The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Rating ‘Zombie’ Movies Without Regard to Zombies

Google pointed me to this interview in the Fall River, MA Herald News with author and zombie film critic (as opposed to Zombie film critic, a Zombie who reviews movies) Tony Schaab:

What do a devout family man, Humane Society volunteer, DJ, actor, comedian, troupe manager of the comedy improvisational troupe IndyProv, college enrollment coordinator, movie critic and zombie aficionado have in common?

They’re all author Tony Schaab, of course.

The interview eventually gets around to giving some detail on the G.O.R.E. score system he uses to appraise zombie movies:

Q. The G.O.R.E. Score is actually an exceptional system you created for reviewing books and movies. What’s the impetus behind it?

A. When I decided to write reviews, I wanted to avoid being just another guy throwing his opinions around. So I thought to myself, “Self, why not create an objective system to rate the reviewed items in categories fans would actually want to know about?” Through good karma and a bit of luck, the areas of focus resolved themselves into a nice little acronym, G.O.R.E.: “G”eneral entertainment, “O”riginal content, “R”ealism, and “E”ffects and editing. I still have some of my own subjective rhetoric mixed into each review, of course, but on the whole I think the rating system really helps my reviews stand apart as a great source of insight and information.

The acronym alone should raise alarm bells, but reading that description, it’s fairly obvious what’s missing from this system to review zombie movies:

Any concern whatsoever for the Zombies themselves.

Worried, I went to Mr. Schaab’s website to see for myself whether it was true, and the application of this heartless, clockwork system for appraising zombie movies as ‘entertainment’ truly gave no weight to the feelings and depictions of the Differently Animated (as opposed to our own, Zombie-Conscious evaluation scheme).

Tragically, it does not.

In order to confirm my suspicions, I decided to find a couple of reviews on the site and compare them to my own thoughts and impressions on films/books/other media that I have seen for the ZRC. Unfortunately, this proved somewhat more difficult than I had originally thought, because many of the reviews are present online only as synopses, with the full versions to be found only in the print edition. I can understand this motivation; Mr. Schaab is trying to make a living off of his reviews, after all, whereas the ZRC presents all its work to the public free of charge and under a Creative Commons license, because we’re an advocacy group. It’s a necessarily different focus.

That being said, it makes it harder to do a direct comparison.

Fortunately, I was able to find at least one full review online of something I’d seen that had made a deep enough impression: Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Urgh. Think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

What did Mr. Schaab have to say about that…. movie?

G: General Entertainment – As mentioned above, each of the four big-budget “Resident Evil” films have been a rockin’ good time, as long as you’re willing to shut off certain “rational” parts of your brain. “RE:A” follows this formula, the plot revolving around Jovovich’s Alice having the T-Virus in her body negated, returning her to “normal human” status, and then trying to reconnect with her friends from the previous films as they all try to survive in a world made increasingly crazier by the multiplying legions of undead.

I can certainly verify that the movie requires you to shut down the rational centers of your brain, and failure to do so is rewarded with an agonizing hour and a half waiting for either the end credits to roll or sweet Death to take you away. From my own review:

From the outset this movie is an affront to decency and logic. First, the movie fakes out the audience by, gasp, having a zombie outbreak occur in Tokyo, breaking the long-running Resident Evil formula of making the Undead somebody else’s problem, something that happens to Westerners with corrupt governments and cops on the take. However, this quickly degenerates into a silly, poorly directed, stodgy, slow, CG-filled spectacular of unconvincing explosions and improbable gunplay between the world’s worst commandos and an army of Milla Jovoviches, none of whom can manage an expression other than smirking.

I wasn’t honestly sure who the bad guys were supposed to be here. Umbrella created the T-virus, in the movies, but it was Alice who allowed it to escape the mansion by forcing her way out of a biohazard zone. She admits as much in this movie, that it’s all her fault. So here she is, in Tokyo, killing hundreds of inept security guards with her superpowers, to get revenge on them for something she did. Honestly, I haven’t seen an American kill this many innocent Japanese guys on-screen since Grave of the Fireflies.

Already you can see how we differed in our assessments; Mr. Schaab is willing to tolerate this film as a sort of stupid fun, whereas the ZRC perspective is that its incoherence and hyperviolence cannot be justified in any way by its vicious, Anti-Zombie mishmash of a ‘plot’.

By the end of our respective reviews, the separation is more or less complete. Schaab gives it a middle of the road rating:

TOTAL SCORE: 6.75/10
VERDICT: A’IGHT

The ZRC verdict?

Avoid it because you value your sanity, or want to retain your hope in humanity, or faith in a kind and loving God. Just plain avoid it, please.

This review came before our new Rating System was unveiled, so let’s just make that official: Resident Evil: Afterlife receives the lowest possible rating from The Zombie Rights Campaign, that of Living Supremacist.

Uggh sitting through a sequel to this might kill me.

What does this whole comparison mean? I think it gets to the very heart of what we do here, at the ZRC. It is simply impossible to provide meaningful critical analysis of films depicting the Differently Animated without any concern for the Undead as individuals, as people. If your heart has grown so callous that you cannot empathize, even sympathize with Zombies, then how can you be expected to see them as anything but victims for your entertainment, and how can society hope to advance? Indeed, grotesquerie appears as comedy to such a person, and unforgivable and insane hatred seems amusing.

It’s a tragedy, but one we see all too often. Thus the ZRC seeks to provide you with an alternative, to help you keep your grip on Zombie Friendly behaviors and seek out entertainment that, at a minimum, doesn’t do harm to others simply because they lack a pulse or an elevated core body temperature. We see movies, watch shows, listen to music, attend conventions and concerts, all on your behalf, and agitate for change.

We do it in the hope that one day, perhaps everyone will take these considerations to heart, and we won’t see a movie as odious as RE: Afterlife reviewed without a thought being given to its many Zombie victims.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.

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