I recently reviewed a couple of movies with zombified characters I fell in love with, characters that made their respective movies so much more enjoyable than they would have been otherwise. This got me thinking about all the individual zombies I’ve come to love over the years. I’m not talking about the zombies who looked the goriest or had the best makeup work, but the zombies who had a character all their own. In fact, it got me thinking a bit too much and before I knew it I had a list of over fifty zombies that made me laugh, cringe, or feel, so I figured I’d narrow that down to ten, and then I had a list of thirty-two zombies because I apparently can’t understand my own instructions. Wanting to get that number further down so as not to waste your time, but at the same time wanting to share my favorites without cutting out too many, I finally got it down to twenty, but to still not waste your time (and not at all because I got sick and am cutting an article in half to pump my numbers) I figured I’d split the article in two. So, without further ado, here is part one of my favorite twenty zombies:
Roach (Trailer Park of Terror)
This rockabilly loving zombie rears his head in a film about a trailer park full of terror in case the you thought the title was a metaphor. A group of bad kids are on their way back from a religious retreat when an accident forces them to seek shelter from a woman named Norma, but unbeknownst to the kids, Norma made a deal with the devil, murdered everyone in her trailer park, and brought them back as zombies under her control. This includes the guitar toting Roach who’ll take any opportunity to climb atop a trailer and strum his way through some half decent songs. He isn’t developed much beyond chasing the kids out of pot fields and the guitar solos, but actor Myk Watford has fun with the character and gives him an energy that allows you to enjoy his antics even when said antics include him chopping off a drugged out young lady’s arm.
Randall Skeffington (Ugly Americans)
I’m not sure why this show only lasted two seasons. Maybe it wasn’t as funny as I thought, but if you can’t laugh at two bird-people, a creature whose entire language is comprised of different versions of the phrase “Suck My Balls,” dick boxing each other then what can you laugh at? Anyways, if you haven’t seen it, Ugly Americans was about New York City Department of Integration social worker Mark Lilly who had the difficult job of helping immigrants, monsters, demons, and various other creatures adjust to their new setting. Mark had three main people in his life, a drunken wizard he worked with, the demon he dated, and his foulmouthed zombie roommate Randall Skeffington. Randall is only a zombie because he thought becoming such would win him back his girlfriend, but over the course of the show comes to love his undead life. He patches things up with his still living father who fought against his kind in the “Zombie Wars,” he goes to a religious retreat to further his zombie expertise, and puts his body through a variety of abuses, so much so that his penis eventually runs off without him. He’s ecstatic about being a zombie, and he couldn’t care less who has a problem with that. It’s a fun character that lives out the worst of what we’d do if we were among the living dead.
Headpool (Marvel Comics)
The smallest addition to this list, Headpool is the undead head of Marvel antihero, and one of my favorite comic book characters, Deadpool. In the Marvel Universe exists an Earth where every hero and villain became a zombie and consumed all life on the planet before turning their attention towards other Earths. One attempt at bridging the gap between their world and ours led a zombified Deadpool to the main Marvel Universe of 616. After his body was destroyed in a battle, the head was put into a zombie prison where, now calling itself Headpool, he escaped with the original Marvel zombie Simon Garth (imaginatively called Zombie) and eventually made his way into a group of multidimensional Deadpools known as The Deadpool Corps where he was fitted with a spinner hat capable of letting him fly around. He’s not a particularly deep character, think Deadpool only with a lot of head quips, but as the zombie version of my third favorite Marvel hero after Colossus (yeah, I peed myself a little when I saw the first trailer) and Spiderman, of course he’d get a spot on this list.
M (Warm Bodies)
I know a lot of people didn’t like this romantic tale of a zombie becoming human thanks to feelings, but despite its ludicrous plotline where the power of love trumps however many years of decay, I enjoyed it. My major complaint aside from the obvious was that it didn’t have enough of Rob Corddry’s M. Before protagonist R (Nicholas Hoult) tries to save his heart starting girlfriend, he spends his days wandering around an airport and having deep conversations with his only friend M, and by deep, I mean they just grunt back and forth. He’s not in the movie all that much, but his few short cameos are my favorite bits of the film, especially when he later leads a small horde to locate R. Corddry always manages to make me smile, and he’s no exception here.
