Zombie Date Night

P&P&ZI don’t really intend my blog to turn into a movie review site, but there has been more than the usual amount of activity in the period movie arena lately, begging some kind of response. (See previous post for my thoughts on Far From the Madding Crowd and Unleashing Mr. Darcy.) Most recently, we have the much delayed debut of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I can hardly allow such a thing to pass without comment, can I?

I know I said I didn’t plan to go see it. And I meant it at the time. I read the book years ago, not because I thought I would enjoy it (zombies not being my thing at all), but because I felt I needed to keep up with what was going on in my corner of the literary world – specifically Jane Austen Fan Fiction. My reaction to the book:

  • intriguing concept (for the first few chapters)
  • quick and easy way to write a book, when someone else has already written 3/4 of it for you (at least Seth Grahame-Smith rightly gave Jane Austen top billing)
  • novelty quickly wears thin and then the concept is unsustainable

P&P&ZbookI shouldn’t admit my other thought at the time, which was, “Darn! Why didn’t I come up with the idea first?” I wouldn’t really have been interested in spending that much time thinking and writing about zombies, but I wouldn’t mind the paychecks associated with the franchise.

At any rate, one serving of zombies was quite enough for me, I decided. No need to see the movie version of P&P&Z.

That is, until it came out. I began hearing some pretty positive comments, and I was forced to reconsidered. Perhaps I should be more open minded and not prejudge. Perhaps it would be right (my duty, even) to support with my ticket purchase any company willing to risk millions producing a film paying tribute, however irreverently, to Jane Austen. After all, no one will make more Austenesque movies (The Darcys of Pemberley, I might suggest) if those already made lose money.

The deciding factor in the end was my husband saying he thought we should go see it together. Eureka! Date night!

In general, our tastes in movies cover very little common ground. My husband’s extensive private collection is mostly sci-fi, action, and adventure – lots of gun battles, car chases, and explosions, always with the fate of the entire world (or even the universe) hanging in the balance. By contrast, my more modestly sized collection heavily features romantic comedies, period dramas, and all things Austen. Finally, with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, we had a movie that combined our interests into one. The basics of the timeless love story are still there, just with the escalated stakes and swordplay of a horror movie.

So we went; we watched; we both enjoyed. Even laughed out loud in spots. It turned out to be more campy fun than graphic gruesomeness. And the story made better sense than in the book, from what I can remember. This may be one of those rare occasions when the movie actually improves on the novel on which it’s based. Or maybe it helped that it only had to hold my attention for two hours, not twelve. Overall, though, I’d give it a B. The jury is still out on whether P&P&Z will earn a spot in his/mine/our home movie collection.

  • Weak point: a less-than-swoon-worthy Mr. Darcy
  • Highlight: a decidedly different take on Darcy’s first proposal to Lizzy

tP&P&Zillustration“Do you think any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?” As she pronounced these words, Mr. Darcy changed colour; but the emotion was short, for Elizabeth presently attacked with a series of kicks, forcing him to counter with the drunken washwoman defense. She spoke as they battled: “I have every reason in the world to think ill of you…” (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith)

What say you? Have you seen it or plan to? Laughed out loud or hated it? I fear in this case there is very little middle ground.



About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
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20 Responses to Zombie Date Night

  1. JerryT says:

    Haven’t seen it yet but plan to. It’s my understanding it isn’t released yet. Did you see it at the film festival. I endorse your choice of The Darcys of Pemberley as the basis for a movie!

    • Thanks for the endorsement, Jerry! Know anybody who can get that done? I did receive one anonymous inquiry about the movie rights through the William Morris Agency. Alas, it came to naught, at least so far.

      No, we saw P&P&Z at the theater. It’s been out in my area (Seattle) for weeks.

  2. Anji says:

    Thanks for the review Shannon. I’m going to have to wait for the DVD I think. No way would my DH go to the cinema with me to see this, I hate going by myself and there’s no other Janeite living anywhere near me that I know.

