Continuing on from the previous entry in this series right here, this article will go over the next set of stages in Zombies Ate My Neighbors to try to root out the sources that they reference through the tongue in cheek titles of the multitude of levels that the player runs through with Zeke and Julie, our hapless heroes.
So once again, buckle up and sit back for round two, as I scour the internet to figure out what corners of pop culture have been explored in one of my favorite games of all time.
Level 12 – Mars Needs Cheerleaders
Starting off strong with a reference that isn’t hard to dig up, Mars Needs Cheerleaders references a movie from 1967 called Mars Needs Women. While it is not much of a horror movie based on its premise, it still falls directly into the guidelines.
In the story, the women of Mars are only producing male offspring, meaning that their race is waning regarding population. A group of Martians make a pilgrimage to Earth to find viable women to bring back to their planet, which should rectify the situation. Of course, given the time period, this is justified by the aliens hypnotizing the women to come back with them. Also, there is a group of men who are attempting to stop the plan from unfolding. From what it appears, the movie was not distributed to theaters, but it did find a cult following on late-night television.
Bonus Level – Cheerleaders vs. The Monsters
The reference for this level is difficult to pin down. The 1960s saw a boom in movies where one entity, usually benign, found themselves in a ‘versus’ match with another entity, usually malevolent. While Cheerleaders vs. The Monsters doesn’t reference a particular movie, the trend brings up a lot of interesting films: The Navy vs. The Night Creatures, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, and various other combinations.
The trend has continued over the years, so the possibilities are vast regarding what this could be referencing, if anything. In reality, it is probably just spoofing the ‘vs.’ trend in general, which has been a trope in horror and sci-fi films for a while.
Level 13 – Chopping Mall
Some of the references in the game are actually just dead-on name drops from films. Chopping Mall falls into that category, as the title comes from a horror movie from 1986,
originally entitled Killbots.
When a group of friends decide to hide out and spend the night in a closed down mall (which is a more common theme in horror movies than I ever gave it credit for), they run into problems with the ultra-high tech security system that has been recently installed. When the system goes on the fritz, the teenagers need to fight for their lives to escape. The movie is fun twist on the slasher craze of the 80s, and in September of this year, it was released on Blu-Ray, confirming its cult status.
Level 14 – Seven Meals for Seven Zombies
Unlike Chopping Mall, Seven Meals for Seven Zombies comes out of left-field with its source material, considering the game itself and its tone. Thankfully, the title itself made it very easy to find the source of the strange nod.
In 1954, a musical named Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was released. The premise of the musical was that a man, one of seven brothers, becomes engaged to a young woman who is not quite like his woodsy kin. She decides to temper his brash brothers to become eligible bachelors, which results in them kidnapping six local women to marry. The resulting fallout from these happenings make up the rest of the film.
Despite the fact that this sounds like a horror film, it is quite the opposite. As a fun fact, Julie Newmar, who some may know as Catwoman in the old Batman series, also played a role in the film, as she was also a classically trained dancer and performer.
Level 15 – Dinner on Monster Island
Dinner on Monster Island, at its roots, references back to a Jules Verne novel called “Godfrey Morgan: A Californian Mystery”. This one is a long road, but follow me here.
In the story, a young man (Godfrey Morgan, of the title) finds himself in a position where he is marooned on an island after abandoning ship on the sea and must learn to survive in the wilds. In his ventures, he must deal with, among other tribulations, the indigenous people of the island who treat him with hostility.
In 1981, the book was adapted into a film called Mystery on Monster Island, and the film incorporated a new element of adding monsters to the island that the main character ends up on. Why this change was made is unclear, at least without further research, but it was most likely an effort to keep up with the times of entertainment and liven the production up.
Level 16 – Ants
Another vague level title that makes this venture difficult, Ants pretty much sums up the new enemy in the game as the giant ants that you’ll face in this part of the game. Sadly, this lends little to be gleaned in the way of source materials.
That said, the 80s had plenty of other insect related horror movies. Mosquito, Ticks, and many others. The closest thing that I can find in reference to this in particular might be the 1954 film, Them!, wherein a colony of ants that has been subject to atomic exposure becomes giant and terrorizes a community. Both titles contain one word and both have to do with giant ants running amok. I’d have to say that’s about as close as we can get to the source on this one.
Level 17 – Office of the Doomed
With the lack of office related horror movies, it would be assumed that finding the source of this one may be easy. This was not exactly the case, but a quick search for Office of the Doomed relayed back to pretty much one source: a horror movie from 1976 called Mansion
of the Doomed starring, among others, sci-fi and horror legend Lance Henriksen. Judging by the inability to connect the title to anything else office related aside from the word ‘office’, I’m going to have to believe this was the source.
