History Lessons: “Apocalyptic Horror” (Episode 3.4)

Talking heads cover undeath and destruction in the latest episode of Eli Roth’s History of Horror.


Ruben Fleischer: I think it’s a human trait that we imagine that we’re the last civilization. I think every civilization throughout time has thought they’re probably going to be the ones who end it for everybody that comes to follow. So it’s generated this whole genre where we get to see or imagine what that might be like.


Max Brooks: I think that future zombie historians will see [World War Z] as a turning point for zombies in pop culture. The special effects are now copied in every zombie movie. Because I was just watching Train to Busan, and the zombies coming together in a river of humans? That’s straight out of World War Z.


Margaret Cho: Train to Busan is probably one of the greatest Korean films. There’s something about Koreans where we have a lot of protocol in terms of, like, hierarchy and age, and manners are so deeply ingrained in your being. Part of the horror if you’re Korean is watching it and seeing people lose all of those kind of protocols, all of those social niceties.


Joe Hill: So the biggest problem with zombie films at this point is the idea that anyone would be surprised by zombies. Everyone has a zombie apocalypse plan and Zombieland is the first movie to sort of take that head-on. To admit that this is a scenario that is almost cliché at this point and that everyone is prepared for it and here are the rules you need to follow to keep you alive.


Joe Dante: When you look at it with Night of the Living Dead, you see that George Romero was definitely inspired by The Last Man on Earth. His treatment of the zombie characters is extremely similar to the ones in this movie. They’re lethargic and they moan and groan and they call the name of the hero.


Lydia Hearst: I think that [I Am Legend] really plays into one of the greatest fears that we all have, which is, yes, of course, we’re all afraid of the apocalypse and the end of the world, zombies, that whole thing. But also just being alone.


Rebekah McKendry: All of them [The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, I Am Legend] have the same thread that at some point, man is the monster. That society will keep reinventing itself over and over, and if you stay stuck in the past and don’t evolve, you may be the source of legend. You may become the monster.


Eli Roth: Steven Spielberg’s 2006 adaptation [War of the Worlds] had an equally blunt message about American complacency and overconfidence. Set in New York and made just a few years after 9/11, it’s a nightmare vision of a terrorist attack waged by shadowy enemies we don’t understand.


Jonah Ray: Like this is the height of, you know, valley girl mentality. This culture that’s very ditzy LA women. And to see a movie where they end up surviving and kicking ass just makes it really stand the test of time with how, like, great [Night of the Comet] is.


Dan Trachtenberg: I kept on saying to everyone that we’re sort of the inverse and that in Misery, you meet Kathy Bates and you like her and trust her, and then you’re not sure if there’s a darkness. In our movie [10 Cloverfield Lane], we meet this guy, and we’re immediately going, “He’s trouble. I’ve seen this horror movie before. I got to get out of here.” And then it flips on us and we go, “Oh wait, maybe he’s not trouble,” you know?


Michael Dougherty: [Leonard] Nimoy, who up until then had always been seen as a good guy, as Spock from Star Trek, suddenly playing a villain, made [Invasion of the Body Snatchers] extra frightening. But he was also, like, a strange sort of ambassador or emissary for their point of view. He almost made becoming a pod person sound somewhat appealing.



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