Sometimes I believe you need to give a hint to the origins of zombies, though in George A. Romero’s Living Dead series, he doesn’t give the exact details of why people are becoming zombified! Via the use of television broadcasts, there are the assumptions that the epidemic is caused either by radiation from a space probe, or the reason that there is no more room in hell, thus the dead will walk the earth!!!
Through his films, none of these theories are proven but are merely theoretical, so really he doesn’t show the beginnings of the zombie plague, while films such as 28 Days Later (2002) and Return of the Living Dead (1985) do in those aspects. Maybe, because these are more modern than Romero’s series, we as an audience need proven evidence of why people are becoming infected?
Music videos and shorts have even less screen time than films, so it seems a waste of time to create a back-story, when you can leave the audience jumping to their own conclusions…it makes us become more interactive with the piece.
What if the boat the film is set on, is transporting a chemical weapon, which leaks and contaminates the crew, or one of the passengers is already infected before boarding? How about the group’s music is what transforms normal peeps into zombies? A few examples of what I’ve devised, but this could go on. Each person has a different mindset, so they can create their own back-stories.
The Negrita videos work well individually as stories, but also work well together as a trilogy, and from these we can see the story is a small part of a bigger picture…worldwide contamination maybe?
The setting for the video is different from usual zombie flicks, because it is set upon a boat…a mode of transport, different to Romero’s settings - a farmhouse, a mall, a military base and a city enforced by martial law. In his series, the world’s population is struggling to survive in this new world order, but how did the infection cross the seas? Negrita portrays this via the boat reaching land, and the zombies advancing towards the populated town!
Talking of endings, a proper zombie flick is not one unless it has a ‘bad’ ending! It has to tell the story of a protagonist struggling for survival through whatever means necessary, only for them to reach an obstacle at the end, which prevents this from happening! For example, being shot in the head by mercenaries (Night of the Living Dead, 1968) or running out of fuel for your helicopter (Dawn of the Dead, 1978). Day of the Dead (1985) ruined this formula by first giving us a ‘bad’ ending where the protagonist died brutally, only to wake from her nightmare on a beach!!!
In the first two Negrita vids, they end with uncertainty. Do they kill their infected friend, or does he kill them? In the third vid, you discover that all the band members have become zombies, so it wraps it up nicely, but the first two videos make you wonder about the outcome.
The usual formula of a good zombie film is about Average Joes each with their own flaws fighting for survival. They are people we can easily relate to, rather than politicians, military personnel, etc, etc. Usually in the group there is always an antagonist, who only cares about themself, and will oppose the group’s decisions. This person will eventually bring catastrophe upon their colleagues, via their own stupidity and is usually the guy who would be the first to suggest killing their infected ‘friend.’ Satisfyingly for the audience, the antagonist will usually meet a gruesome demise!
Romero’s series is different to the Negrita vids, because though Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead continue the story of Night of the Living Dead, they are about different characters, while Negrita uses the same characters. Negrita is a proper trilogy.
If the Negrita videos are supposed to represent decades of cinematography from the 70’s to 90’s, then I believe this is achieved. The first film is made with a grainy quality and the zombies are dumb and slow, but by the last film, the quality is higher, and the zombies are more menacing and quicker than their earlier counterparts!
28 Days Later, 2002. Film. Directed by Danny BOYLE. UK: Fox Searchlight Pictures
DAILYMOTION. Hey Negrita:Zombie Long form. [online]. Available at:
[Accessed 19 October 2009].
Dawn of the Dead, 1978. Film. Directed by George A. ROMERO. USA: United Film Distribution Company
Day of the Dead, 1985. Film. Directed by George A. ROMERO. USA: United Film Distribution Company
Return of the Living Dead, 1985. Film. Directed by Dan O'BANNON. USA: Orion Pictures Corporation
Don’t know if I’m the right track? - Nick