PvZ Garden Warfare header

Game On! with Xerxes – PvZ: Garden Warfare

In this, my first game overview, I will be writing about Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. A game I fell in love with as soon as I played, and therefore want to share it with all those who might be interested. I own the Xbox One version so I talk about some features that are no included in the Xbox 360 version. On April 28th, it was announced that the PC released date would be June 24th.

Since I purchased PVZ: Garden Warfare on launch day, I have played it for over 48 hours, as recorded by the game. In that time I have encountered much, from the range of customization to the variety of characters. I have watched the game and the players evolve.

First things first, there are eight characters to play, four plants and four zombies, each of which has five variants, with a single variant for a random character being unlocked by a sticker pack you get when you first start playing. Each character has three abilities, which all recently received unlockable alternate forms.


The plant team consists of the Pea Shooter, a run and gun unit with pea projectiles that cause a critical hit for direct impact, splash damage when not direct, and require a bit of leading your moving targets for the speed of the peas. His abilities are the Chili Bean Bomb, similar to a grenade, some AI zombies are attracted to it; Pea Gatling, planting in place for rapid fire peas with finite ammo; and Hyper, where you can run fast and jump high.

Next up is the Sunflower, the healing class and also the weakest character with a rapid-fire easy to aim sun shot weapon. Her abilities are the Heal Beam, for healing plants and players alike; Sunbeam, a planted beam attack that hits hard if you keep it on target, but has limited ammo; and Heal Flower, a temporary potted plant that heals in a limited area.

Next is my favorite character, the Chomper, a melee class who chomps away at everything in his way, be it fences or zombies. If he can get behind an enemy, he can swallow an enemy whole in a short animation, preventing revival, with the exceptions being enemies who have something for the Chomper to eat instead, like a screen door or jackhammer. The downside of swallowing is that while chewing the Chomper is briefly slowed and can’t use abilities or attack. His abilities are Goop, a projectile substance that slows down and damages enemies over time; Burrow, dive underground and travel at increased speed for a short time to come up under unsuspecting enemies, devouring them whole; and Spikeweed, a placeable plant that snares and damages enemies, dangling them upside down for a short time, allowing an easy swallow.

Last but not least is the Cactus, a sniper class with long range high damage projectiles. Her abilities are the Tall-nut Battlement, a barricade of Tall-nuts and a Wall-nut providing cover and slowing AI zombies; Garlic Drone, a low health, limited time remote control drone capable of flight, shooting spikes, and calling in corn strikes; and the Potato Mine, a deployable mine that detonates when zombies step on it.


The zombie team consists of the Foot Soldier, the main infantry unit with a fast firing rifle. His abilities include the ZPG, a rocket that can be launched after a short delay with explosive impact; the Rocket Jump, a single rocket-propelled jump allowing the Foot Soldier to get on rooftops and escape hungry Chompers; and the Zombie Stick Cloud, a throw grenade that deploys a cloud of DoT and vision obscuring smoke.

The Engineer is a utility class, with a heavy hitting splash damage weapon, and the skill to construct teleporters and turrets to help the zombies advance. His abilities are the Sonic Grenade, which stuns plants and even drives the Chomper above ground; the Zombot Drone, the zombie equivalent of the Garlic Drone, with recharging Cone strikes and limited flight time; and the Jackhammer, which the Engineer can ride into battle for increased speed and protection from a one-hit-kill Chomper Burrow, with the Chomper eating the Jackhammer instead.

The Scientist is the healing class and possesses a shotgun like weapons with high short-range damage. His abilities are the Sticky Explody Ball, a thrown sticky grenade with explodes when in proximity to a plant; Warp, a recharging ability which allows for instantaneous teleportation to a short distance in a forward direction, but not through solid objects; and the Zombie Heal Station, a temporary deployable purple sprinkler that heals zombies.

The All-Star Zombie is the tank class, and also the highest health character, with an unlimited ammo weapon that works on an overheating mechanic. Used long range for suppression and up close for capturing objectives. His abilities are the Imp Punt, an Imp that is kicked a short distance and then explodes after a short time; the Sprint Tackle, a forward dash that damages any plant in its path; and the Dummy Shield, a deployable shield in the shape of a football dummy.

