Culture

Got Brains? Zombie Movies While You Wait for World War Z

After years of enduring "will they or won't they" rumors about the production of Max Brooks' ultimate Zombie Apocalypse tale, World War Z, fans were treated to a satisfying update over Independence Day weekend. The first photos emerged from the "World War Z" set in Malta, featuring none other than star Brad Pitt, who plays a journalist documenting the Zombie pandemonium erupting around him.

With a year to go until "World War Z" is expected to hit theaters, here are a few other book-based zombie movies to watch and to wait for to keep your living dead cravings at bay.

The Walking Dead

Back in October 2011, one couldn't escape chatter about AMC's Zombie apocalypse series, "The Walking Dead." Based on the long-running comic series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, "The Walking Dead" centers on Sheriff Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to learn that the world has been overtaken by zombies. Grimes joins up with a small band of human survivors as they make their way across the violent terrain in hopes of finding others spared from the zombies' wrath. The series far exceeded AMC's expectations, and the pilot received 5.3 million viewers, making it the most-viewed television episode premiere in the network's history. It has since been renewed for a second season.

I Am Legend

Richard Matheson's revered 1954 apocalyptic novella, I Am Legend is told from the perspective of Robert Neville, the last man standing in a world overrun with the undead. Considered one of the pioneering books in the zombie genre, I am Legend most notably inspired George Romero's 1968 cult classic movie, "Night of the Living Dead." Among others, Stephen King cites Matheson as one of the horror writers who has been most influential in his own career, especially when it came to creating stories such as The Stand and Salem's Lot. Matheson's book was adapted four times: "The Last Man on Earth," "The Omega Man," "I Am Legend," and "I Am Omega," which are coincidentally listed in the order we would rate each movie, from best to worst. Though many have made the argument that Matheson's monsters in I Am Legend are closer to vampires than zombies, we personally think of them as a terrifying hybrid of the two.

Autumn

David Moody became an online phenomenon after offering his second book, Autumn, as a free download in 2001, and it soon became a book series. Autumn follows three characters dealing with the consequences after a virus decimates most of the population -- and turns the rest into zombies. Autumn fans were quick to applaud Moody for his focus on the human condition and state of human relationships during crisis, rather than rely entirely on the standard zombie blood and gore details. In 2009, bolstered by the organic success of the book, director Steven Rumbelow (who specialized in music video and stage play production) decided to take a chance in adapting "Autumn" into a film. Ultimately, the inexperienced director and B-list cast made for a disappointing final product.

The Serpent and the Rainbow

Researcher Wade Davis' 1985 investigative book, The Serpent and the Rainbow, tells of his journey to Haiti to determine if there was truth to two documented cases of zombies. Controversial upon its release, Davis' book was challenged by the scientific community, citing the impossibilities of his claim that zombies exist. However, the stranger-than-fiction element was too good for Wes Craven to pass up, and he adapted The Serpent and the Rainbow into a film in 1988, starring Bill Pullman. Wade Davis was displeased after his book was turned into a horror film, and probably just plain tired at that point of people thinking of him as the "guy who cried zombie."

Pride, Prejudice and Zombies

Jane Austen's classic tale of love and courtship was given a violent shove into the twenty-first century in Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Elizabeth Darcy is recast as a zombie fighter who spars with the arrogant monster-hunter Mr. Darcy upon his arrival to Meryton, the sleepy English town that has fallen victim to a plague and eventual zombie invasion. Well-received upon its publication in 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies attracted the attention of multiple movie studios, all vying for the chance to bring the new version of Austen's classic to blockbuster proportions. Early rumors swirled that David O. Russell was in the running for the director spot, though in April 2011 Craig Gillespie signed on to direct the film.

Breathers

Zombies are people too. Well, part people at least, according to S.G. Browne's 2009 novel Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, which introduced the term zom-rom-com (Zombie Romantic Comedy). Newly created zombie Andy Warner experiences some difficulties in his new life after being rejected by his family, who finds his condition distasteful. He seeks solace by attending an Undead Anonymous meeting where he meets other zombies who empathize with his condition, including one rogue zombie who introduces him to the pleasures of human flesh. With zombies giving vampires a run for their money lately, it was not much of a surprise to learn that Fox Searchlight acquired the film rights for Breathers. Despite Razzie-tastic disaster "Jennifer's Body," Diablo Cody confirmed that she will direct the Breathers adaptation, giving the undead a second chance.


What are your favorite zombie movies - book-based or other?