    I’ve heard mixed views about this film (and book) but there seems to be universal approval of Matt Smith as Mr. Collins. What did you think? As a huge Doctor Who (and sci-fi) fan as well as a Janeite myself, he’s a connection to both of my worlds of fandom.

    I’d love to see a dramatisation of The Darcys of Pemberley and Georgiana’s story as well!

  3. Sheila L. M. says:

    Claudine (JustJane1813 blog) and I went the same night when it was first released. We were texting each other before and after. There were only about 9 people total there. The couple near me had not read the P&P story and the man was there for the Zombie part of the story. I did tell her a little about the JAFF community and how the novel is at the top of the list of novels ever released in popularity. Maybe she’ll read it. I laughed out loud many times…the pond scene – you have to be kidding!!!

    I read all three books in that series and believe you are generous to give Seth 25% credit in his P&P&Zs re-telling. I only gave him 10% in my review of his book. The third book by Steve Hockensmith is the best of the three. I am not into any paranormal JAFF but was not going to be left out of the conversation I knew this film would generate. (I did read Mary Lydon Simonsen’s werewolf books after she convinced me that they were more of a love story and did really enjoy those.)

    I thought that the movie had much more potential than was used. I agree that Darcy left a lot to be desired and there was not chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth in the movie. I don’t watch Dr. No so was unfamiliar with that actor but he did bring a lot to his interpretation of Mr. Collins. (I did watch a few episodes of Dr. No a few years back at my daughter’s urging and it left me unimpressed. Not that I can watch it on Netflix I may try it again.)

    I do plan to buy the DVD just as I think my collection would be incomplete without every version of P&P or even of Jane Austen’s books in movie form.

    My husband would never go to see a film like this but his taste are similar to your husband’s. I believe the last film we viewed together was a James Bond movie.

    • justjane1813 says:

      I am so thankful Sheila and I watched it together, but in different states because we seemed to identify with the weak and better parts of the film. I wanted to love this movie, because, like most of us, I am crazy about JAFF! I hope the movie brings more readers to this subgenre that I adore so much.

      Steve Hockensmith, who wrote the prequel and sequel that Sheila discusses here, will be interviewed on my blog on Monday. I hope he gets a movie deal for his sequel and that the filmmakers improve the sequel based on the input from other viewers.

      But, with that said, I’d love to see lots of other JAFF stories make it to the screen as well. Fingers crossed that maybe we will reach this tipping point!!

    • We had the theater almost to ourselves too, although it was a matinee. Interesting that, as you discovered, the film is exposing new people to Jane Austen and P&P. That’s a positive thing. Good for you, spreading the gospel of Austen and JAFF to them!

      Since it’s been so long, I probably should have refreshed my memory on the book before trying to compare it to the movie. But honestly, I DO REMEMBER that didn’t like it well enough for a re-read. And I didn’t even know there were two more.

      Thanks for your comments, Sheila. 🙂

    • Susan Mason-Milks says:

      Are you talking about Dr. No (movie) or Dr. Who (the British TV series)?

  4. Sheila L. M. says:

    Yes, there are SO MANY books which would make a great movie. I would love to see your The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen made into a movie…surprise ending and all. But they don’t ask for my opinion, now do they?

  5. Susan Mason-Milks says:

    I didn’t like the book at all, but thought the movie was hilarious! My favorite part was the first proposal (too funny) and although I didn’t care for Darcy, I loved his long black leather coat.

    • Right, Susan!
      Sometime Darcy looked almost handsome… until he opened his mouth. Strange voice and nasty teeth. Occupational hazard of a former dental hygienist; I can’t help noticing the teeth. Might I suggest orthodontia and whitening? That would go a long ways.

      • Sheila L. M. says:

        I am glad someone else mentioned the teeth. That is one thing I notice immediately about actors and actresses. I did bring it up in one of my comments on another blog.

  6. deborahanne2 says:

    I saw it. I thought it had the best proposal/refusal scene between Darcy and Elizabeth

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