On the Xbox One, there is another playable class, called Boss Mode, with a player being able to take control of Crazy Dave’s RV or the Zomboss Zeppelin, and collect sun or brains respectively which appear on the screen and then spend them on four abilities. First, is the spotting ability which drops a radar dish into the game and reveals enemies, summons, and traps in the area around the radar dish. The second ability is healing, which drops a double powered heal flower or heal station for use by teammates on the ground. The third ability is a cherry bomb or cone strike which can be targeted at the ground, but will land on the highest structure, so indoor enemies are safe. The last ability is resurrection, which drops a rainbow or zombie gas sprinkler which revives one teammate, but only if in close proximity to the drop location.

All items dropped, other than the airstrikes, can be destroyed by enemy units on the ground for a coin bonus. While a player is in Boss Mode, a representative RV or Zeppelin fly in circles around the battlefield and can be destroyed by the opposing team for a 250 coin team wide bonus. Boss Mode is available as an option on the character select screen, but can only be used by one player at a time. For those with tablets, Boss Mode is also available on the Xbox One SmartGlass app, and can be a great way for another local person to participate in your game, earning you extra coins and helping out the team. When accessed through the character select screen, each of the abilities also grant a small view of the on-the-ground gameplay from a bird’s-eye-view.

The game consist of three main game styles, all of which are multiplayer. First there is Garden Ops, a garden defense game type played solo or cooperatively with up to three other players, with the goal of the game being to choose a location for a garden and then defend it against 10 increasingly challenging waves of zombies, with two boss waves at five and ten, followed by an evacuation round where you must get to a point on the map and wait for extraction. You can use pots located in strategic locations to plant defensive plants ranging from a simple Pea Shooter to a melee Bonk Choy.

The second style is several competitive game types including Welcome Mat, intended to be beginner friendly though often filled with veteran players looking for easy coins. It is essentially team deathmatch with customization and unlocked characters disallowed. The advantage for new players is that the worse you do, the more health you have when you respawn, so inexperienced players can stay competitive and orient themselves to the game. The goal is 50 vanquishes, the friendly way to say kills, but the twist is that reviving players removes points from the other team. Team Vanquish, is essentially the same, except all characters spawn with their standard health and all bells and whistles of customization are allowed. This is accompanied by Classic Team Vanquish, with standard health but customization turned off.

Gardens and Graveyards

Gardens and Graveyards in next, with zombies attacking a series of plant held gardens in an attempt to turn them into graveyards from which they can attack the next garden, eventually leading to one of three end fights. Plants can use potted plants for defense and zombies can summon a variety of lesser zombies to help with the offensive, including browncoat, bucket heads, screen door, and newspaper zombies. In addition to the typical combat coin rewards, scores are awarded based on the number of gardens held or captured for plants and zombies respectively. This is also matched by a classic version with the unlockables stripped away.

There is then a Mixed Mode with Team Vanquish and Gardens and Graveyards mixed together.

The last game style is a split screen co-op firefight/horde mode deal where you and a local partner battle endless waves of zombies. The downside is that the mandatory second player cannot earn coins or achievements.

All of these mode are built around the coin system, with certain actions rewarding coins, such as 5 for a zombie vanquish, 25 for another player or the same classes controlled by the AI know as zombie heroes, 50 for reviving and so on. Rewards increase for multi vanquishes or vanquish streaks, as well as vanquishing your nemeses, players that have vanquished you three or more times. There something to be said about finally taking down that one player that has thwarted you at every turn and then using one of the various gestures to dance a little bit when you know their screen is still focused on you.


This leads to the sticker system, involving the sticker shop and the sticker book. In the sticker shop, there are a variety of sticker packs available for purchase with the coins you have earned, 1k for a simple mixed pack of consumable stickers, potted plants, summonable zombies, self and team revives for Garden Ops, and Challenge Star Skip stickers. The more expensive packs include customization items, character part stickers, weapon upgrades, and alternate abilities. The most expensive pack for 4k coins includes five stickers, guaranteed to unlock at least one character.

