Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Rise of the Dead

The last few years have been great for (un)dead people. Vampires have taken over the screens, even werewolves, the ridiculous people that in their greatest moments turn into mangy canines, have had their fair share of screen time and now it's the turn of zombies to have their days. Not that zombies were not done to death, so to speak, the same idea reinvented and rehashed, but basically unchanged. It was only fair that zombies become "mainstream" by appearing in a TV series: The Walking Dead. And they were not even the modern, raging running rabid type of zombie, but the slow and mindless, yet highly infectious kind. But hey, it's about supernatural monsters, a step away from sci-fi, so it is cool, even if it reiterates the same tired story of people that love drama too much and can't help fight each other and getting in the way of the undead when their emotions run high (which must invariably do so, else the characters would he boringly successful in avoiding any danger).

You might think that I am criticising the new zombie uprising because I am the kind of movie critic asshole that thinks everything sucks unless done my way, but it is not so. I have solid evidence that the undead genre can be awesomely innovative and deep in meaning. I give you three examples, all of them European, not because I am some sort of continentalist, but because the American stuff just sucks ass! I've decided to pointedly single out these three TV series and discuss them outside my "TV series I've Been Watching" section, because they prove without a shred of a doubt that TV can be for smart people, they are just not that many of them and it's not feasible economically.

Here it goes:
  • The Fades - this British series had dead people that could not go to Heaven turn on the living and becoming zombies, only smart, feeling ones, that just consider death is treating them badly and are lashing out. A brilliant take on the whole undead concept that went unexplored because the series got cancelled after a season. By far the best supernatural TV series of the decade, though!
  • In the Flesh - new British show that features actual zombies, the kind that eat on people. Unlike their American counterparts, they place the action of the film after the rise, when the undead are being "treated" and returned to their families. PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) sufferers have to deal with the reactions of small town people used to shooting undead on sight and being proud of it. Typical British thing to take a zombie idea and turn it into a deep exploration of social issues.
  • Les Revenants - last, but certainly not least, a French series about people coming back from the dead. They just come back, not remembering how they died and not knowing they did. People have different reactions to them and many have noticed the "Twin Peaks" feel of the series. Dark and psychologically violent, as only the French can make them, this is as far from La Horde as In the Flesh is from The Walking Dead. There was also a movie on which this series is based, which in English was translated as "They Came Back".

I highly recommend you watching these series. I don't care what the audiences were. In my view low audience to a movie or TV show can mean only two things: it was really bad, or it was really smart. I believe these three examples fall into the smart category.