Warm Bodies is a charming surprise of a movie for a variety of reasons. It sits, improbably, in a genre of its own, a zombie romantic comedy (zom-rom-com). Hollywood often combines horror with romance or romance with comedy, but fear and laughter don’t go well together because they cancel one another out. If you want to overcome the fear of something, just find a way to laugh at it. The only other movies I can think of that did this combination well are An American Werewolf in London (1981) and last year’s Cabin in the Woods. Seth and I don’t see a lot of horror movies, though, so there may well be others.
Young love makes the lover feel vividly and intensely alive. Warm Bodies uses the zombie apocalypse as a metaphor for this phenomenon. A secondary metaphor explains the zombie lust for brains in the context of drugs—and actually makes sense. I won’t go into why the young zombie, R, (Nicholas Hoult) falls in love with beautiful and plucky human Julie (Teresa Palmer) but, from that point on, the movie explodes the boundaries of a typical zombie-apocalypse horror film. It becomes that rare and unusual combination of horror, romance and comedy that actually works. With a message perfect for Valentine’s Day, love truly conquers all, even death, even un-death. If you are not completely grounded in reality and can enjoy a movie that’s somewhat out there and requires suspension of disbelief, I highly recommend Warm Bodies.
If you are firmly grounded in reality and wonder where the whole zombie myth got started, I direct you to The Serpent and the Rainbow, a non-fiction book by Harvard ethno-botanist Wade Davis and published in 1985. Fascinated by the concept and wondering where it came from, Davis studied the Haitian religion of Voudoun and discovered how a learned shaman could use the powerful tetrodotoxin derived from the bufo marinus, the indigenous marine toad, to create an artificial “death” state, followed by a resurrection that he controlled—as he controlled the “undead” slave thereafter using datura, a drug that produces amnesia, delirium and suggestibility. Tetrodotoxin is the same neurotoxin found in the Japanese puffer fish, fugu, which produces near-death—as well as full-death—states in Japanese consumers every year.
BTW: Do not confuse the book with the awful 1988 movie that was "based on" it. I just hope the rights gave Davis enough money to fund another study.
If humans are what you eat, then beware tetrodotoxins lest you be zombified. If you’re a zombie and you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.