Marcus Deckler (Dylan Dog: Dead of Night)
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is based on a comic book I mean to read, but from what I understand, my favorite character, Marcus Deckler, was someone they invented solely for the movie. I can’t tell if this is a shame or not because much of the character’s success in the film stems from the apprehensive and self-doubting performance of Sam Huntington. Marcus, an assistant to supernatural detective Dylan Dog, begins the film still among the living, but is murdered by a giant zombie early in the film. Though he returns distraught from the grave, he does what he can to move on, including attending zombie group meetings. There he finds an undead love interest and a group of zombies too frightened and apathetic to stand up for themselves, so he decides to stand up for them, becoming a hero in their eyes. It’s enjoyable to see his journey from terrified mess to self-assured leader.
Judge Death (2000 AD)
I was a little late to Judge Dredd, and my only experience dipping into that universe for many years came from the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film. Imagine my shock when I realized the cheesy film that featured a clearly stressed madman repeatedly screaming “I am the Law” wasn’t quite the same as the comic book. Don’t get me wrong, watching 90’s Stallone is always entertaining and you’re absolutely wrong if you don’t agree (or maybe just have better taste), but the comic is a very different beast, and it’s there where we find Judge Death. A sadistic man before his transformation, Judge Death reasoned that since only the living could commit crimes than all life itself must therefore be a crime, and made a deal to grant him the powers needed to bring about his twisted version of peace, a world with no life. His backstory and appearances make him an interesting character, but it’s the amazing artwork that truly make him such an enjoyable zombie.
This novel by author David Youngquist is one of my favorite depictions of life after a zombie apocalypse. When the dead began to rise, the rural Illinois town of Snareville was far enough off the beaten path to avoid the initial onslaught and used the extra time they were given to prepare their town for long term survival. It’s a favorite of mine for the attention to detail that paints a very realistic version of how a town might survive not just a zombie apocalypse, but any world altering event. There’s quite a few great characters in Snareville, but out of them all, Cindy is one that faces some of the greatest challenges. Thanks to the experimentations of a cruel scientist, Cindy is three quarters of the way to a zombie herself. She’s thankfully rescued, but faces a world that fears what she could be and a long road towards healing. Her growth as she regains her humanity manages to make her a very endearing, if not complete, zombie.
Brent Guthrie (Deadheads)
There’s a lot of good things I could say about Deadheads, the comedy is great, the gore is fantastic, and the story is fun, but the acting duo of Michael McKiddy (Mike Kellerman) and Ross Kidder (Brent Guthrie) is absolutely the best thing about it. When Mike Kellerman wakes up three years after being shot in the head, the first thing he wants to do is find his fiancée, but being a zombie makes that a little difficult. Thankfully he’s not the only zombie that still has his faculties about him. Brent Guthrie died during an autoerotic asphyxiation mishap, something that doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest, and he agrees to tag along on Mike’s quest if for no other reason than the fun of it. Brent is beyond excited to be a member of the living dead and loves the freedom it gives him, and Kidder manages to add his own excitement to the character while keeping him grounded enough that he doesn’t go over the top.
Bart Gregory (The Revenant)
American soldier Bart Gregory (David Anders who would go onto another zombie project, television’s iZombie) died in Iraq, but he’s having a hard time believing that. After arriving home in a coffin, a reanimated Bart discovered he’d somehow become a revenant, a kind of half vampire/half zombie hybrid that can’t be killed. Since he must sustain himself with blood, Bart takes to killing violent criminals and becomes a mythological hero in the process. The Revenant takes a minute to pick up speed, but once it does it never lets up, and the second half is near nonstop action, and Ander’s Bart revels in the chaos. While most stories feature a tale of redemption, The Revenant is all about the fall.
Michael Jackson (Thriller)
Because you can’t do a list of favorite zombies and not have Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Let’s see how many times I listen to it before attaching the video. Edit: It was three times, and the song proper starts about four and a half minutes in.
That’s it for Part One. Tune in next week for the second half of my twenty favorite zombies.
The Undead Review