If you've been watching TV lately you must have seen the trailers for the new zombie romantic comedy WARM BODIES. I guess you could call it a Zom Rom Com.
WARM BODIES is a movie based on the novel by Isaac Marion, which is described as a "zombie romance" and is often dismissed as TWILIGHT with zombies. I had never heard of it until my Monster Men podcast partner Hunter Shea reviewed it way back on our third episode, a show dedicated to all things zombie. That was over a year ago. I have included a link to the video below so you can watch the episode. I'll spoil it a bit by telling you that Hunter loved the book. He also added that it essentially moved his wife to tears. Naturally, I was curious and anxious to read it myself.
Shortly thereafter, I read the book. It's definitely a different take on the zombie genre. The story revolves around a zombie known only as "R". He cant remember his entire name. Give him a break, after all he is dead. One day, during an attack on some teenagers, R eats the brain of a guy named Perry and begins to experience emotions for Perry's girlfriend, Julie. R ends up protecting Julie from the rest of his zombie cohorts and takes her back to his home at the airport. Slowly but surely, R continues to regain his humanity and a relationship blossoms between these two unlikely people. What follows is a story of forbidden love between a couple from different worlds, the living and the dead. And these two worlds to do not mix.
If this all sounds a bit familiar, it's because WARM BODIES is not so much TWILIGHT with zombies, but rather ROMEO and JULIET with zombies. Just look at the two main character's names; R and Julie.
(I know, I know... TWILIGHT is basically a take on ROMEO and JULIET with vampires. But WARM BODIES is much closer to Shakespeare's actual story.)
I have to admit, I was not as big a fan of the book as my podcast partner was, and to his credit, he is a published horror author and I am not. So he may know literature better than me. However, while I did not "love" the book, I did think it was a pretty good read and an interesting new direction to take the zombie genre. I mean really, how many more DAWN OF THE DEAD ripoffs do we need? If you are looking for something different in a zombie book, it's definitely worth a look.
Not long after I read the book I learned that a movie was in the works. I have to say, at first I did not think it was a good idea. A film version of this book seemed like an inevitable "TWILIGHT with zombies" if there ever was going to be one. Also, the idea of a zombie/human romance might work in a novel, but not everything translates from book to screen that well.
Then, after many months, a trailer finally came out. The first thing that struck me was that
Rob Corddry, from THE DAILY SHOW, OLD SCHOOL and HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, was cast as R's best friend, M. That was unexpected and a good sign. I am a big fan, but he's a funny guy and not one you'd think of for a romantic horror movie. My interest was officially peaked. Then I watched the trailer and I realized that the film was taking a more comedic approach to the material. I have to say, that's pretty smart, or as R might say, "That's using your braaaaaiiiins."
I don't think a serious approach to this adaptation would have worked. Particularly the "Bonies", who are the skeletal elders of the zombie hoards. Also, I just don't know if the general public would buy a zombie/human romance with a straight face. Edward in TWILIGHT may be a vampire, but he's handsome, charming, can talk and does not stink of death. I mean, does the typical movie going female really want to be intimate with a rotting corpse or James Dean with fangs? And does the typical movie going male want to see zombies being all lovey-dovey or does he want to see them eating the flesh of the living? But turn it into a comedy and you suddenly have a lot more leeway... and you'll attract a much larger audience. Girls get their romance (without the hardcore horror) and guys get to see a funny movie, with zombies, that counts as a chick flick for date night. It's a win/win.
This has made me more optimistic about seeing WARM BODIES on the silver screen. Hopefully it works, provides a lot of laughs and maybe even captures some of the spirit and heart of the book. Perhaps it could even join SHAUN OF THE DEAD, ZOMBIELAND and FIDO among the all-time great Zom Coms. I don't know if it will be that good, as the bar is set pretty high, but I am always rooting for a zombie movie to succeed. It's good for the genre and the future of movies of this kind in general.
Plus, I love the fact we, the Monster Men, told you about this book long before it was on the radar. Not to say "We told you so.", but... we kinda did.
Click here to see the Monster Men podcast episode with Warm Bodies book review.
The Monster Men video podcast: A lighthearted conversation about dark topics. We cover horror movies, books, ghost stories, sci-fi
and other spooky subjects with a sense of humor and a sense of the macabre.
Co-hosted with horror author Hunter Shea.
The Warm Bodies Trailer: (In theaters 2/1/13.)