Tall, Dark, and Dead – 57 – Zombie Wars

Title: Zombie Wars
Year: 2006
Director: David A. Prior
Leads: Adam Stuart, Alissa Koenig

Favorite quote: “Say goodnight, pus-head.”

Thoughts: This time, watching the DVD counter was definitely more entertaining than watching the actual film. So I can tell you that:

At minute 6, I wanted to kill myself.

At minute 37, I thought the movie might redeem itself.

By minute 45, I knew that would never happen.

Zombie Wars really bothered me on a number of levels. It’s about an ongoing war between zombies and outlying posts of humans. Now, the zombies are portrayed as intelligent – they communicate amongst themselves, they observe a hierarchy, and they also raise humans for food, breeding them as livestock. They’re farming them! This could have been so incredibly awesome, had the movie not been so completely inept.

It turns out that the zombies did not come up with this system – it’s being orchestrated by an evil group of humans who are using the zombies to control their captives. The breeders, as part of their enslavement, work on a farm ostensibly to create food to feed themselves and their fellow slaves, which is actually going to the evil people. Or something. This idea took the only part of this movie that I wanted to follow, the intelligent zombies, and completely undermined and destroyed them. (It is an interesting idea, though, I’ll give it that.)

I think it’s often very useful to consider how and why the living use zombies and dead bodies, and what this says about both humanity and the dead. Zombies are dead bodies given a certain amount of autonomy, after all, and I think eroding that autonomy is the most common method of “othering” zombies. I say this as someone who cringes every time she uses the term “human” to describe a non-zombie, because to me, zombies are human. To paraphrase Dr. Manhattan, there is no molecular difference between a living and a dead human body. I think zombies, at their best, explore the darker side of humanity, stuff we aren’t necessarily comfortable dealing with while we’re alive. Therefore, I really, really don’t like to see them undermined like that.

But the worst part was the racism and sexism present in the film. I don’t want to make too much of this, but you tell ME what the filmmakers were trying to evoke when they did such things as, oh, I don’t know, creating long chains of living slaves connected at the neck and hands and marching them around. That bring to mind any images, for you? Remind you of a certain period in history? Because it sure as hell did me. Plus the human slaves are presented almost like old, negative stereotypes of natives – well, at the very least, they all seem to be very pretty girls dressed in enchantingly-torn rags. The Robert E. Howard of zombie films, this one. Is Solomon Kane going to leap out of the bushes and save them?

And apparently because some of them were born into slavery, and since zombies don’t speak, they’ve never heard English before? Come ON! The human brain is literally wired for language acquisition – even if I had been born in a isolated, sterile bubble with another human and nothing else, we would have evolved a language!  Besides, the zombies communicate with gestures – the humans surely would have picked up on this!

Argh. I can’t discuss this one anymore. Brain…melting….

Links: Zombie Wars at IMDB

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