New Delhi: As India's first zomcom or zombie comedy hits the screens on May 10, 2013, it expects to cater to a mountain of expectations from audiences attuned to a genre Hollywood has popularised worldwide through a series of cult movies.
'Go Goa Gone' competes with the 'Rise of the Zombie' co-directed by Devaki Singh and Luke Kenny and 'The Dead 2' shot in Rajasthan with the ominous tag line 'One country. 1.2 billion people. One infection'.
'Go Goa Gone' features Saif Ali Khan, Kunal Khemu, Vir Das and Puja Gupta. It is produced by Saif, Dinesh Vijan and Sunil Lulla and is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK. The trailer was met with a lot of positive buzz as a blonde Saif who passes himself off as a Russian zombie hunter shoots gaping holes in the walking dead.
The trailer of 'The Dead 2' shows a barren Rajasthan with eerily empty houses and miles of sand dunes. Slowly emerging from among the landscape are the Indian undead - turbaned men and women with their heads covered, eyes unfocussed and blood dripping from rotting faces.
'Rise of the Zombies' is about a passionate wildlife photographer who pays more attention to his profession than the people in his life. His relationship with the real world understandably suffers. When his girlfriend leaves him, his journey into darkness begins.
For a nation that grew up on 'Night of the Living Dead', 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'Resident Evil', the three zombie films set in India are a veritable treat. This isn't a genre most directors are comfortable with. So the pressure of delivering a true blue apocalypse drama must be especially great in a year that has a big budget zombie film like the 'World War Z' lined up, which in all likelihood will get an India release, drawing in contrasts with our own zombie fare.
What do we expect from our living dead?
Gore: Blood and gore, ripping apart limbs, snapping of heads, you know, the works. The more the better. What's an honest zombie film without body parts flying?
Dialogue: The film considered the mother of the genre - George Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968) had the epic line "They're coming to get you, Barbara." The film was remade twice, with a dubious 3D version. The walking dead - whether possessed by demons, bitten, affected by a virus or simply badasses who come back to cannibalise a neighbourhood just because they can - aren't great speakers. But the dialogues are important in establishing panic. Corny zombie lines are a collector's delight.
Drama: Once the plot is established, the fun lies in the dramatic laying of the land. Check the exits, board up the doors and windows, collect the ammunition, set your family up in a zombie-safe basement, lead them out to the back of the forested landscape through a zombie-affected area or die trying to fend off the rotting hand that shoots out from under the staircase to grip your leg. Zombie films are all about the drama.
Make-up: Be it the delightful 1966 British countryside film 'Plague of the Zombies' or Nazi zombie gem 'Dead Snow' (2009), makeup plays an important part of this genre. 'Dawn of the Dead' has inspired generations of Halloween parties. The infected wounds, the rotting-in-water texture of skin and the infected eye sockets - the things that make a zombie authentic - are key to the attachment you form with them over the years.
Cannibalism: A zombie feeds on humans. Period. If you are too squeamish, kindly watch 'Dil Toh Pagal Hai' instead. Cannibalism is a big part of undead cinema, if not the entire genre.
Effects: While special effects weren't the mainstay of older zombie films such as White Zombie (1932), which mostly worked on scripts featuring a community, effects are as much a part of zomcoms and apocalypse cinema as they are in the mainstream these days. While fans still dig the old-fashioned hacking with double-edged axes, helicopters raining bullets are fascinating as well.
Resolution: What happens to the protagonists? Do they die? Is there the delicious promise of sequel in a climactic scene of a zombie spawn? How does a community fight back against the attack? Is the infection contained? Resolution is as much fun in a zombie film as the conception.
Weapons - what kills a zombie: Have you ever tried killing a zombie? The critters get back up on their feet even after being shot, axed and blown up. Zombie horror master George Romero alone has devised scores of ways to kill them. While blasting a nice big hole through a zombie is a satisfying old fashioned way of killing them, there are other gruesome zombie-endings as well. A rotating helicopter blade, a splinter through the eye and a face-off with a shark are equally popular ways to annihilate zombies. Sam Raimi seemed particularly partial to the chainsaw in his 'Dead' series.
Romance: There has to be a sub-plot of a high school/office romance that go horribly wrong as one of the couple gets bitten. A steamy romance, a kiss stolen in the face of a deadly attack as an army of body-snatchers stalk through a marsh towards living inhabitants, can always work in a zomcom.
Mannerisms: A zombie is as a zombie does. Zombies aren't known to move with speed. The trend however is changing in recent films that portrayed the devilish minds behind the dead facade and attack of the fast-moving undead. The white pupil-less eyes are intended to freeze the victims. Caricaturish acting and the grunt fest are part of the package. Background score plays a big part of zombie apocalypses.