Undead Again?: Recently Receased the Movie

We human beings are flawed.

It’s one of the unifying beliefs of our species. But how do we make things right again? Well, then you’ve got yourself a debate as old as time. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Zombie movies have been huge for quite awhile. I admit, I love them if they’re done well. But then I wonder why I love them, and for that matter why anyone does. A lot of it, of course, is the eternal question we ask ourselves when we hear about our grandparents looking for work during the Great Depression while we’re actively engaged in a one-click download: What if we lost all this stuff? What would remain? These are compelling questions, but I think it’s only half of it. The rest is, of course, all about the Great American Zombie.

Think about this with me… I genuinely believe there’s something profound here. Zombies eat people. So do lions. Man-eating lions have not launched billion-dollar film franchises (Simba never ate a guy). By nature, zombies are disgusting, repulsive, and they’re everywhere. So is the flu. There have been a few movies about the threat of disease (and I’m writing this in the midst of COVID), but they’re meant to inspire fear. Zombie movies inspire fear, and chainsaw and 12-gauge sales. So what is it about them?

I think it’s because they look like us.

There’s a reason why most zombie movies carry an R-rating. We love zombie gore. We have no problem with a zombie survivor taking a crowbar to some zombie’s head. If it were still human, the camera would cut wisely, tastefully away; in a zombie movie the camera pushes in, so we don’t miss one blood-splattered frame. We love watching violence against humans, but we don’t want to feel bad about it. In other words, zombies bridge the gap between our animalistic desire for carnage and our God-given desire to preserve life. And it presents no moral ambiguity. If you don’t kill the zombie, it will kill you. So get to it.

Here’s another way to look at it:What if zombies thought and talked like humans?

I had this idea a long time ago that got turned into a short web series done by Broken Phonebooth Productions, the group I work with. It’s about a zombie who not only talks, but claims to be normal … insisting his flesh-eating proclivity isn’t a product of his nature but a personality flaw he can fix. By the end he knows better. He can’t make it right.

I wanted to tell a similar story in long form, but make it funnier and mess with the format a bit. So I came up with Recently Receased, a mockumentary about a new zombie who has to prove to the government he’s a normal human being or he’ll be deported to the nation’s only zombie preserve, in Miami. Not only do I get to mess with the genre, I get to talk a little about normal humanity.

This script is my most well-received. It made it into the top 15% of Austin Film Festival 2016’s selections. I’d love to see it made. I’d have to produce it myself, most likely, and I’m not a fan of that idea. But we’ll see.

But, back to my original question. What do we do with our flawed human state? Do we work hard to overcome our nature, do we succumb to it, or do we seek a third option? Zombies, in the dim recesses of what constitutes their minds, face this question every day (or they would if they were real). We full-on humans do the same. Who’s to say which way is the right one? Let the eternal debate commence!

All image attributions as they appear on the page:
All images captured from Are You a Debt Zombie Infected With Debtsomnia?, a video by debtsomnia.com