Remember 2009? We do too! It's seems like only a month ago that we ended a decade and another year in zombie. To commemorate the year of zombie that was, we've painstakingly (and we do mean painstakingly considering how late this thing is) put together our list of the Best in Zombie 2009!
Check below to see if you agree with our picks of the best in movies, comic books, games and books!
10. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Seth Grahame-Smith did more than create a funny and terrific read, he started a whole new fiction trend with the mash-up. There have been quite a few imitations to Grahame-Smith's legacy, but few can compare to the original.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has already inspired a movie version and an original prequel novel. Grahame-Smith, meanwhile, has returned to the zombie genre only to write an installment to Marvel Zombies: Return while he wrote his follow-up, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
While we are thrilled that there's more literature crossed with zombies to come, there's is one downside: reading.
2008 was arguably the year of strippers and zombies, while 2009 was the year of zombies and radio stations. Conceivably, a movie about the undead and a radio show is likely to blend two things: horror and classic radio drama. While Dead Air came up short on both, Bruce McDonald's Pontypool scores big on radio drama, and scores with horror a little.
The success of the movie really rides on placing the horror in the imagination of the audience, which is achieved through the performances and McDonald's assured direction. Some horror fans may be disappointed in the lack of gore and massive grouping of crazed zombies, others will likely bemoan Pontypool's placement in this list, wondering why it isn't at the top.
8. Crossed and The Zombies That Ate The World (tie)
I expect to get reamed for this one by zombie comic book fans because I didn't pick The Walking Dead. I can even see the comments now: "but Crossed doesn't even have zombies!" Okay, it's true, it's another case of "infected people," and ones that aren't dead but instead have an insatiable need for violence, rape and destruction. Garth Ennis' book is about the survivors of an strange infection that causes people to turn into homicidal nightmares that hunt anyone not infected and either rape them, rip them in half, or both, an, worse yet, seem to enjoy every second of it.
The first three or so issues I found myself actually nervous to read what would happen as the mysterious and awful disease spread and the decisions the survivors were forced to make became more horrible and dehumanizing. There is also something undeniably creepy about the way artist Jacen Burrows makes "the Crossed" look. I can't put my finger on it, but there Burrows has nailed the "infected" facial expression.
So, is Crossed a zombie comic? Well, the plot of Crossed certainly reads like one: in the face of a brutal and mysterious virus, remaining survivors head to Alaska to find some kind of solace in a post-apocalyptic landscape, plus the disease seems to spread in a very zombie-like way. Say what you want, but, to me, Crossed is a zombie comic book.
I've said it before(somewhere on this site) but The Zombies that Ate the World is the best comic that you aren't reading. Funny and terrifically drawn by Guy Davis, Zombies That Ate the World also has a really interesting storyline (and zombies, for real). Set in 2064 Los Angeles, zombies have been re-assimilated into the culture. The zombies are not just mindless beings, but can talk and are angry with their social standing in the post-apocalyptic landscape.
The zombie-catching duo of Freddy and Karl often add some delightful humor, enhanced by the sometimes confusing translation from the comic's original French form. Yes, ironically, writer Jerry Frissen is an American, but the book was originally released in France, then translated back into English. This means that sometimes the jokes get lost in translation. Such as Freddy's Belgian-ness, hilarious in Europe because to France (and Holland) the Belgians are slow and stupid because France (and Holland) once inhabited Belgium, leaving the country with delicious beer and food and a need to speak 18 different languages just to get through a day. The joke will be lost in the U.S., but it's the world that Frissen created that's so rewarding.
Zombies That Ate the World is totally different, unique, and often, pretty funny, intentionally or unintentionally.
7. Plant vs. Zombies
How many zombie video games succeeded this year was to make the games simpler. This holds true for Plants vs. Zombies, as well as the game that almost took this spot, Zombie Driver.
The premise of Plants vs. Zombies is very simple. Zombies want to attack your house, and your only recourse is to grow a variety of zombie-killing plants to dispense the undead horde. See? Simple!
