THE GOLDEN AGE OF ZOMBIES
by Ace Antonio Hall, author of Confessions of Sylva Slasher
Welcome to the Golden Age of Zombies! We are now witnessing the beginning of an era which will define the genre forever. Just like the Golden Age of Hollywood, which started in 1927 with the Jazz Singer, we are seeing a prolific paradigm shift in zombie theatrical and TV releases. The Classic era of Hollywood saw its best stars with Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, James Stewart, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney, Barbara Stanwyck and Audrey Hepburn, just to name a bunch.
That era also showed a time when studios could gamble on medium budget features that had a good script which in essence rolled out a slew of arguably the best films ever made like Citizen Kane and some of the best directors to ever yell, “Action”, like Alfred Hithcock and Howard Hawks. The year 1939 provided The Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and also from that era, films like Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, King Kong, North by Northwest, Rebel Without a Cause, Rear Window, and Singin' in the Rain. Films that are in my top thirty favorites of all time!
I submit to you that with the October 31, 2010 debut of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard's The Walking Dead, we have entered an era such as that classic one of Hollywood. I call that era the Golden Age of Zombies. That brilliant Halloween evening, enthusiasts saw one of the best cinematic productions of a zombie story that featured a strong script based on source material from the comic book series. It took a few years before Hollywood took a gamble on script before gore, but in 2013 the zombie fandom was blessed with films that cemented good writing with drama and powerful storytelling when Max Brooks' adaptation of World War Z came to the big screen.
I believe those films were made with such great care and artistic integrity because of TWD. That year we also fell in love with Warm Bodies, based on Isaac Marion's delightfully horrific novel of the same name.
Now, many TV productions are releasing zombie or post-apocalyptic/deathly-like shows and series with Z Nation following after The Walking Dead's shamble. TV shows like Resurrection and Forever are in the forefront of good television featuring characters back-from-the-dead and the CW network (bless their hearts) has ordered Awakening and iZombie for the 2015-2016 seasons.
While Comic-con and Wondercon are being taken over by Rick Grimes and Michonne cosplay actors, I expect the Golden Age of Zombies to bring to the forefront more intriguing stories, characters and adventures. Shinji Mikami's Resident Evil is coming to television, and I expect nothing less than a good script and a more carefully thought-out homage paid to the greatest horror video game of all time. Even the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, got in on the undead wave with his film, Maggie.
Welcome … to the Golden Age of Zombies. Brains welcomed!
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Now for my
Top 10 Favorite Zombie Films
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968) George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) which is arguably the film which popularized zombie fiction was partly inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend. Besides, being a pure classic horror film delivering on all the promises of terror, screams and sociological undercurrent messages, Night of the Living Dead was the first horror film to feature an African-American (Duane Jones) as a principal actor. Love that. Awesome film all-around!
2. World War Z (2013) is probably the first zombie film that had me to the edge of my seat the entire film. It downright scared me, and I hadn’t been that scared since seeing the Exorcist. Really. Brad Pitt. Zombies … Best. Time. Ever.
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978) – One of the best horror films in the genre ever made. Strong acting.
4. 28 Days Later – I credit Director Danny Boyle’s British film (Nov 1, 2002-Britain – June 27, 2003- U.S.) with reinvigorating the zombie sub-genre and popularized “fast” zombies. Some don’t cite this film in the zombie genre, but they better RECOGNIZE.
5. High School of the Dead (Anime, 2011) is a wonderfully drafted zombie story told in a fun fashion, yet pays homage to the tropes any zombie enthusiast can appreciate.
6. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) by far, is the best of the film series (which, for the most part disappointed me). The fight choreography was excellent. I’d say this was the most pleasing plot of the series, as well. This was the first of the films that felt more like the video game for me, and elicited more emotion.
Sylva Slasher and I believe that Capcom’s and Director Shinji Mikami’s survival horror video game Resident Evil(March 20, 1996) is the catalyst for gaining millions of fans to set up the zombie explosion. Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4 video games have won multiple Game of the Year awards and those three games are regarded by many gamers as the best video games ever made. (Takahiro Arimitsu-plot, Kenichi Iwao-scenario, Yasuyuki Saga-story)
7. Thanks to the Robert Kirkman AMC series The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies (2013) is borne of a generation of zombie film projects that elicit welcomed nods from harsh critics for being a quality production in regards to plot, music, filming, acting, etc. Probably because I worked with Robert William “Rob” Corddry (M / Marcus, a friend of R) who played the Car Czar on the show I stood in on for Damon Wayans, Jr., ABC’s comedy Happy Endings, but the film based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name holds a special place in my heart.
8. Dead Snow (2009) Nazi zombies. ‘Nuff said.
9. Zombieland (2009) is a fun zombie movie, and worth seeing. I don’t generally like to laugh when watching my zombie flicks but this one made me go back and re-evaluate Shaun of the Dead.
10. Shaun of the Dead (2004) is a British film that shows any guy who has trouble dealing with his girlfriend and parents during a zombie apocalypse is in deep trouble.
Ace Antonio Hall is the author of the horror novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher (Montag Press, April 2013). His short stories They, Raising Mary: Frankenstein, and Bated Breath have been awarded Honorable Mention for the Writers of the Future Awards 2013, 2014 and 2016. He published his short story Dead Chick Walking in Calliope Magazine Fall 2013 #141 and The Eldáling in their Spring 2016 issue.
In 2015-2016, Hall sold his short stories to be published with Weasel Press/The Haunted Traveler, Bride of Chaos/9 Tales, Pure Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol. 4, Jitter/Prolific Press, Calliope Magazine, and Night to Dawn Magazine #29.
Hall is the former Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (2009-2011), and continues to head the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror (ScHoFan) Critique Group as Co-Director of critique groups within the society. He is also a member of the Horror Writers Association, LASFS and the International Thriller Writers.
Ace Antonio Hall has spent the past few years working as a stand-in for various TV shows and films, mostly for the actors, Damon Wayans, Jr., Alfie Enoch and Pharell Williams for Happy Endings, How To Get Away With Murder and The Voice, respectively.
Hall received a BFA from Long Island University and taught English for more than a decade. He is a native New Yorker who now resides in Los Angeles, CA.