Monday, January 25, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

By the time I had reached the end of the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I had already long ago gotten an understanding of the general feel of the novel. That feeling, of course, was the ridiculous and over-the-top, laugh-out-loud goofiness of Seth Grahame-Smith's additions to Jane Austen's novel. The addition of zombies, ninjas, and nonsensically epic battles are all so silly that enjoyment, for me, came almost solely from picking out Grahame-Smith's goofy additions. Once I closed the book, however, I couldn't help but think that any story from the “zombie” genre is just as silly.

My sister recently made it a point to watch as many zombie films as she could get her hands on, and when I went home for winter break I joined her to watch several of these movies as she rented them. Although often hidden behind a veil of serious plot, the fact remained that all of these films were kind of silly. Zombie stories do, after all, provide a platform for some of the goriest horror films of all time. Even a parody of this genre we watched was, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, excessively gory and packed with violence.

I don't believe that this ridiculousness is a secret of the genre, of course. I've heard very few responses to most zombie films' stories, but plenty to their violence and horror. I think that this excessive gore and ridiculous brutality is exactly what we, as viewers, look for in a film or story in the zombie genre. At least, that's what I expect from them. Of course, if we look deeper, we may recognize the unsettling idea of the inescapable doom of a zombie apocalypse or the horror of seeing loved ones turned undead and against one another as the real reason the zombie genre is so popular. The fact still remains, however, that the crazy over-the-top violent mess of a zombie film is always fun to watch.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was clearly intended to a comedic read. However, in the same way that Grahame-Smith made very little change to the overall writing of the original Pride and Prejudice, it also had very little to change from the basic recipe for zombie horror to become just silly.

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