Uniting kids and adults alike, Plants vs. Zombies makes zombie killing fun for the whole family. Not even Resident Evil or Left 4 Dead can make that claim.
UPDATE: Now, you can even play it on your iPhone!
6. Blackest Night
Again, a comic book pick that isn't The Walking Dead. Please, don't get me wrong, I love Robert Kirkman's work, but there's no denying the success of Geoff Johns' step into the macabre with Blackest Night which created a zombified version of the Green Lantern Corps and brought back most of the dead characters in the DC Universe.
Sure, Marvel got the zombie ball rolling with Marvel Zombies, and both Marvel Zombies 4 and Marvel Zombies Return were terrific, but Blackest Night infected almost every title in the DC line, making DC the more committed comic book company. Johns also made Blackest Night a pretty accessible read for those of us who don't read many (or any) DC titles.
The only thing that frightens worse is the upcoming inevitable happy-ending conclusion of Brightest Day, which we're guessing will see the return of many dead heroes and the abolishment of the Black Lanterns for years to come.
5. [Rec] (DVD release)
[Rec] didn't come out in 2009, but it was the year that the U.S. could finally watch Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's masterpiece. Considering how long it took for [Rec] to reach American shores (yes, smartasses, it was delivered by clipper ships), it's possible that audiences watched the American remake Quarantine first, rendering them incapable of wanting to endure more motion-sickness induced from the shaky camera work.
But where Quarantine failed, [Rec] succeeds, delivering one of the more intense and scary infected-zombies ever.
4. Dead Snow and Call of Duty: World at War Nazi Zombies (Tie)
Nazi Zombies are back, bitches! Leave it to the Norway and an unlockable section of World War II shooter Call of Duty: World at War to unearth everyone's favorite undead trouble makers. There's something to a Nazi zombie: not only are they back from the dead, but they were also Nazis. It's like doubling-down on evil.
What makes Tommy Wirkola's Dead Snow stand out from the crowd is the dark humor present through out the film and the beautifully choreographed gore. Just a terrific job all around.
Meanwhile, the simplicity of "Nazi Zombies," initially an unlockable section of World at War until ravenous gamers forced it to be a regular playable section, has won over gamers and inspired several new maps included in every edition of World at War DLC. The success of "Nazi Zombies" has been so intense, in fact, that gamers wonder why any version of Call of Duty doesn't have zombies in it. We wonder the same thing. Wouldn't Modern Warfare 2 be improved by adding zombies to the street warfare? We think so too, but, unfortunately, they won't be.
3. Trick 'r Treat (DVD Release)
The best horror film in this or any year, Michael Dougherty scored with Trick 'r Treat. Sadly locked up in a vault for years, Trick 'r Treat was finally released to DVD and Blu-Ray this year. Still not the theatrical release the movie richly deserved, it's cause for celebration to know that one can own it and watch it every year on Halloween, just like Dougherty intended.
2. Left 4 Dead 2
Fans were upset at the rapid turn around Valve set for their sequel to their co-operative zombie shooter Left 4 Dead, but what Valve delivered was a superior and excellent game. Raising not only the weaponry, co-operative gameplay aspects and sheer number of zombies, Valve also created more rich campaigns, linked together in a cinematic-like story that the campaign posters and trailers would suggest. Rather than have two semi-identical levels like Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 gets imaginative, adding rain and nightfall, the crossing of an abandoned bridge, a swamp, and a finale at a rock concert.
Valve outdid themselves so well, in fact, that they will have no choice but to take their time coming up with new creatures and campaigns for the inevitable Left 4 Dead 3.
Zombieland pulled off a real coup for the zombie world - it was funny, it had a great use of running zombies, and it was really successful at the box office. Woody Harrelson was terrific as the zombie-slaying machine Tallahassee and Bill Murray's cameo was one of the best in cinematic history. Not bad from a first time director — Ruben Fleischer — who isn't a huge horror movie fan.
A 3-D sequel is in the works and could arrive in 2012.