Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #17

It's our shitty beer edition! We sample the worst beers that we could find. After controlling our gag reflexes, we discuss Texas elections, creationists, and standards in education. Also, our Bullshit Question of the Week!

Episode #17 Show Notes

We shorten it up in this episode. We discuss the Texas Republican primaries for the State Board of Education and the changing of history standards. Also how creationists are teaming up with global warming deniers to change textbooks.

Beer, Bullshit + Brains Top 10 Zombie Movies of All Time

Illustration by Tony Knaak. Photograph courtesy of KangleStock via Deviant Art.

As anyone who has listened to the podcast knows, we love zombies. We could talk for hours about the subtle intricacies of the living dead and how to best survive the inevitable plague. Zombies are gloriously gory, mindless killing machines with an endless appetite for brains and we love them.

I am currently listening to the audiobook version of Max Brooks' World War Z and now I have zombies on the brain, which explains this post. I have read the book before and I am a little disappointed that the audiobook is abridged. In my opinion, World War Z is the pinnacle of zombie fiction. It is a very realistic story about mankind's battle to survive the zombie apocalypse. Unlike most other zombie stories, it is an epic worldwide look at the affects of an undead pandemic, and not a character story of a small group of survivors slowly getting picked off by the horde.

Ever since I heard that they are making a movie version of WWZ, I've been like a kid trying to wait for Christmas morning. If done right, the movie could be the greatest zombie movie ever made. It could be an epic work on par with The Lord of the Rings, which as you know, we also love. On the other hand, it could as easily be the biggest crapfest since The Phantom Menace with multiple story lines tripping all over each other and CG zombies that look like Jar Jar Binks' abortion. Obviously, I am hoping for the former.

While I eagerly await the film adaption of World War Z, I've asked our podcasters to come up with a definitive list of the top 10 zombie movies of all time. While we each came up with our own list of personal favorites, I've taken the average of those separate lists to come up with the Beer, Bullshit & Brains Top Ten Zombie Movies of All Time.

What is a zombie?

While compiling this list, I've noticed that several of the movies on it can be argued aren't zombie movies at all. If you just use "undead creatures feeding on the flesh of the living" as the sole criteria, we would have to exclude movies such as The Serpent and the Rainbow and 28 Days Later, while including that sparkling piece of shit known as Twilight. Wikipedia defines zombies as:
"a creature that appears in books and popular culture typically as a reanimated dead or a mindless human being."

Does a zombie actually have to be undead, or can it be a person lacking the higher functions that make it human? Do zombies have to infect others with some sort of zombie virus, or can they be created and controlled by a scientist or witchdoctor? People will be arguing over these details for generations. Is Pet Semetary a zombie movie? What about Frankenstein? This is part of the reason the zombie genre is so rich, it is a big tent for the creatures in allows under it. The zombies on this list may take many forms, but we all agree, they are great movies.

10. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Coming up with the number ten spot on this list was surprisingly hard. With formula that I was using to make this list, Idle Hands should have been in this spot. However, I can not bring myself to put it on here, especially after that last line I wrote about agreeing these are all great movies. George Romero's Night of the Living Dead is on here because it invented the modern zombie genre. Zombies have been around since the movie White Zombie in 1932, but Living Dead removed all the voodoo and replaced it with the shuffling corpses that we all love today.

9. Fido (2007)

The story of a boy and his zombie. This movie takes place in an alternate 1950s where zombies have been tamed. It is a twisted comedy that puts an undead twist on the conservative sensibilities of the day. It is sort of like Lassie, if the dog occasionally devoured the neighbors.

8. Planet Terror (2007)

A campy homage to movies of old with burnt frames, missing scenes and an assload of babes and zombies. When it comes to over the top zombie action, this has it in spades. Often overshadowed by Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, which was released as the other half of the Grindhouse doublefeature, Planet Terror is a great blend of 70s style action and cheesy plot. If you are curious about what kind of movie it is, look no further than the poster. Rose McGowan with a machine gun for a leg. How awesome is that?

7. Day of the Dead (1985)

Scientists stave off zombie attacks and do creepy experiments on them in an underground bunker in George Romero's 3rd movie in his zombie legacy. The characters aren't as sympathetic as the group hiding the mall during Dawn of the Dead, in fact, there are a lot of assholes and you are rooting for zombies just to kill everyone. Being as this is a Romero movie, you get your wish.

6. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

This movie, unlike its predecessor, is a broader look at how an entire country would deal with the a zombie plague. 28 weeks after the plague, the government begins to repopulate England. This film deals with a society trying to reform and recover, which really contrasts the survivor story of 28 Days Later. This movie takes a lot of shit for not being nearly as good as 28 Days Later, but I think those complaints are unfounded. It is an entirely different kind of movie and doesn't pretend to be rehash of the first movie. It is the next logical step in the series.

