Here's the thing with Quarantine, the new zombie outbreak flick that hit theaters this weekend: It's YAZPM. You know: Yet Another Zombie Plague Movie. How does this YAZPM distinguish itself from its predecessors in the genre? Not by much. The outbreak is contained to a creepy apartment building, which I hope will spawn a round of "sick building" jokes. And there's a journalist filming the whole thing, sort of like that video game where you have to take pictures of zombies in a mall while you kill them. But in the end, Quarantine just doesn't satisfy: It feels derivative, and not just because it's a remake of Spanish film REC. So instead of seeing Quarantine, I recommend you see a better, more original YAZPM. Here are some ideas for where to start. First of all, you'll want to begin with some plague classics: George Romero's 1973 plague-makes-you-a-murderin-freak flick The Crazies (soon to be a remake), or the 1971 version of I Am Legend called Omega Man, with Charlton Heston battling people whose disease makes them hippies in whiteface.
You might want to leaven your diet of plague with a couple of books: Kathleen Ann Goonan's nanopunk classic Queen City Jazz is about a nano-plague that converts people into zombie-esque creatures who are all obsessed with playing out the plot of Huckleberry Finn. You think I'm joking but I'm not. Goonan is a rewardingly weird writer, whose ideas will infect you and make you feel strange for days after. And of course you'll need to read Max Brooks' World War Z, a modern classic in the YAZPM genre. It's the first faux documentary novel about a zombie outbreak, told as a series of interviews with survivors. Once you've digested those, you can move on to more recent YAZPM movies, starting with 28 Days Later. This flick is one of the best plague zombie movies of all time, full of grody goodness and exemplifying the "fast zombie" sub-sub-genre. If you want more ultra-violence and less plague, you can try The Signal, about an outbreak of murderous violence sparked by a maddening TV and mobile phone signal that scrambles people's perceptions. There is much limb-munching and occasional (intentional) humor. And if you need more YAZPM humor after that, you absolutely must see Zombie Strippers. It's got Jenna Jameson as a zombie, infecting all the guys who come to watch her strip — and a lot of the girls who work for her too. And, obviously, check out REC, the Spanish YAZPM movie on which Quarantine is based. Its frenetic YouTube camera style is scary and intense.