In Defense of the Crappy Zombie Movie

I volunteered to host a guest blog to go along with this year’s Winter of Zombie. And here it is. Jay Wilburn talking about the allure of the crappy zombie movie:

In Defense of the Crappy Zombie Movie

by Jay Wilburn

me (1)There is comradery between zombie fans centered around terrible zombie movies. From video stores into the age of Netflix, the choices of badly shot, badly written, and badly executed zombie films has grown and grown. There are some great, even epic, zombie movies, but they just serve to emphasize the very low bar that other films reach. Some of them don’t even bother to reach, but they provide painful bonding experiences to fans all over the world. The fifth season premiere of The Walking Dead set the record for the series to date with over seventeen million viewers. There are films that will be classics and enjoyed for generations. These are not the ones I’m talking about.

Horror films are quick go-to’s for amateur, aspiring directors. The special effects that used to be mysteries are easier to replicate using information available online and software has expanded exponentially what can be done with visuals in editing. There are some high quality movies made on relatively low budgets. I’m not really talking about those either.

The zombie movie made with a cheap camera and bad make-up: Here is where life-long friendships are forged. There is nothing like a movie that has you bowing and shaking your head part way through. Other genre of film do the same thing, but those are likely to be turned off at that point. Zombie fans will sometimes let them run. They will let the pain continue. If others are with them, they can hold on together in the misery.

There is nothing nearly as character building as surviving the poor recreation of the zombie apocalypse and telling others what you have learned. These are the moments where an adult man looks into his soul and asks himself what a grown man is doing watching something like this. Worse, what is he doing watching another one and then another one.

Some of these films have titles that give full warning that there is a terrible experience ahead – titles that are offensive to one or more groups – puns that are so awfully conceived that they make porn look intellectually sophisticated – stories that are so monumentally terrible that no amount of nudity will ever make it worth the journey even in fast forward. These are the trials the separate zombie fans from others that demand quality in their entertainment.

I realize some of you have had enough. You are done with the terrible, independent zombie film. You are rightfully tired of the badly constructed zombie books and you value your time too much to subject yourself to it any longer. I respect that. You are still a fan and if the genre ever rises to meet its true potential, it will be because you demanded it. I will be no help, however. I do strive to make more of my books and stories, but a secretly (maybe not so secretly now) I love the terrible zombie film. I want more.

I challenge myself to sit through another and then another. I see a zombie film with Danny Trejo above the title and I am sold. I look at the terrible title and the worse artwork and I’m itching to hit play. I know what I am in for and I let it happen. I can’t wait to post about how such a thing still managed to drop below my worst expectations.

Occasionally, these forays of self-abuse surprise me by revealing a better than average story or film. This is my rare reward for being willing to dive into the fray again and again. The real reward is seeing the terrible joy the filmmakers had in putting together something they knew was awful, but they saw it through until the end anyway. There is also a forbid fascination with the projects where it becomes clearer and clearer with every minute that they have no idea how bad this was. It’s like watching a train wreck for an hour and twenty-seven minutes.

This brand of torture may not be for you. You can still enjoy the stories of those who endured the terrible stories. It is part of what makes zombie fans strong. It is the element of the genre that makes the fans so appreciative when something truly amazing happens. Set the bar high, but know that if you don’t, I will still be watching.


The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

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