The sticker book is where it all comes together, showing you what consumables plants and zombies you have, as well as the eight different characters and your sticker part progress toward each of the five variants for each character. Once a character is unlocked, it gives the stats such as play time, vanquishs, kill/death ratio, coins earned, and a whole slew more. There is even a character wide stat screen showing all 6 variants together. On top of this, each character has a load of customization options, once the stickers are unlocked by buying packs. Plants have hats, accessories (face items), and organics (arm items or neck items for the armless Chomper) and tattoos. Zombies, have hats, accessories, facial hair, and weapon skins. On top of these aesthetic customization options, there are a series of unlockable gestures for each character. You start off with a gesture for yes, no, pointing, and follow, but it’s much more fun to do a barrel roll as a Sunflower or the worm as a Chomper. If anything, it gives you something to do before a match starts when powers and sometimes movement is prevented.

The first free DLC pack, entitled Garden Variety Pack, introduced alternate abilities for each of the eight characters, each switchable in the customization menu, each having advantages and disadvantages over the original abilities.

The Pea Shooter gets the Sombrero Bean Bomb, with longer fuse, larger blast radius, and more damage; Retro Gatling, slower but packs a bugger punch; and Super Jump, with the jump being greater at loss of the speed boost.

The Sunflower’s alternate abilities are the Rainbow Heal Beam, which is rainbow coloured; Solar Flare Beam, higher damage, but less ammo; and the Dark Flower, which shoots enemies instead of healing friends.

The Chomper has alternates Thicker Goop, sticks enemies in place at the cost of the DoT; Sprint Burrow, faster travel, but shorter time to do so; and the Spiky Spikeweed, more damaging, but start with only two instead of three and can only deploy two, down from four.

The Cactus’ new abilities are the Iron Maiden, a higher health but smaller barricade; the Artichoke drone, a higher health, lower damage version, with single cob baby corn strike that charges faster; and the Potato Nugget Mine, a smaller, less damaging, but you start with and can deploy more at a time.

The Foot Soldier gets the Multi-Rocket, which is several weaker ZPGs launched in quick succession; the Rocket Leap, which opposite of the Rocket Jump, has large horizontal movement and little vertical movement; and the Super Stink Cloud, with a higher damage output but a shorter duration.

The Engineer’s alternate abilities are the Proximity Sonic Mine, several recharging stationary deployable sonic mines, with proximity detonation, but less range than the grenade; the Rocket Drone, with higher health, a Mean Beam weapons, and a single cone strike with faster charging; and the Turbo Jackhammer, with increased speed but greatly reduced duration, amounting to a shorter distance traveled overall.

The Scientist has alternates Mega Heal Bomb, a healing grenade that explodes after a short delay an heals all zombies in its splash; the Energy Warp, turns the scientist into a floating glowing purple orb that moves at normal rate, but is immune to everything but also cannot shoot; and the Armored Heal Station, a higher durability heal station that has a shorter duration once deployed.

The All-Star Zombie’s new abilities are the Long Bomb, an Imp kicked a longer distance with a greater radius and damage to the explosion at the cost of a longer recharge time; the Ultra Tackle, a shorter distance dash, but higher damage to those in the way; and the Shield Decoy, a lower health cardboard cut-out with a higher number that can be deployed.

In addition to the abilities, Pirate Zombies replaced the regular zombies on two of the Garden Ops levels, including Map Zombies instead of Newspaper Zombies, and adding Barrel Zombies, similar to Casket Zombies. These two Zombies were also added to the list of zombies summonable in Gardens and Graveyards, if you get their stickers in packs you open. The Plants also get the Doom Shroom plantable, which explodes when zombies approach, and then hides to recharge.

There is also a new map, called Chomp Town, which is usable in Garden Ops, Team Vanquish, and the new game mode, Gnome Bomb, where plants and zombies vie for control of the gnome bomb in an attempt to take it to each of the three opposing garden or graveyard bases, arm it, and then defend it until detonation. Once armed, the bomb can be disarmed and then spawns again in a random set of locations after a short time. This is the only game type yet that really has the plants on the offensive in an objective based game. On top of all that, there were also over one hundred customization items added across all characters.

