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Andrew Eaton-Lewis: I look forward to World War Z, and not just to see if Greggs the baker survives

ITHOUGHT I’d lost interest in zombies. It’s eight years now since the undead were brought back to life by the double whammy of Dawn Of The Dead (the remake) and Shaun Of The Dead and, lately, the genre has begun to go a bit mouldy again. We’ve had Nazi zombies (twice, in Outpost and Dead Snow), reality TV zombies (Dead Set), Mexican zombies (Juan Of The Dead – what next? Taiwan Of The Dead?), Bill Murray as a zombie (in Zombieland), even Cockneys Vs Zombies.

ITHOUGHT I’d lost interest in zombies. It’s eight years now since the undead were brought back to life by the double whammy of Dawn Of The Dead (the remake) and Shaun Of The Dead and, lately, the genre has begun to go a bit mouldy again. We’ve had Nazi zombies (twice, in Outpost and Dead Snow), reality TV zombies (Dead Set), Mexican zombies (Juan Of The Dead – what next? Taiwan Of The Dead?), Bill Murray as a zombie (in Zombieland), even Cockneys Vs Zombies.

Nothing against any of these, particularly, but the cumulative effect is that a potent symbol is becoming worn out by overuse. Even The Walking Dead, a properly gripping TV show, is essentially revisiting the same thematic territory as George Romero was exploring back in 1978 in his original, superior Dawn Of The Dead – how difficult it is to hold on to your humanity (and, in particular, your moral compass) when surrounded by people who have lost theirs entirely.

Two new films look promising though, and I don’t mean the imminent, not strictly necessary remake of Evil Dead. The first is Warm Bodies, whose hero R, in a smart twist, is not a survivor of a zombie apocalypse but an actual zombie (Nicholas Hoult from About A Boy and Skins). Its central idea – that the redeeming power of love slowly brings back R’s humanity – has led some to describe it as a zombie Twilight, but it looks to me more like a cross between Shaun Of The Dead (in that it’s a comedy with a shambling, perplexed Brit as its hero) and Romero’s Day Of The Dead (in that the villain is a military man who has no interest in helping zombies rediscover their humanity and just wants to shoot them all in the head).

Warm Bodies is based on a book by Isaac Marion which, as well as being about the humanising power of love, is about the humanising power of art. Julie, the object of R’s affections, copes with the apocalypse by collecting priceless works of art (a project her military father thinks is a waste of time). R’s journey back towards humanity is helped by listening to the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. As someone who endlessly bangs on about the humanising power of art for a living, I’ll be interested to see how much the film explores this idea.

The other zombie movie I’m looking forward to is World War Z, and not just to see if Greggs the bakers survives the zombie onslaught (key scenes, as you may know, were filmed in George Square in Glasgow). I keep reading that this film had script problems, and went through months of reshoots, and that this means it won’t be very good. But I’m still interested. This is, I think, the first ever global zombie war movie. I’d have preferred it if Danny Boyle had got round to making 28 Months Later by now, but this’ll do in the meantime.

 

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