I’ve always been of the opinion that zombies improve just about everything. That’s easily said, of course, when you’re talking about taking something good and making it even better. But what if we put this to the test: what if we tried to take something that was crap and improve it with the judicious application of the undead? I found seven films and tried a thought experiment: could zombies improve them? Here are the results.
Please note: the object was not to turn the films into instant classics but rather to simply improve them. You might argue that adding just about anything to the following films would improve them, whether it’s zombies or cotton candy or even just painting over the screen with black paint…but duly noted and let’s move on.
7. Showgirls. Infamous for being the only film in the history of cinema that copious amounts of nudity could not save, can the undead win where boobs did not? Perhaps. When Elizabeth Berkley’s character knocks Gina Gershon’s character down the stairs…instead of Gershon being put out of commission and into the hospital, what if she died? And then came back to life in a call back to EC Comics-style revenge stories and brought gnawing death to all those who had wronged her, ending up with Berkley and then finally, Joe Eszterhas and Paul Verhoeven themselves?
5. Bicentennial Man. This long mediocre film in which a robot Robin Williams wants to become human over the course of two hundred years becomes poignant and actually moving when the world slowly goes to zombie hell around him, but his desire to become human overpowers his need for safety and protection from the undead. In the end, he does become human and is duly eaten and transformed into just another zombie.
4. Bio-Dome. The world goes to hell in a zombie apocalypse outside the dome and Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin don’t seem to realize they have shifted into a different genre. As a result, their penchant for hijinks gets the last vestiges of humanity killed. In fact, remember Miguel at the end of the original Day of the Dead? Put Pauly Shore’s character in his place and tell me that’s not improved.
3. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This one was easier than I at first suspected…the trick is to have GWAR show up, perform a Beatles cover (maybe “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”), and then unleash the zombie plague that destroys Pepperland. It would be the most you’ve ever rooted for the zombies, I assure you.
2. Psycho (1998). This pointless shot-for-shot remake becomes a lot more interested if you diverge from just parroting the original Hitchcock film and at some random point in the proceedings have the original Norman Bates show up and eat the face of Vince Vaughn.
1. The Happening. The ultimate test. The pointless, lame, ridiculous “Oh My God we’re being attacked by…nothing” film. Can it be made better with zombies? Yes. Because instead of living plants giving off spores or midichlorians or whatever the hell it was that made humanity want to kill itself, so badly did people want to escape a Shyamalan film…it’s undead plants. No, seriously. The lost rainforests reconstitute themselves and unleash the spores, so at least you get something interesting happening. Undead trees win over real trees every time. If only by a very small margin.
Again, I only set out to improve the films. Even zombies have their limits.
Do you have an idea for how to improve a film? Tell me in the comments.