The second free DLC pack, entitled Zomboss Down, adds a new variant for each of the eight characters and a new map for Gardens and Graveyards, so along with the night version brings the total count of G&G maps to eight. The map, Cactus Canyon, involves the Zombies leaving a crashed Zomboss Zeppelin and attempting to destroy a cactus army hidden in a secret base under a golf course. How? By fighting their way to the golf course and then pushing a giant Golfbomb into the hole leading to the base.

New Plantables

This time, no new zombie summons, but the plants get three, including the Ice Pea, the Fire Pea, and the Bamboo Shoot, which unsurprisingly shoots bamboo shoots, acting as a sort of short range artillery. In addition to that, this DLC also adds a slew of customization items numbering over two hundred. The twist for this DLC is that except for the new plant summons, all of the Zomboss Down content is only available from the Zomboss Down sticker pack for a price of 30K coins for nine stickers, including two character parts.

With recent alterations in the coin earning actions, support roles are now viable if you want to get coins, but you will still see the run-away coin leaders with their vanquish streaks. A number of new assists have been added for coin rewards, including having enemies defeated while gooped, stunned, or in a stink cloud. There are also new bonuses for fighting within the garden capture zone on G&G, with attacking and defending points clearly rewarding those who get their feet on the ground instead of sniping from a safer local. This also resolves an issue that occurred in G&G where Plants would earn a fraction of the Zombies score for a Zombie victory. Where there used to be sometimes upward of a 10k point difference between teams, the new points have reduced that to two or three thousand coins, or less if the zombies narrowly win.

All in all, it’s a fun shooter, with enough content to keep you busy, and so many unlockables, it would take quite a while to get enough coins to get them all. It’s well balanced and no one character or variant feels over powered. If you enjoy third person shooters and a little more colourful atmosphere than other shooters, this game may be for you.

On April 25th, the announcement was made that starting the following week, what many players suspected would happen eventually, microtransactions will be introduced to PvZ: Garden Warfare. You will be able to buy coins in the Sticker Shop. While this may give those who wish to speed up their unlocking process a way to do so, I for one will continue to earn my coins the free way. At least for now, the promise of more free DLC will keep people playing, and soon, paying.

Duke's Zombie Defense

Hey baby. It’s me, The Duke. I know it’s been a while…But you knew I’d come back to you. I’ve just been…Busy. What?! No, there’s no other websites! You’re the only site for me baby. It’s always been you and me. Come here and Duke will make you feel all better. And now that we’ve gotten that awkward bit of speech out of the way, howdy! Duke’s back with another post about zombies. That’s what Duke does, baby. That’s what Duke does. So without further preamble, here’s some words I wrote! For you!

Well folks, it’s 2012. You know what that means. End of the world and all that. And you know what? The ancient Mayans had it right. World’s endin’. And do you know HOW the world is going to end? Zombies. Yep. You heard it here first. The zombie apocalypse is coming! And Duke’s here to help you all survive. Well…Survive as long as you can. So you’d best keep reading, because your life depends on it. *cackles maniacally*

Today, we’re going to discuss zombie-proofing your home! Because you can never be TOO prepared for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. And you have less than a year to work on this, so get to it.

I know I am. Are you?

Now, as any good thief of crazy murderer (or those that do those things in video games) can tell you, most houses have some rather obvious weak points in their security. You’re not just going to grab a sledgehammer or a battering ram and smash through a wall. This isn’t Age of Empires where you can just pick an arbitrary point in the wall and make a new door. At least, that’s what I did. In home defense, there are two obvious weak points. Doors, and windows. Doors are designed to be at least somewhat defensible, but windows on the other hand, are not. Put a zombie against a door, and he’s going to have some trouble. Put a zombie against a window, and he’ll be inside soon dripping blood all over your new carpet, kitchen floor, or family pet. And if you’ve ever tried to clean a blood-stained dog, you know you’re in for an unpleasant evening. At any rate, windows are difficult to defend. The same things that make windows desirable for nice-looking houses make them bad for defending. Large windows, while providing plenty of visibility over your nice green lawn and your shiny neighbourhood, are also big glass portals into your personal space where you keep your fleshy bits and delicious brains. Especially big bay windows and shop windows. Instead of advertising clothes and televisions and who knows what else, it would be advertising you. It goes without saying, this is a bad thing.

