I Love Sarah Jane (and the Zombie Genre in General)

Sheesh. There sure are a lot of cynical snarkmuffins out there, rolling their eyes, quick to dismiss an entire genre out of hand: “Oh, that whole zombie thing? So over, man. Played out. Vampires are the new cosmonauts are the new ninjas are the new unicorns are the new zombies are the new pirates. NEXT FAD, PLZ. KTHXBYE.” Jaded much? Bite me, guys. You shall pry my love of the living dead from my cold, dead, grabby hands.

Decades before movies like 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake reanimated the genre, before the rise of zombie flash mobs, or the obvious necrotization of Joaquin Phoenix, an immense zombie canon had long been informing, inspiring, and most definitely infecting swarms of Fulci and Romero obsessed nerds the world over.  And just because the culture at large has had their fifteen-minute-fill of brain-eaters doesn’t mean we have!

A still from I Love Sarah Jane.

In my opinion, the visceral metaphors are as culturally relevant now as they were back in 1968, when “they’re coming to get you, Barbara” first became a household phrase. It’s deeply sad that due to short attention spans and media over-saturation, a lot of potentially fascinating zombie-related films have never gotten off the ground. For instance, the scrappy, long-struggling DIY project, Worst Case Scenario. (Check out these stunning trailers, sporting undead nazi balloonists and an original score from J.G. Thirlwell!) The producers of “the greatest zombie movies never made” finally conceded defeat in May 2009.

Why write something off just because it’s a certain genre? “Oh, I’ve seen it all before.” What if you haven’t? Hell, what if I haven’t, and I don’t want you cockblocking me?! Besides, if the tale being told is engaging, who cares what overused pigeonhole it goes in? At the heart of good storytelling, whatever the medium, is a solid narrative and compelling cast of characters. Case in point, the following short indie film from Australia, I Love Sarah Jane.* It’s a riveting coming-of-age vignette with a richly implied back story that just happens to take place the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The wonderful cinematography, AD, editing, and truly disgusting gore effects are all gravy:

I Love Sarah Jane. A short film from Australia, written by Spencer Susser & David Michôd. Directed by Spencer Susser.

While it stands well on it own merit, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the story of Jimbo and Sarah Jane expanded. Or those of Max Brooks’ World War Z characters. Shit, just give us a proper a theater re-release of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, and we’ll call it a day!

*Thanks to Ed Brubaker for the heads up. Speaking of great storytelling, Ed’s pulp thriller webseries, Angel of Death, is now available on DVD. Go get some. Y’know, unless you’ve had your fill of Zoe Bell kicking ass and cracking wise. In which case, you must be brain dead.

9 Responses to “I Love Sarah Jane (and the Zombie Genre in General)”

  1. Infamous Amos Says:

    Saying you don’t like zombie movies to me is like saying you don’t like comedies. “I’m sick of movies with ‘jokes’ and ‘humour’ and all that horseshit. Funny is so 2006.”

    I’d seen those Worst Case Scenario trailers before, but I never picked up on the fact that JG Thirwell did the music. That just makes them so much cooler, and the fact that the movie will never come to be so much sadder.

    If you get a chance, find the audio book for World War Z. Henry Rollins does the voice of the security guard in the reality show full of jackass celebrity survivors.

  2. Jon Munger Says:

    I am one of those people who have loved the undead (no, not carnally, and how the hell would you know about that anyway?) since I was knee high to a sexy, sexy zombie.

    I’d like to make special dispensation towards Day of the Dead, a much beloved piece of Romera. The immediate impact of Dr. Tongue, one of Tom Savini’s better puppets sets the stage for the depiction of the absolute breakdown of humanity. This is man, and zombie (sexy, sexy zombie) in his final torn off extremity.

    I leave the cynics to their sighs and disinterest– It takes passion to make something as good as I Love Sarah Jane.

  3. Mer Says:

    “I leave the cynics to their sighs and disinterest ”
    Amen, friend. That needs to be a song lyric.

    I-Amos, I LOVE that WWZ audiobook! So well done. Actually, can I just say? I recently had a hopeless, high-pitched geek attack at ComicCon last week when I realized that Coilhouse and Max Brooks were signing at the Avatar booth at the same time. Not surprisingly, he is a charming and hilarious man in person.

  4. Erika Says:

    Nicely put, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Speaking of zombie flicks, I would love to see one with a soundtrack by Riz Ortolani. I can’t get enough of his music in Cannibal Holocaust.

  5. whittles Says:

    Mere, did I ever tell you about the zombie dance troupe i’m a part of?


    I wish you’d had a chance to see us before you left for kiwi country. I think you would’ve liked.

  6. Ed Autumn Says:

    All things zombie related must never die! (I’m quite eager for the upcoming Zombieland, btw!!) Thanks for this post as well Mer, that video was very cool! Too bad you missed my zombie costume at Con, but it was great to see you all and have you sign my mag! (My CH t-shirt would’ve probably looked great splattered with blood… ;p)

  7. db Says:

    I wrote a quick reply to this:
    There may be a glut of halfassed zombie movies now, which is a shame, but the genre itself is endless and immortal, The very idea of the living dead is too fundamental an idea to be oversaturated!

  8. Mer Says:

    Nice post, DB! It goes without saying that there have been a lot of lazy, sucky zombie movies in the past decade, but yeah… there could never be so many that I’d stop hoping for a really good one to come along and remind me of why I love the genre so much. I guess I could say the same for film in general.

    Whittles, I am sad I never got to see Living Dead Girlz live… although I did briefly meet a couple of your fellow dancers back in 2007 at SDCC, while getting drunk with Warren Ellis. (His brains attract hot zombie chicks in droves.)

    Cheers, Ed!

  9. choklit Says:

    My man Stache is reading the mashup novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies right now, which has prompted some very deep debates between us…

    Can zombies ever really be more than a simple plot device for creating gory mayhem? They are not terribly dynamic characters, since EATING BRAINZZZZ is usually their only motivation… unlike werewolves and vampires, who have some natural duplicity and nuance of character.

    The book seems to use zombies mainly for novelty, and without enough good storytelling to carry it through. It’s highly entertaining for the first few chapters, and then fizzles. Still, all worth it for this quote:

    “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”