Welcome back to my Halloween series of blog posts. In honor of my favorite monsters, and my , I am going to name my top video games, movies, and books with zombies in them. As a zombie connoisseur, I think I've got a pretty good handle on the best zombie titles in geekery.
1. TELLTALE'S THE WALKING DEAD
The show is starting to pick up again after the second season and part of the third just dragged on. The graphic novel is starting to lose direction, and is making me wonder what, exactly, it is going to do next (and how advisable that choice would be). But Telltale's The Walking Dead game was nothing short of a masterpiece. It was obvious that this game was going to make this list--it made all sorts of lists of great games when it came out. The Walking Dead is artfully drawn, wonderfully written, and emotionally wrenching. It's the only video game that has ever brought tears to my eyes. In an era where many games are trying to erect emotional connections, The Walking Dead does it the best. It's one of the only point-and-click games that I've ever enjoyed, and the gameplay mechanics are excellent for the type of story the game is trying to tell. Every choice you make has real consequences, and the point-and-click gameplay means that the zombies never become dull or overplayed. They're saved for moments where they are viable threats, and are always ready to pop out and show you that you're not safe in this world.
FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH BY CARRIE RYAN
This book is excellently written from the title to the last sentence. The
Hands and Teeth is Ryan's first novel, but you'd think that she's been writing for years. It's a wonderful work of prose. Her world building more than holds up to her writing style, as we follow the story of a girl names Mary. Mary is growing up in a small village after the zombie apocalypse. The entirety of the village is surrounded by a fence, and the zombies constantly press against it. The village elders have told everyone that they are the only people left in the world, but Mary glimpses a stranger from the world beyond the fence. She has always dreamed of the rest of the world--in particular, the ocean from the stories her mother used to tell her--and the stranger is the catalyst for her adventure in the zombie-ridden forest. I can't recommend this book, and its companion novels, enough. Ryan's short stories set in this world are also excellent. You can get it for $8.50 now on Kindle, so there's no excuse not to pick up The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places.
3. SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Zombies can be scary as hell, but they can also be pretty damn amusing. While Zombieland was a great and hilarious movie, my favorite zombie comedy will always be Shaun of the Dead. It did it first, and it did it best. The storytelling is excellent, the jokes rarely fall flat, and Simon Pegg is amazing throughout.And how many zombie comedies can also get you all choked up? Pretty much none of them. Shaun of the Dead works on all levels. It's not just a great zombie movie, but it's a great movie.
4. LEFT 4 DEAD
I like Left 4 Dead and its sequel for the exact opposite reason that I like Telltale's The Walking Dead. Left 4 Dead is set up with a series of campaigns that you and three of your friends can play through. The zombies constantly come at you, interspersed with special mutated zombies a la Resident Evil. It is pretty much impossible not to feel like a certifiable bad ass when mowing down zombies with a katana, automatic shotgun, or chainsaw. Left 4 Dead is my go-to multiplayer game, and I spend more time than I should replaying this game over and over. Obviously, its replay value is great--especially when you mix it up and play with different people. It's also the only game I have on multiple platforms: I own both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 on PS and Xbox 360.
(Speaking of, if you want to play together on Steam just search for Geekphoria and friend me).
5. 28 DAYS LATER
28 Days Later is my favorite scary zombie movie, even though the monsters aren't really zombies. Resident Evil 4 is one of my favorite zombie video games, too, even though it has the same problems. 28 Days Later was able to bring the scary zombie back with a vengeance for my generation. Night of the Living Dead and the other Romero movies weren't really scary anymore, due to our expectations for more realistic effects, and we were still two years from the Dawn of the Dead remake (which is the movie I think actually kicked off the zombie resurgence). 28 Days Later is perfectly paced, with some tender moments tossed in among the running-for-your-life and being-ripped-apart-by-rage-zombies. It's also one of those rare zombie movies that make you think. Sure, we're often told that zombies in horror movies stand for this or that, but it's usually something you don't see in the film itself. 28 Days Later, though, is fulfilling on all levels.
Cell by Stephen KingRaising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory (EXCELLENT, READ THIS)ZombielandZombie Honeymoon (so ridiculous that you just have to see it)Generation Dead by Daniel WatersThe Walking Dead Comic and ShowNight of the Living Dead (original and remake)Dead Girl (a little too much for some people)Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead (some of Romero's silliest entries)