Hey, let's take a peek out the window. Uh oh! Maybe if we don't move, they won't see us...

There are, of course ways of bulking up windows. The more costly methods involve the glass itself, shatterproof or bulletproof. Shatterproof, or laminated glass, will only work for a short time. If broken, it still remains connected via an inner layer, but even that won’t hold for too long. Think about a car windshield. If something hits it, it won’t necessarily go through right away. The spiderweb-like cracks that form are the inner layer acting up. But chances are if you’ve seen an action movie or an episode of Mythbusters, you know that given time and strength, they can be smashed through. And zombies are nothing if not patient and mechanical. They’ll be coming at that glass full strength, and they won’t stop until their arms fall off, or they’ve broken through. Unless they happen to spot someone closer to eat, then they might get distracted. Bulletproof glass will fare much better against the repeated blows of zombies. I mean, it can stop bullets, it’s going to be quite a feat to punch right through it. That’s not saying that a horde of zombies outside your house WON’T be able to eventually smash on through. So maybe don’t strip naked and dance around taunting the zombies outside, tempting though I know it is. But bulletproof glass, that can’t be cheap! So it’s not really an option unless you have a decent sum of money, or expect to get shot at any moment. If you think you’re going to get shot, it’s probably worth the investment anyway, but you may need to rethink your life.

There are other ways to block up your window, of course. Bars are always an option, if you don’t mind looking like your house looking like a jail. In fact, some places have bars on the windows already. These are generally places with higher crime rates, where it seems less out of place. If you toss bars up in your fancy three-story home in the middle of some upper-class neighbourhood, you’ll probably raise a few eyebrows. And people might call you the “bar-steins”. Or some other play on words with your last name and bar. Jon Brence would become Jon Bars (or Barce. But I mean, how often are you going to have to spell out a mocking name?), James Ashby would be James Ashbar, Charlotte Parker would be Charlotte Barker (no relation to Bob). I could go on ALL day with this, AND remain amused, but you guys would probably stop reading, so I’ll cut it out. For now. But if you’ve got any funny ones, shout them at me in the comments. Anyways, the point is, you’ll look weird if you have bars on all the windows. You’ll look LESS weird when zombies are coming down the street and just breaking into everyone else’s home while having trouble penetrating yours, but at that point it’s unlikely someone will acknowledge your foresight, because they’ll be too busy getting eaten. How rude of them!

Oh god it hurts by the way you did a great job getting ready I wish I had your foresight oh god my brains

But what’s that? You didn’t PREPARE for the zombie apocalypse? You didn’t buy bulletproof glass? You didn’t put bars up on the windows? Come on, man. It’s like you weren’t even taking me seriously when I was telling you that this was inevitable. But you still want to survive, do you? Well, in that case, you’re going to need to block the windows using other means. Boards, tables, even doors to rooms that don’t necessarily need doors (privacy for your bedroom versus zombies breakin’ through your windows and snatchin’ your brains up. Your choice, bro.) and pretty much anything else you can find to block it up. This is going to be a lot less safe than a layer of bulletproof glass lined with bars on the outside, but it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing. If the zombies don’t know you’re inside, they’re much more likely to just wander on by in search of food, ignoring your house entirely. Of course, this means that you have to be extra-quiet as well. They’re going to smash right through your last-minute barricades if you have a yelling match with the dog. I mean, come on dude, he can’t go outside and poop, there are zombies out there. Cut him some slack. And hey, if he eats the poop, problem’s mostly solved right there. Wait, what was I talking about?

So that’s got windows covered. Haha, get it?! Man I’m funny. Anyways, door are more easily boarded up than windows, so if you can cover the windows or afford to buy fancy windows that won’t break as easily, you can likely board up a door or buy an oversized door with many locks. Same with windows, doors that are going for pleasant aesthetics (namely…doors with windows!) are going to be a lot easier to smash through, for obvious reasons. Be very careful with houses with full glass doors, those sliding glass doors will just advertise your deliciousness to zombies outside. Much like large windows.

