An emotion largely left unexplored in our culture, the theme of hopelessness is rife in zombie films, with filmmakers free to roll around in dread and unease (and gore) like a pig in shit. Feeling nihilistic? Check out these fine examples of zombie cinema.
- Bio Zombie (1998) A funny and scary Japanese reinvention of Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Bio Zombie follows two pot-smoking mallrats as they accidentally run over a man who has ingested a tainted soft drink. Not knowing what to do, they bring the soon-to-be zombified man into the mall where they work. After breaking out of the trunk, Zombie #1 infects a whole gaggle of creepies who terrorize the few humans left in the mirrored, cavernous shopping mall. Lots of weird humor about sushi, cell phones, and pirated DVDs makes this a true homage to Romero's original "consumerism gone awry" vision.
- The Boneyard (1991) In recent years, computer effects have become laughably overused; thankfully, stuff like The Boneyard is still around. An over-the-top zombie classic, The Boneyard has some truly great makeup and puppetry effects, plus appearances by Phyllis Diller and Norman Fell (Mr. Roper on Three's Company). The creepy, hilarious gorefest centers on some horrifying zombie children (the product of an ancient "Oriental curse"), but the movie shines brightest in the last 30 minutes--when we are treated to enormous mutated puppet versions of Ms. Diller and her poodle, Floofsums.
- Lifeforce (1985) From Tobe Hooper (the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist) comes one of the most confused--but ultimately satisfying--scare-fests ever! Vampire aliens have mistakenly been brought back to Earth by some silly astronauts. One of the aliens, a buxom babe, breaks out of her confines and walks naked through the streets of London, sucking the lifeforce out of everyone she sees, turning them into icky skeletal zombies in the process. By the end, the movie is a muddled mess--but what a fun mess it is.