Twelve Things about Zombieland
(A post for "Women in Horror" Month humbly submitted to the manly man blog From Midnight with Love--because this Midnight Warrior knows whom she'd want to call "General" when the War against Zombies begins)
12. I was going to start with: "If you like Scream, you'll like Zombieland . . ."
But now I think it's more accurate to say: "If you love Randy Meeks, you'll love 'Columbus'!"
11. We've feared zombies for as long as we've feared the dead, but the zombies of the digital age are extra special. They usually kick off a nasty apocalypse that sends us back to living in small, tightly-knit communities where we must rely on our neighbours to survive: which is both a nightmare and a secret dream to people who make a lot of "close" friends through the escapist Internet.
They are especially horrifying to an introvert like our narrator "Columbus," who used to spend most of his time trying to avoid people. But now that he is forced to try to avoid zombies, he finds he really misses his fellow humans.
10. You might have noticed our hero's "geographical" name. Well, why shouldn't the last survivors in "Zombieland" have land names? (They're worlds better than zombie names, you know!) Columbus first meets Tallahassee, his complete opposite, and then the two scheming sisters Wichita and Little Rock. There's a flashback to a pre-apocalypse scene with his neighbour, but he only knows her--and addresses her--by her apartment number: 406.
9. Well, okay, one character gets to keep his name: Bill Murray cameos as himself and he is so made of awesome sauce that I'm not worthy to say another word about him.
8. And now to make this review relevant to "Women in Horror" Month! Let's start with something totally excellent.
My favourite female has got to be 406, who turns the Final Girl formula on its head. She falls asleep normal, if unknowingly contaminated, and wakes up ravenous for human flesh . . .
The video's quality is crappy,
but the scene is still all that and more.
The way she goes after Columbus had me screaming my lungs out like anything--even as I inwardly marveled at the clever, completely effective reversal of the traditional Horror roles of Chaser and Chased.
7. I'm going to be neutral about the admittedly badass Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker.
You see what I mean, I hope? ;-)
6. So 406 is the high point and Sister Cynthia could go either way. What about the two most important "women" in the film?
Now, I wanted to like Wichita and Little Rock, who could have totally helped out my recurring refrain that girls do not get in the way of adventures, but enhance them. But now I'm just pissed and looking for a way to blame them on Bella Swan. Every frame these two self-entitled princesses were in reminded me of a good friend's favourite truth-about-women quote: "Without men, civilisation would last until the next oil change." (P.J. O'Rourke)
Yes, they're tough, smart, loyal to each other, and willing to do everything necessary to survive. They also owe every practical advantage they have to some hardworking man they had to manipulate it from, and remain incredibly dependent on the two male leads for the rest of the movie.
5. It just gets better, too--or if you prefer, worse. After the girls dump their protectors for the third time, they head straight for a theme park and power it up in the middle of the night--lights, calliope music and all--knowing fully well that zombies are attracted to bright lights and noise. Never mind the knowledge that they're living in the middle of a freaking zombie wasteland. Did they not think there would be consequences?
When Tallahassee sees the theme park overrun by hundreds of zombies, he remarks lightly, "I think they might actually require our assistance this time." It's the understatement of all civilisation.
4. You can bet that the filmmakers milk that amusement park setting for all it's worth. The ride or attraction each character chooses reveals a lot about him . . . or her. Tallahassee, their best zombie killer, gets in some creative kills on every ride he tries, before he ends up in a shooting booth in which the best prize is survival. The extremely cautious Columbus, whose phobia-inspired list has proven as good as his companion's guns and bravado, learns the difference between real dangers and fake ones in the haunted house. And our two girls make a desperate bid for safety on a tower ride that sends them several stories into the air--where they shoot the control box so that it can't bring them back down, promptly run out of ammo, and have to wait like true damsels in distress for the men to rescue them . . . again.
In case you're keeping count: Tallahassee and Columbus do save their pretty asses; it was Tallahassee who gave Little Rock the shooting lesson that let her take out the control box; and the engineers who made Pacific Playland possible were likely all men.
(Okay I threw that last one in just to get a reaction.)
3. The one thing I absolutely hated about this movie was the vandalism. There must be a more creative way--heck, a more human way--to express all the emotions that arise from an apocalypse than smashing a beautifully decorated souvenir store just to let off some steam.
Zombies may be rotten to the core, but even they don't vandalise anything and laugh. A point to ponder.
2. Besides, in Zombieland, every survivor has the status of a castaway who gets another chance to go back to the wreck for supplies. You don't see any wanton wreck wasting in Robinson Crusoe or The Swiss Family Robinson--not because their characters lack edge, but because their characters have common sense. In a world where supplies don't last, you should know enough to take care of what's available to you . . . and to any other survivors who might come across them after you're done taking what you need.
But I think the head vandal Tallahassee learns his lesson at the end, when one of his bad shots inadvertently blows up the one thing he has been craving since we first meet him.
1. It is that sweet treat and its absurd elusiveness in a land that is closer to hell without it which inspires me to close this post with a question:
Image Source: Zombieland poster