So that’s a couple of ways to beef up your current set-up. But if you plan to survive the end of the world, it may not be sufficient. You may need to relocate to somewhere more easily defensible. Apartment buildings can function very well for this purpose, as they are generally more easy to defend than a simple house. Zombies would not understand how to use an elevator, and eventually the power would go out. The stairs would have to be blocked up or destroyed, although then the question becomes how you get down for supplies. It fixes some issues, but raises a whole set of new ones. Like what to do with that irritating neighbour across the hall!

Now, if you have unlimited funds, feel free to hire me to help you develop the ultimate zombie proof environment. Think castles with death moats writhing with the undead, floating fortresses in the sea, underground bunkers with rooms just for shotguns! *sighs dreamily*

Duke's Dream House? You know it is...

So…to sum it all up, be prepared to board up your windows, and consider relocating somewhere with better defensive options. Or build a giant sea-castle with a shotgun room. And if you don’t think that zombie proof house pictured above is quite classy enough, check out some of the other pictures over here.

Do the Zombie Hop

Do you like Zombies? Do you like rockabilly? Looking for some good, fun Halloween music? Well then you’re in luck, because today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite bands. Zombina and the Skeletones.

Duke would hit that.

Duke would hit that.

I remember first hearing about them on the music section of Gaia, and instantly falling in love. Their lyrical theme is basically every B-Movie nerd’s wet dream.  From monsters to sci-fi they cover it all in fantastic fashion. Now it is one thing to just sing about that kind of stuff; but as the picture above  (and the videos I’ll post) show is that this is clearly a love project for all involved.


I was A Human Bomb for the F.B.I.

Nobody Likes You (When You’re Dead)

That was just a small sample of what they have to offer. As far as actual music videos go there aren’t that many more; but I think you get the idea of what they are about. I don’t have that much more to say about them only because, let’s face it, they aren’t a terribly deep band; but they don’t need to be, if only because the subject matter isn’t deep either. So I do hope you guys check them out, because they deserve as much exposure as they can get. (Sadly they are just one of many of my favorite bands that never tour in the US.)

Noun of the Dead

Today, we’re going to be talking about zombies.

But Duke, you might be saying, we already DID that. Well, we’re doing it again. And don’t talk to your monitor, I can’t actually hear you. Unless you’re Jon, in which case speak directly into my hidden microphone. Oh wait, you don’t know where it is. Muahahaha.

At any rate, today we’re here to discuss zombie MOVIES. Very different from the last discussion, which centered around zombie video games. Halloween is almost upon us, and some of you might be in the mood to watch people tear each other apart in order to eat their sweet sweet brainmeats. Hey, I’m not one to judge. Zombie movies are awesome. But sometimes it can be hard to find a zombie movie that isn’t awful. Because there are so, so very many. But don’t worry, fellow Ogeeku buddies. I’m here to help. Today we’re going to discuss all things Romero.

This guy right here.

Zombie movies have been around for a while. The genre really got a boost when George Romero made Night of the Living Dead back in 1968. Which is a good movie, if you can get past the whole….over forty years old thing. But if you’re into black and white movies and want to see how it all got started, I definitely recommend checking it out. The plot’s pretty basic. Zombies risin’ up, people trying to survive in a house. Zombies and people don’t get along. Violence ensues.

Mind you, zombies have evolved since the days of Romero. He rather liked the idea that if you died, regardless of how you died, you would rise up again as a zombie. Which is a rather interesting take on zombies, and honestly, probably quite a bit scarier than the standard death bite scenario. Die of old age? Zombie. Cancer? Zombie. Have a heart attack in the middle of the night? Zombie. Eaten by your husband who had a heart attack in the middle of the night and came back as a zombie? Zombie. This idea doesn’t come into play much in some of his next movies, namely Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, but you can definitely see it in his later Land of the Dead.

This doesn't fit in here at all. BUT ISN'T IT AWESOME?!

