When it comes to zombie films, it seems that most viewers are most concerned about the zombies (and rightly so). People worry about the make-up, if they’re fast or slow, if they offer/add anything new to the genre, etc.
But what about the zombie killers? These unsung heroes of zombie films are often overlooked. Now I’m not talking about the typical character in a zombie film that survives by killing some zombies here and there. Come on, we expect a little more here at Dread Central for Christ’s sake!! The characters I’m talking about like… no, love killing zombies and go out of their way to destroy a brain or two. Below is a list of my favorite zombie ass-kickers, in no particular order.
Lionel Cosgrove, Dead Alive (1992)
I mean, seriously; has there been any character in zombie film history who starts off so timid and peaceful and ends up being one badass zombie killer?? Ok, ok, maybe Ash (see below). Lionel, though, has certainly earned a solid spot on this list for not just “taking care of business,” but by doing so with style, creativity, and a certain innocent-like bloodlust. The lawnmower scene alone is a modern-day classic.
Brooke, Wyrmwood (2014)
Wyrmwood has taken the zombie genre by storm, and rightly so. This is a fast-paced zombie flick. It’s like The Road Warrior and Undead had a love baby and named it Wyrmwood!! Without giving anything away, Brooke is the subject of some nasty zombie-based experiments, and after she escapes from her captors, she realizes she’s not quite the person she was before. She’s officially a badass zombie ass-kicker.
Alice, Resident Evil films (2002, ’04, ’07, ’10)
Granted, the films aren’t too good. I enjoyed the first RE, but honestly, this franchise got old really fast. Putting aside the films themselves, ya gotta admit that Alice (Milla Jovovich) is a badass zombie killer, and she looks fantastic doing it. We get side-boob and lots of upper thigh shots to make her zombie-killing scenes that much more entertaining. Alice isn’t just hot, she’s one tough broad that sincerely enjoys killing zombies with guns, knives, and her own bare hands.
Ashley J. Williams (aka Ash), Evil Dead films (1987)
Oh, Ash, what can I possibly say about one of the original badass zombie ass-kickers? There are three Evil Dead films, but I think Bruce Campbell’s best “Ash” performance is in the second one. Ash gets tormented as much as he kicks ass in part two (the laughing house, cutting off his own hand, etc.), but he never loses sight of the job at hand: killing zombies. And yes, I’m aware that the “dead” in the Evil Dead films are actually not zombies but demons possessing human bodies, but there was no way in hell I was leaving Ash off this list. Ash kicks ass, and that’s that.
Ouessem, The Horde (2009)
First off, if you haven’t yet seen The Horde, what the fuck are you waiting for?? This is a fantastic zombie flick that may not redefine the zombie genre, but it will entertain the shit out of you. Everyone in the film kicks ass, but none more so than Ouessem (Jean-Pierre Martins). This crazy bastard relishes in killing zombies, and when he and the group get trapped in a parking garage, he sacrifices himself. But he doesn’t just curl up into the fetal position and eat a bullet. Hell no. He goes out in one of the best blazes of glory ever put on film. When he stands up on the hood of the car, you’ll be standing and cheering him on.
Marion, Undead (2003)
This movie really surprised me. When it starts, you immediately think you’re in for a long, shitty movie. The film doesn’t look all that good, the camera work is pretty basic, and even the soundtrack isn’t very impressive. But then the film hits its stride and you start having a lot of fun. When Marion (Mungo McKay), who is presented as the “town looney,” shows up, this film gets really fun and bloody really fast. Marion has an arsenal of homemade weapons, and he truly loves unleashing them on the legions of the undead. His trademark gun is a triple shotgun he welded together. It’ll totally remind you of the shotgun Reggie makes in Phantasm 2. Good times.
Tom Hunt, Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)
This film could have so easily fallen into melodrama and being too preachy, but writer-director Kevin Hamedani and writer Ramon Isao never forget they’re primarily making a zombie film. Tom Hunt (Doug Fahl) has come home with his boyfriend to the small community of Port Gamble to come out of the closet to his mom. What he didn’t expect was his mom being bit by a zombie and slowly turning into the undead during the dinner (in a scene that is an obvious homage to the luncheon scene in Dead Alive). Tom may start off as a very reluctant zombie killer, but by the end he is kicking ass and not caring about names. It seems he came out of the closet twice: once as a gay man and another as an ass-kicking zombie killer!!
Peter, Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Did you really think I was gonna leave Peter off this list? Sure, in the beginning of the film Peter’s zombie killing was more utilitarian. He killed zombies to clear out the mall so they could live safely. But by the end he fully embraced his special skill at zombie killing. Near the end when he almost puts a bullet in his head and decides instead to fight, well, he uses nothing but his will to live and his fists of steel to fight his way through the hordes of the undead and make it up to the roof. Peter might just be the original Zombie Ass-Kicker!!
Tallahassee, Zombieland (2009)
Speaking of “special skills,” is there anyone who has more natural talent at killing zombies than Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson)? “My momma always said I’d be great at something. Who knew it’d be at killing zombies?” Fueled by a quest to find some goddamn Twinkies, Tallahassee treats each zombie he meets like the ones who killed his son. His eyes sparkle and his grin is wide as he kills off the undead. The final scenes in the amusement park solidify Tallahassee on this list.
Ash, Last of the Living (2008)
Another Ash? Hell ya!! Last of the Living is an indie zombie flick that isn’t without its problems, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. We follow around three slackers during the zombie apocalypse as they loot not just for food but also for some kick-ass video games, DVDs, and music. Their weapons of choice are simple weapons: a golf club, a baseball bat, and Ash (Ashleigh Southam) carries around two sticks. Ya see, Ash kinda fancies himself a martial arts expert and even has a special move he calls “The Berserker.” This is when he extends his arms out and twirls around really fast, like a helicopter. Out of the three friends, Ash seems to be the only one who really enjoys killing zombies. Just wait until you see him use “The Berserker” move on a group of zombies!! Ash also has a great scene on top of a car.
Barbara, Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Hopefully I don’t need to stress I’m referring to the Barbara from Savini’s 1990 remake of this classic film. Let’s face it, Barbra from the original was about as effective as a twelve-step program for Amy Winehouse. Barbara (Patricia Tallman) from the remake, though, is most definitely not the same comatose Barbra from the original. She has her moments of being in shock, but she quickly comes out of her “coma” to truly kick some serious zombie ass. She makes Tony Todd look like a slacker. She never hesitates and is easily the best re-envisioned character in any remake I’ve seen. By the end of the film she looks like a battle-hardened ass-kicker, and I’d love to see a sequel to this one where we follow the “new Barbara” around.
There’s my list. Who are your favorite zombie ass-kickers? Let me know who else I should’ve included on the list.