godly realm. The teenagers see the opportunity this presents - a free kill and something they have been educated to do whenever possible, provided the risk is not great. However, these teenagers do not kill the Zombie straight away - the Zombies have ruined the easy, relatively care-free way of human life and, in their eyes, a quick and merciful death is too good for this pathetic maggothead, caught in a trap that was never meant to be. Instead, they take the tainted soul to a nearby abandoned shed, restrained at all times, and proceed to torture it; flesh cut off there, a bit of severe burning here, some extended hanging from the neck and so on. Zombies don’t feel pain and don’t die unless the brain is destroyed - the kids know this from repeated education and tales of a former war - so why not have a little fun? The Zombie does not react to the pain or show any emotion - it does not even have the brainpower to understand these concepts, all it can do is moan and snarl at its captors, returning to a useless hanging corpse when left alone. But then, what if a Zombie does feel pain, simply lacking the ability to express itself? What if the Zombie does have emotion, the unholy cause of its resurrection forbidding it from showing this emotion? After all, the only real difference between a Zombie and a human is that one is undead, the other is not.
Eventually, the "smart" Zombie of the pack realises it is missing brethren and, after searching, and even more loss at the result of humans, finds the location of the wayward brother. The teenagers are killed and eaten, the brains of all but one devoured to ensure they do not resurrect. The attack is labelled as the worst Zombie atrocity since the war and, naturally, the human's solution is to destroy the entire pack responsible in a largely one-sided fight, of uneven odds. As for the one teenager who was left to resurrect as a walking corpse, he must now find his own way in the world, with no pack to guide him and hostile humans all around, continued "life" but not necessarily a "good life". After all, the only real difference between a Zombie and a human is that one is undead, the other is not.
I adore the Fast & Furious movies and I also, as should be painfully apparent by now, adore Zombies. Suddenly, a crazed thought crawled into my brain; what if the two could be combined? This would be insanely awesome, at least, in my warped little mind - just imagine Vin Diesel blapping fast-moving infected with a pump-action shotgun while yelling at helpless survivors to get in the car, before speeding off, back to base. The combination of deadly Zombies and people relying on fast cars for survival would be a unique idea that would really bash home the 'Ride or Die' mentality. If for no other reason, the Fast films have done pretty much everything; jumped cars from a speeding train, taken down a herculean jet and even driven modified vehicles out of a plane, mid-flight - pitting cars against Zombies in a high-octane battle for survival just seems like the next big thing on the grocery list.
In terms of a possible narrative, however, this movie would probably be a spin-off to the main Fast & Furious franchise. The plot would primarily revolve around survival and survivor rescue - supply runs and so on - filling the movie with quiet periods to build character followed by massive action; the Fast crew are heroes and the apocalypse won’t change this. The government would be involved somehow, having created the Zombies as a weapon and those Zombies being released, shown to the outside world as an accident but actually done deliberately to test the combat effectiveness of Zombies (known as experiment subjects) in a "quarantined" urban environment.
This one probably comes as no surprise to readers of the fantastic Star Wars: Deathtroopers book - there is even a trailer for the book on YouTube showing just what a movie adaption could be like. Basically, the narrative is Star Wars with Zombies; a prison ship called Purge has a badly damaged hyperdrive and, in an act of desperation, docks with an Imperial Star Destroyer, found adrift in space. That Destroyer, codenamed Vector, was transporting an artificially created virus, Blackwing, to an isolated outpost for testing except, surprise surprise, it never got there. The virus, intended to increase the capacity of the human body to heal itself and to slow the onset of decay and rigor mortis (effectively, to make soldiers fight longer and harder), got out and infected all crew aboard the Vector and all Stormtroopers hitching a ride. The virus did not function exactly as told and instead turned its victims into Zombies, hellbent on destruction. These were not normal Zombies though - they still had some intelligence and, thanks to the virus, outstanding agility for people who are technically dead. The intelligence was shared between hosts - a hive mind, every infected organism working as one to distribute the virus throughout the galaxy, an unending struggle to claim more lifeless slaves for the unseen force controlling the stupefied puppets.
That may all sound a bit of a joke; light-hearted entertainment for sci-fi horror fans - jest, however, it is not. Zombies do exist in the Star Wars universe; as heretical as it may sound, this is true, official cannon. The art book accompanying the amazing Rogue One film makes direct comparison between the Deathtroopers in that film and how they were given their name from the rumoured physical ‘dead troopers’ from the Vector. So, there is still hope ("Rebellions are built on hope") for a Star Wars: Deathtroopers movie. Just think of the massive shock appeal it would have; not only having a darker take on the Star Wars universe but also having Disney (the current franchise owners, associated with Mickey Mouse and other fluffy things) produce it.
So, you all should know by now that The Dead Times is a website of my own creation - not typical material for a movie. However, in the latter months of 2016, I started thinking about a background story. The Dead Times is a true Zombie post-apocalyptic setting; the entire planet has been overrun with the living dead, there are pockets of survivors here and there, each with varied backgrounds; mechanic, political, military and so on, but very little hope remains, humanity clearly outnumbered and with only the smallest chance of redemption. So, I thought, how does the world get this bad? How can things go on so long that rolling back the clock to happier times is simply impossible? Zombies, on their own, are slow (in my mind) and idiotic - even in the large herds that would follow an initial outbreak - they are never going to be the sole cause of humanity's end. There must be some external force to help them on their way and, as history has shown us time and time again, as depressing as it may be, no one is better suited to kill humans than other humans.
It starts on the island of Haiti. A group of hooded zealots are performing some ancient Voodoo ritual around a dead man on a stone pyre. The dead man, after the ceremony is completed and a brief delay to let audiences wonder just what is going on, rises as a Zombie and slowly lurches into a nearby village, biting and tearing at innocents, claiming more and more souls for the undead army. Villages continue to fall, the dead growing in number, foreign countries ignoring the pleas for help as superstitious mojo jumbo from a backwater land. Consuming the entire island and without any need for air, the staggering dead simply walk off the island, treading the bottom of the sea, popping up on distant shores the world over. The Zombie population of each continent grows daily with yet more of the walking horrors spilling forth from the life-giving oceans. Safe zones are established to protect remaining civilians and, with sustained military support, the land battles are being won - the dead being sent back to the grave. The US, vowing to rid the world of the Zombie menace and secure the future of humanity, launches a massive naval operation to clear the remaining undead from the sea - a over-the-top show of force to solidify the image of heroic Uncle Sam. Despite heavy losses, the war with the dead is all but over.
However, why should the Americans get all the credit? Why, with crippled militaries and civilians kept inside narrow "safe zones", should the present circumstance be anything less than an opportunity for others to take power? What too, if the Americans, after supposedly saving humanity, want something back - after all, would they not be self-proclaimed gods? Propaganda is dropped, skirmishes are waged, rebellions are formed, people fight people and people die... During the chaos, the remaining undead are forgotten - feeding off those who escaped the murderous "safe zones", growing in number, forming hordes large enough to overrun the now weakly defended "safe zones" and growing more, always growing. In the end, it was not the dead who brought humanity to its knees, it was the living and as for those who held on to power, claiming it as a war-torn trophy, the only rule they now have, is the rule of the dead.
There you have it, undead-lovers - a whopping eight movie concepts involving Zombies that I would really like to see come to fruition. What do you guys think - am I onto winners with any of them or should they all be thrown into the pit of Satan? Let your opinions be known in the comments below.
Zombies are great - Zombie movies, not so much. Contained within this article, are eight of my own concepts for Zombie movies that could breathe new life into a dying genre.