5. Zombieland (2009)

The most recent addition to the list. It is a great blend of action and comedy and the funniest zombie film since Shawn of the Dead. This movie really highlights the joy of killing zombies. I almost wish for the zombie apocalypse just so I can drive around smashing my car door into a zombie's head. The highlight of Zombieland is quite possibly the best celebrity cameo of all time. I won't spoil it here, you'll just have to watch the movie.

4. Army of Darkness (1993)

Come get some! Army of Darkness is the last of the Evil Dead trilogy. Ash, the dimwitted hero played to perfection by Bruce Campbell, is transported along with his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 to the year 1300 where he must retrieve the Necronomicon and defeat the Deadite army. This movie is perhaps the funniest film on this list; it definitely has the best one-liners. If you haven't seen this cult classic, go rent it today. And remember, Hail to the king, baby!

3. 28 Days Later (2002)

The premise of 28 Days Later is creepy, just creepy. Imagine waking up from a coma to find the world empty of people, and when you do finally find someone, they turn out to be mindless creatures whose only purpose is to rip your face off. Danny Boyle reboots the zombie genre in this movie by making the zombies more realistic. They are no longer undead, but infected with the Rage virus. Also, they're fast. Gone are the shuffling hordes of the past, they've been replaced with bloodthirsty sprinters that want to tear any survivors limb from limb. When you add the truly scary running zombies to the oddly sad and eerily empty landscape, the result is a very haunting film.

2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Dawn of the Dead is the Godfather of zombie films. The second of George Romero's living dead movies, Dawn of the Dead follows the story of a small group of survivors as they take refuge in a mall. Unlike the 2005 remake, this movie is a parable of the fragile nature of society and a critique of the rampant consumerism of the late 1970's. Dawn has so many layers of meaning to it, that it is worth repeated viewings. Many films of the genre are just excuse for cheap horrors and gore, but Dawn of the Dead is not only one of the goriest films ever made, it is filled with an underlying sense of dread that stays with you long after the film has ended.

1. Shawn of the Dead (2004)

Shawn of the Dead is at the top of the list for several reasons. First, it invented the Zombie Romantic Comedy genre. It took the zombie apocalypse, which other movies had envisioned as a horrific end-of-days senerio, and re-invented it as ridiculous, piss-your-pants-funny comedy. Shawn of the Dead took all of the conventions of zombie movies and, instead of trying to reboot them without the campiness like 28 Day Later did, SotD embraced them and their absurdity. Not only was this movie the perfect parody of the zombie genre, it was such a good zombie movie in and of itself that it re-launched the current zombie craze. If you look back at the 90's, they were a wasteland for zombie movies. The genre was way past its Ramero golden years. The few zombie movies that were made were god-awful. After Shawn of the Dead was released in 2004, dozens of zombie movies have hit the theaters and many of them were so good that they made our list. Those movies owe their existence to Shawn of the Dead. And that is why it is at the top of our list.

Our Individual Lists

For those of you wondering what our individual lists were before we averaged them together, here they are:

Justin's Picks
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
2. Shawn of the Dead (2004)
3. 28 Days Later (2002)
4. Army of Darkness (1993)
5. Zombieland (2009)
6. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
7. Fido (2007)
8. Day of the Dead (1985)
9. Planet Terror (2007)
10. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Tony's Picks
1. Shawn of the Dead (2004)
2. Army of Darkness (1992)
3. 28 Days Later (2002)
4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
5. Day of the Dead (1985)
6. Planet Terror (2007)
7. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
8. Zombieland (2009)
9. Idle Hands (1999)
10. Land of the Dead (2005)

Scott's Picks
1. Shawn of the Dead (2004)
2-10. I'll leave this to you guys.

Snake Oil or Supplement?

Information is Beautiful has a wonderful interactive graphic illustrating the scientific evidence for health supplements. What is surprising to me, is that many supplements that I had written off as crap actually have strong evidence for treating certain conditions. Like St. John's wart for treating mild depression. Who would have thunk? However, what is no surprise, by far most supplements fall in to the categories of having little to no scientific evidence for the claims that are made about them. Vitamin C, ginseng and gingko biloba are all a waste of money. My favorite thing about this graphic is that it shows that even if some claims are correct about a supplement, that doesn't make it a cure all. Green tea for example is has cholesterol reducing properties, but there is little evidence that it can prevent cancer or help in weight loss. If you are spending money on supplements or are thinking about it, please check out this site. You might end up saving a lot of money.

Dr.Rachie Wins a Shorty

Dr. Rachael Dunlop, who tweets under the feed @drrachie, has been honored as the winner of the health category during the second annual Shorty Awards. The Shorty Awards recognize excellence on Twitter. The runner-up was homeopath and quack, Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dr. Rachie's win represents a real win for science and skepticism. Congrats.