So let’s talk about those movies now, shall we? Dawn of the Dead (the 1978 version, not the 2004 remake. We’ll get to that one later!) was Romero’s follow-up to Night of the Living Dead. No longer black and white, this movie follows a few survivors as they look for a safe haven, eventually settling on a shopping mall. They have to clear out the zombies, of course, but Romero’s slow, shuffling zombies are easily dealt with if you’re careful. But even once the mall is clear, they’ve got more problems to deal with than just zombies. An outside threat in the form of a gang of bikers appears, intent on looting the mall. This is a very good movie, and I highly recommend it to any of you, but keep in mind, it is another older movie, so it’s not of the quality a lot of us are used to. Still worth checking out, though. And it did spawn a fantastic remake, which is one of my absolute favourite films.

Next comes Day of the Dead. And yes, you are seeing a pattern here. This film came out in 1985, and has a much higher production value than the first two films. The zombies will look a little more like what you would expect to see, and a little less like people wearing terrible make-up. It’s a welcome change. This movie is about a group of scientists and a group of military soldiers in an underground bunker, the scientists trying to understand and/or cure whatever is happening to everybody, and the soldiers…Well, shooting zombies. They have a series of underground tunnels with zombies and a barrier keeping them from getting too far, so they have plenty of test subjects. This movie likes to focus a lot more on the human elements at play here, the survivors trying to maintain their sanity and get along with people of conflicting ideologies. It doesn’t end well, and a lot of people get killed and/or eaten. But hey, it’s a zombie movie, that’s what we want!

om nom nom brains om nom nom

This movie is also the one that introduces the idea that zombies can learn, which is an odd idea for zombies. One of the scientists is trying to train a zombie, whose name appears to be “Bub”. It’s one of the few times in zombie movies that I’ve actually liked a zombie more than some of the humans. It’s an interesting idea, and is one of the driving factors for the NEXT Romero film, which doesn’t come out until much later. But I still highly recommend this movie to anybody that’s interested in zombies. If you watch these films in order, this is where it really starts to get going and actually looks decent doing it. A good turning point for any zombie movie marathon, which incidentally, is a great way to celebrate anything. I’m just saying.

Also, if you’re a fan of the Gorillaz, you might recognize the music from a couple of scenes in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. They sampled bits from both movies to use in a couple of their tracks. Look at that, you learn something new every day.

Guess I shouldn't be surprised these guys are zombie fans.

Next in the line of Romero films comes Land of the Dead. This didn’t come out until 2005, a whopping twenty years after its predecessor. And to a lot of zombie enthusiasts, the movie fell flat. It centers around a group of survivors in an area around a large, secure, and quite luxurious building. The rich stay in the building, while the poor live in camps and smaller buildings around it, still protected by the walls of electric fences, and…you know, normal walls. It’s also bordered by a river on one side, and zombies cannot swim. Romero likes to make statements in his movies, whether it’s racism, or military oppression, or class warfare. It is in no way subtle. But it can be pretty entertaining. This film centers around a small group of people tasked with the job of raiding surrounding areas and bringing back supplies, be it food, booze, or fancy cigars for rich jerks. The plot is pretty much laid out already. The rich guys are jerks, some of the poor guys get angry about it, things start to go bad. Lots of people die.

One of the main things about this movie is that the zombies seem capable of learning. We saw it with Bub in the last one, but now they’re doing it on their own. It’s taking longer, but once one zombie becomes somewhat self-aware, others follow suit. The zombies march to the remnants of civilization, intent on eating them, and learn how to use crude tools along the way. At one point a zombie picks up an assault rifle. He’s not a great shot, but damn that’s a scary idea.

Careful, don't aim for the head, unless you're in the mood for scrambled brains.

This movie wasn’t received very well, though. With a weak plot and cliché characters, a lot of fans were turned off by it. I myself didn’t enjoy it much the first time I sat down and watched it, although it grew on me later on. Romero’s unsubtle commentary about class distinction and wealth wasn’t done particularly well. But there are zombies, people shooting zombies, and people getting eaten by zombies. I’m able to ignore the weak plot points for this. I mean, it’s a zombie movie. We don’t necessarily watch zombie movies for drama and plot, we watch it to see people being eaten and shooting things. And in that category, Land of the Dead delivers. Check it out if you’re interested, but don’t expect a masterpiece.

