Dead overrated: Is 28 Days Later a bit shit?

THE praise heaped upon 28 Days Later is more appropriate for Danny Boyle actually having invented cinema, not giving zombie films a makeover. Here’s why it’s somewhat overrated.

Running zombies 

‘Ah, but what about the innovative running zombies?’ you say, if you’re as tragically obsessed with a medium-budget 2002 horror movie as this article is. They actually first appeared in 1980’s Nightmare City or possibly 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. It’s disputed, but the main problem is that it takes away their scary ‘zombieness’ and turns them into just ‘well-motivated cannibals’. 

The laboratory chimps are infected with ‘rage’

It’d be interesting to see the research grant application. ‘Eradicate the normal human emotion of anger by turning monkeys into psychotic killers with a highly contagious virus’? Danny Boyle may have reinvigorated the genre, but in mad scientist terms it’s as cliched as ‘Success! I have transplanted a murderer’s hand onto an accident victim! No harm can come of this!’

Stupidity + zombies = poor outcomes

In their wisdom, the characters decide to drive a cab through the completely dark, heavily obstructed Blackwall tunnel. Might the light-averse zombies be in here, rather than, say, having a day out at the National Maritime Museum? Maybe just drive over to Tower Bridge? It’s not far by car, as the cabbie character would know. They narrowly escape, no thanks to their ‘Let’s read this occult incantation out loud!’ horror movie stupidity.

‘The infected’ are zombies, end of

Even if characters in zombie films live in a universe where zombie movies don’t exist, any film that refuses to call zombies zombies instantly draws attention to it. It’s like sitting down for dinner and your partner saying: ‘Could you pass the sodium chloride dispersal unit?’

The army instantly turns into rapists

Only the most mental army officer would start planning to rape female captives for breeding purposes after 28 days. What if a cure is found on day 29? It’s definitely court martial territory, although the Mail and the Sun would start a campaign to get you off. And while the army doesn’t have the most spotless record on this, why do soldiers in horror movies always turn into sexual predators? Surely there’d be at least a few going, ‘You know this evil, demented breeding plan? It’s a bit evil and demented. Also, maybe we should focus on not being eaten alive, or indeed starving to death?’

It should really be called 28 Triffids Later

Writer Alex Garland is open about taking inspiration from Day of the Triffids. That’s fine, but not so much when it’s the best bits – the creepy deserted hospital and empty London streets. Plus the whole sodding idea of Cillian Murphy awaking in a terrifying, barely-recognisable world.

It’s the 7/10 pub lunch of zombie movies

It’s got zombies, escaping from zombies, gory corpses, the collapse of society and a glimmer of hope for humanity. It’s all perfectly adequate – the zombie equivalent of a pub Sunday roast which was okay but you only got one slice of beef and the potatoes weren’t crispy.

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This week in Mash History: Sigmund Freud sees his mum in the nip, 1866

PSYCHOLOGY often traces emotional problems back to our parents and, more controversially, sex. One man appears to be the source of this: Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud.

But did you know that Freud’s idea of the Oedipus complex, first introduced in The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, is the direct result of seeing his mum’s tits? A keystone of modern psychiatry was put in place, and all thanks to his dad not being arsed to put a lock on the bathroom door.

In a childhood diary Freud wrote: “In the pages that follow I shall bring forth proof that every man is plagued by an obsession with his mother’s naked body, and I’m not just saying that because my mum has got smashing funbags.

“A story we did at school, about a king of the Classical era who mistakenly killed his father and slept with his mother, supports my hypothesis. I do not accept my classmates’ argument that ‘It’s just a story, you fucking weirdo’. 

“This is incontrovertible evidence that they are merely suppressing their constant thoughts about shagging their mothers in a variety of positions and erotic lingerie.

“Further, my theory is watertight, as it explains why I still sleep in my parents’ bed and have an intense desire to cave my father’s head in with a hammer. Like Oedipus, and us all, I possess a typical human brain, and therefore my recurring dreams about Mama’s pert arse cheeks are not a bit strange.

“There is more work to be done on this, perhaps involving the study of naked images of other mums, and female teachers. If only there were a scientific term for this field of research.

“However I see no flaws in my theory. In my latest test I thought of girls I fancy and then completely involuntarily compared them to my mother. Good news, Mum, you’re the fittest and it’s a shame we can’t get married. Unless… no, I should really stop thinking about that.”

And so the young Freud was set on the path of psychoanalysis and reassuring men whose wives look a bit like their mum that they are not massive perverts.

Next week: To 1883, when Ivan Pavlov’s Alsatian pestering him for biscuits gave him an idea for a lucrative research grant.