Few genres can have as profound an effect on moviegoers as horror. A great scarefest can remain indelibly etched in the audience’s collective memory and alter the way in which they see the world, causing them to check their car at the end of the night for unsuspecting ghouls. It’s part of the reason why audiences respond so enthusiastically to horror films that really work and why the genre has yielded so many classics over the years.
However, nothing in the horror landscape is as hot right now as zombies. Just ask any one of the legions of fans of The Walking Dead. In fact, we can’t help but imagine what some other recent critical and/or financial misfires would look like if zombies were injected in the proceedings. Let’s play a game of “what if,” shall we?
1. Jack and Jill (2011)
Few Adam Sandler comedies are as reviled as this unfunny mess, which sees the one-time funnyman play an obnoxious man-child and his potentially even more off-putting twin sister. The film needs all the help it can get. So imagine if the inane comedy was interrupted halfway through by a zombie outbreak.
Keep Al Pacino on board, as we can only imagine the star of Scarface and The Godfather would be invaluable in battle. Oh, and maybe let the undead loose on both Sandlers. Perhaps then audiences can at least have one cheer-worthy moment in Jack and Jill.
2. Battleship (2012)
We’re still scratching our heads to figure out how the naval strategy board game turned into a sci-fi action adventure involving alien spacecraft that apparently rises from the ocean, but its disappointing domestic box office could only have been improved by letting some zombie action infiltrate the humdrum story that so blatantly wastes the talents of one Liam Neeson.
Instead, reconfigure the film as a “zombies versus aliens” tale. That would allow Battleship to claim the place in B-movie history that it clearly so desperately hoped to secure when it, well, sank.
3. After Earth (2013)
Will Smith and son Jaden Smith made an unforgettable pair in the heart-wrenching 2007 drama The Pursuit of Happyness, and that film still stands as Will’s best big-screen performance to date. So when father and son reunited for this M. Night Shyamalan sci-fi film, audiences hoped for the best and wound up with a tiresome, bland affair that, to many, represented Hollywood nepotism at its finest.
With Jaden carrying much of the film, imagine how much more fun this would have been if the young star was forced to tangle with a horde of zombies, essentially turning this flop into a riff on Will’s I Am Legend.
4. The Expendables 3 (2014)
Sylvester Stallone. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Harrison Ford. Mel Gibson. Yes, all these men (and oh, so many more action stars) are in this second sequel to Stallone’s own 2010 hit. However, while the film needed to take the franchise into a fresh narrative direction, it instead set aside longtime characters in favor of a younger group of far less interesting upstarts for most of its running time.
If Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew had been going up against a zombie invasion, you can bet that we would all be rooting for another sequel. Here’s hoping the announced The Expendables 4 dares to introduce some radical new elements into the mix.
5. Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
OK, this adaptation of the E.L. James best-seller was a tremendous box office hit. However, its critical drubbing and status as the guiltiest of pleasures certainly qualifies it for an upgrade. The self-serious tone of the mind-numbing romance between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) could only be improved if their love affair was put to the ultimate test: the zombie apocalypse, of course!
We can only wonder how Grey’s “singular” taste in after-hours activities would factor into how he would react to a horde of flesh-hungry zombies.
6. The Boss (2016)
Melissa McCarthy plays a business woman who is released after a prison stint for insider trading and forced to rehabilitate her life. Of course, she decides to whip a girl scout group into shape (that’s what people do in that situation, right?). The results were decidedly mixed, and critics (and most audiences) failed to connect with the finished product.
Yet, if McCarthy’s character were tasked with training a group of young girls to serve as the final line of defense against an army of the undead, we’re pretty sure that The Boss would have been the breakout comedy hit of the year.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
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