But it’s awesome compared to his next two works. Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. Yes, he’s still sticking with the “of the Dead”. That’s kind of his thing. At any rate, Diary of the Dead focussed on a group of film students who document their travels through a zombie filled world. That’s basically it. Honestly, I’m not sure what else to say about this particular film. It’s shot in the same lazy way that these movies are that are supposed to be from an amateur perspective. I guess it’s supposed to come off as artistic and realistic, but it just plays out as lazy and boring. Of all of the movies, this is the only one that I really can’t remember what happened. I didn’t care about any of the characters, it didn’t matter to me where they were going, or if they survived. So…Yeah. I guess watch it if you’re REALLY into Romero, but otherwise, just avoid it.

Sometimes you just need a zombie fix. I understand.

And hey, what do you do when you make a bad movie? Take a couple of minor characters and make a whole movie about them! What could possibly go wrong?! Ugh. Survival of the Dead is about a small group of soldiers that made a small appearance in the last movie. A very small appearance. One scene, if I remember correctly. And now they get their own movie where they go to some island. There are two main families on the island, one wants to kill the zombies, the other wants to let them “live” and wait for a cure or something. Pretty basic, really. Again, we have boring characters, and although the actual production quality is higher than the last film, it’s just as boring.

Romero hasn’t done any zombie movies since. Which is probably a good thing, really. They used to be great, but times changed and Romero didn’t. His earlier works are still fantastic, though, and if it weren’t for him, the zombie genre may never have gotten the kick it needed to.

It’s also spawned remakes and an “unauthorized sequel” that we’ll discuss at the very end of this article. Mostly now I want to tell you about my favourite zombie movie.

Or should I say...Best. Zombie Movie. Ever.

In 2004, Zack Snyder (Yes, the Zach Snyder of 300, Sucker Punch, and Watchmen) put out a remake of Dawn of the Dead. And it was one of the best zombie movies out there. It strays a bit away from the original, avoiding the idea that if you die, regardless of what happens, you’ll rise up again. Because honestly, that’s a bit silly and complicated to explain. I think the original reasoning was something about an asteroid or meteorite passing by earth and bombarding us with radiation that somehow makes dead people want to eat us. But hey, back in the 60’s, that sort of thing was all right. Nowadays, they went with something a little more sensical. Zombie infection or whatever it happens to be spread by bites. Not bitten and you die, you stay dead. Bitten and you die, you’re back up and trying to eat people in no time.

Snyder also moves away from the idea of slow, shuffling zombies. You learn this for the first time upon the group arriving at the mall (Yes, the mall idea is still in play) when a zombie SPRINTS at them. That was all manner of unnerving. I won’t go too much into plot points for this movie, but it’s got what you would expect. Great action scenes, disagreements between some of the survivors, and some of the absolute best-looking zombies I’ve ever seen. Coupled with interesting characters that you actually grow to LIKE, this movie even has a decent plot. At least, more so than the original Dawn of the Dead did. It even has a good soundtrack. I kid you not.

This guy knows what's up.

Honestly, this movie is my top five, right up there with Shawshank Redemption (best movie ever made, amirite?) and Serenity. If you have not seen this movie and you are even REMOTELY interested in zombies, I cannot encourage you enough to check it out. I could bombard you all with trivia and interesting factoids (interesting to me, at least) about his movie all day, but I don’t think that would make for a very good article. So instead I think I’m going to wrap this up by discussing one final movie. And keep in mind, this post has been only about Romero films and remakes thus far. I haven’t even gone into things like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead, or the DOZENS of terrible, TERRIBLE zombie movies that I own. Not to mention The Walking Dead, the first real zombie TELEVISION SHOW. Discounting cartoons and animes, of course. I can talk about all of those at a later date.

This one had freaking David Carradine in it. You'd better BELIEVE we're getting back to this in another article.

But the final movie we’re going to talk about today is an unauthorized Italian sequel of Dawn of the Dead. In Italy, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was released as “Zombi”. Looking to capitalize on its success, it was decided that Zombi 2 would be made. Released only one year after Dawn of the Dead, Zombi 2 came out in 1979, and it was a terrible movie. Except for one scene. One GLORIOUS scene. This scene makes the entire movie worth watching.

Ladies and Gentlemen…I give you…

A zombie fighting a shark. A REAL shark.

You’re welcome.