A Top Ten Undernourished and Underloved Zombie Characters (in no order) are all getting some love this Halloween. Who's first out of the grave...?
1. Colin in Colin (2008)
Colin: the most exotically-named zombie character ever
Poor old Colin. He should rank alongside Day of the Dead’s Bub as one of the most sympathetic cinematic zombies ever. Apparently it only cost director Marc Price £45 to bring Colin to the screen; not a penny was wasted on achieving pleasingly affecting acting from the man himself, Alastair Kirton. If, like me, you wonder just what went on in the pre-zombified lives of the unnamed undead – folk like, say, Second Zombie on the Left or Gunshot-Wound to the Head Zombie or Uncle Zombie Who Can Recall His Past Lives, those who dwell at the foot of the end credits – then watching Colin may come as a refreshing treat. It's about one of those very bit players. And very bit he was. The film takes a superfluous character and gives him a movie of his own to walk amok. Although Colin's the shy and retiring type, just looking to escape mad, apocalyptic London and reconnect with his girlfriend. He's a zombie with heart. The heart may have been in his hands, but he had love to give all the same. The guy deserved a break: even he ran from the undead hordes. So, Colin, mate, here’s to you: First Zombie on This List.
2. Dr Freudstein in The House by the Cemetery (1981)
Dr Freudstein waving for the camera. Bless him.
With a name like that I'll bet you had an insurmountable array of problems in your life as you did in your afterlife, eh, Dr. Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava)? Kept in the basement by the cemetery by director by the cemetery Lucio Fulci for the entirety of The House by the Cemetery, you didn't half moan about your lot. But then, you did look like a brown paper bag glued to an over-sized peanut. But piss and moan you did. Not before getting your hand lopped off and being outfoxed on a ladder by a girlish-sounding 10-year-old misery moppet by the name of... Bob. Still, you had Mrs. Freudstein to keep you company all those decades spent beyond one of Fulci's Seven Gates of Hell. (Why not click here for more Fulci-on-Zombie action.)
3. Tarman in The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Gay zombies, musical zombies, and celebrity zombies after the jump...
4. Davina McCall in Dead Set (2008)
Davina, you're live on Channel 4, please don't... rip the housemates' faces off
I’m not entirely sure how famous Davina McCall is elsewhere in the world, but she’s pretty darn famous in the UK. So when Charlie Brooker (I’m not entirely sure how famous...) decided to marry TV’s Big Brother with Dawn of the Dead, and keep it true to both, he of course had to cast Ms. McCall: the face, voice and hair of Big Bro. Davina was game for gameshow gore – she jumped right into it, ghoulish make-up and all. Those that have seen the three-part TV zombie series Dead Set will know that it was no light entertainment reality telly. It was wall-to-wall housemate carnage: a settee satire with garden-based grue. Never has Davina’s catchphrase “You have been evicted – I’m coming to get you!” been so apt.
5. & 6."Jay Leno" & "Burt Reynolds" in Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Jay and Silent Burt stare back
Because when this exploding-head double act cropped up in the crosshairs in Zack Snyder’s yes-it-is-still-pretty-good remake of Dawn of the Dead, it was a hoot. They're on the list purely for reasons politically incorrect, more than a little bit wrong, but funny as all hell. The inclusion of Zombie Jay and Zombie Burt was surely Snyder's hearty nod to the fashions and facial hair of the Romero’s original sequel's setting as well as a sly comment on our celebrity-obsessed society: we see celebs everywhere! So let's shoot them! Ah, pity the poor, anonymous rambling shoppers simply going about their own undead business who just happened to resemble popular icons. Shoot ‘em in the head! They did.
7. Otto in Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008)
And just like buses, you wait for one gay zombie movie directed by Bruce LaBruce to come along and two arrive at once: his controversial L.A. Zombie, which is about – and I’m hazarding a wild guess here – a zombie in L.A., is due soon. Rejoice. Then rebel.
8. Mary in Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Mary (Nicola Cunningham), we spied you briefly on the supermarket checkout at the start of Shaun of the Dead (2004). But we’d of course forgotten about you by the time you came stumbling into Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s garden. Sneaky Mary. Poor Mary. Proud Mary keep on gurning. We know you weren’t “sooo drunk”. You were simply a pulse-denier like the rest of Greater London. Not that we could tell any difference between you on the checkout counter and you at the point where you got speared through your midriff on the base fixture of a rotary washing line. Oh, Mary. You had such a good photo face as well. And Mary? You’ve got red on you.
9. Michael Jackson in Thriller (1983)
10. Anyone and Everyone Who’s Ever Had a Small Role as a Zombie in a George A. Romero Film.
Because the night... belongs to zombies
You lot are the luckiest moulding death sacks on legs to have ever groaned and moaned your way through a movie. If you’ve ever been a Romero zombie – big or small, young or old, freshly dispatched or long in the grave – you know what it really feels like to be a true movie zombie. From the old gormless guy (S. William Hinzman) stomping the graveyard and coming to get Barbara in Night of the Living Dead (1968), to the horseback zombie lady (Kathleen Munroe) endlessly galloping the island in Survival of the Dead (2009), every human being gracelessly converted into a braindead walker gets the last, but never the least, place in this ten. For any extras or out-of-work actors getting their parts bit in a Rom-zom bit-part, corpsing for George is the highest zombie-honour of all. Every one of you have my praise. And my eternal envy: I’d give my right arm for a split-second walk-on in a Romero zombie flick, even if you'd prefer my brains.