Valdosta got a red carpet event for the opening of the zombie comedy movie “Zombieland,” which opened last Friday to the No. 1 spot and enjoyed a $24.7 million opening weekend. Thursday night, hundreds of people showed up at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas for festivities leading up to the midnight showing. As the movie was partly filmed in Valdosta, this was an exciting event for Valdostans.
Valdosta natives who had been extras in the movie were called and asked to show up, wearing t-shirts that bore the logo, “I Was A Zombie,” with a list of experiences common to those who were on set, including “Stuck in my costume,” “Stuck to a wall,” and “Running again.”
Other fans of the movie, and of zombie movies in general, arrived in zombie makeup and costumes, ready to participate in the costume contest or, alternately, a Woody Harrelson look-alike contest. There was also reportedly a “zombie walk” competition, of which the winners were not even people who had been extras, according to sophomore theatre major Jessalin Smith.
There was indeed a red carpet leading up to the door, and people waited and mingled outside until 11:30 p.m., when the doors were opened and people filed into three theaters to see the movie.
There was a great sense of excitement in the air, and as soon as Wild Adventures was shown in the film, some audience members cheered. Others who waited to see the post-credits clip cheered when the words “Filmed on location in the state of Georgia” appeared in the credits.
“I greatly appreciate that it shows Wild Adventures. I’m happy for [my friends who were in the movie],” said VSU graduate Patrick Johnson, who attended the Valdosta premiere. “I felt the sense of rooting for the home team when I saw Wild Adventures,” said VSU graduate Adam Hebert, who also attended the premiere and who was an extra in the film.
Reviews of the movie have been positive, according to both the critics and regular folk. The movie has an 87% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, meaning it has been rated “fresh.” “Benefiting from the very different but very appealing comedy styles of Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg even when the script’s wit runs thin, this should be catnip to jaded genre fans,” wrote Dennis Harvey of Variety Magazine.
The movie has suffered some negative reviews, of course; “[T]he movie is strictly a compendium of all the ways to off zombies, which can be downed with guns, of course, as well as baseball bats, gardening tools, a toilet-bowl lid, even a piano,” wrote Manohla Dargis in a New York Times review.
Other critics find that the movie doesn’t exactly do anything new; “There’s also the question of how incisive a satire can be when it’s satirizing something that’s already a joke,” wrote Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle.
However, laymen have been celebrating the movie, which has been compared to British zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead,” which was released in 2004 and grossed $30 million worldwide. Johnson said he feels that “Shaun of the Dead” is Britain’s greatest zombie comedy, and “Zombieland” is America’s equivalent.
Hebert agreed that “Zombieland” rivals “Shaun of the Dead.
“I thought it was surprising. It caught me off guard at quite a few points. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I even stopped trying to look for myself in scenes because I got so into it,” he said.
A considerable percentage of Facebook statuses have been devoted to the movie, quoting lines of dialogue or the “rules” that Jesse Eisenberg’s character, Columbus, compiles in the film.
“I enjoyed the movie a lot; it was really funny, and if they made a sequel I would definitely go see it,” said junior VSU student Gabbie Bernstein.
Additional reporting by Josh Parker