While there isn’t much more to this movie to be looked up, it appears that the movie revolves around a Dr. Chaney (in a clear horror nod in and of itself) who, after his daughter loses her eyesight in an accident, begins to forcibly take eyes from others to transplant them for her. Like many others that will come up in this list, it appears that this somewhat shocking and crude film has cemented a place in horror history, despite not being a well known title in and of itself.
Bonus Level – Someplace Very Warm
This is the first dip in quality on this particular list. While Someplace Very Warm definitely alludes to someplace in particular- namely Hell- and the level looks succinctly like a volcano. Once again, I cannot find a title that alludes to the conventions of this one, and while there are some volcano-centric movies out there, none of them sound much like this title.
Level 18 – Squidmen of the Deep
Along the same lines as Office of the Doomed, Squidmen of the Deep is derived from a widely perceived to be contrived movie. Humanoids from the Deep was a horror movie that was produced in 1980 and involves a small community in California (California apparently being a very easy to reference state) being terrorized by creatures that begin to appear from the waters.
Due to the way the movie plays out and how the humanoids ravage the town- specifically the women- the movie is known in many circles for having an anti-female slant and many scenes that held up to the director’s vision of the beings killing all of the men and ravaging all of the women. Needless to say, Roger Corman’s vision came through, though the production drew the ire of many outside of said production.
Level 19 – Nightmare on Terror Street
This reference should take no effort to any fan of the horror genre. Nightmare on Terror Street is clearly a strong nudge in the direction of Nightmare on Elm Street, the prolific series starring the nightmare treading Freddy Krueger that began in 1984. Ironically, while
there are analogues for horror villains that don’t have titles referenced in the game (Jason Voorhees, Chucky, etc.), Freddy does not have one, save for this reference.
For those unfamiliar, Nightmare on Elm Street follows the goings on in Springwood, a small community that has a dark history thanks to the vigilante justice exacted by the parents of children accosted by Freddy Krueger, a janitor at the local high school. Once he has burned to death, he begins appearing in nightmares to the teenagers in town and killing them through their fears. If they die in their dream, they die in real life. The movie became popular enough for a deluge of merchandise and media offshoots, so more than likely, if you’re playing this game, you’ve heard of these movies.
Level 20 – Invasion of the Snakeoids
Unfortunately, nothing that I have found in my travels equates well enough to Invasion of the Snakeoids to make me feel comfortable with saying “I’m sure about this.”
The closest pop culture reference I could find that fit the criteria that has already been set out is the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a remake of the original. Beyond the “Invasion of…” titles, however, there do not seem to be any similarities. In Body Snatchers, a community is being plagued with reports of strange behavior, and it appears that these people are being replaced by things that look identical to them but are different in a very dangerous way. The film stars Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum, and it has had a remake or two since the original inception.
Again, it is hard to connect this level to this source, but when most horror fans think of “Invasion of”, the usual ending to that is “Body Snatchers”, so I’m hoping this loose relation will suffice for now.
Level 21 – The Day the Earth Ran Away
Due to a remake a few years back, the source for The Day the Earth Ran Away is fairly well known. Drawing from The Day the Earth Stood Still, a film from 1951 revolving around the arrival of aliens on Earth. Based on a novel called Farewell to the Master, these aliens arrive to Earth for a very important purpose.
Throughout the story as it unfolds, the alien, Klaatu, attempts to deliver the message but meets resistance and, depending on the source, is wounded and must heal or is killed by a madman. Inevitably, the message is received that the rest of the universe believes that Earth is too dangerous and they are warned against spreading throughout the universe any further.
Level 22 – Revenge of Dr. Tongue
In the Zombies Ate My Neighbors universe, Dr. Tongue very much appears to be Dr. Frankenstein, as stated in the last list of levels. While the original level that Dr. Tongue
appeared in did not reference a Frankenstein film, this one does.
Revenge of Frankenstein was produced in 1958, and it follows along with the now renamed Dr. Stein after he evades execution by replacing himself with a priest. Going on to practice his old habits again, he creates a better creature, and of course, terror ensues. Of course, once Baron Frankenstein is discovered to still be alive, things go from bad to worse.
This entry in the Frankenstein mythos is widely regarded as a competent effort and one of the best entries of the series.
Bonus Level – The Son of Dr. Tongue
Continuing on with the Frankenstein references, The Son of Dr. Tongue follows the trend by referring to Son of Frankenstein, the 1939 follow up to Bride of Frankenstein and the third in the original Universal Monster series.
In the film, Baron von Frankenstein’s son decides to relocate his family to the castle of his father where he finds the corpse of the creature that his father had spent his life’s work on. He begins to work on the creature to restore honor to his family’s name and prove his work correct. Unfortunately, this ends with more havoc and carnage, which must be taken care of by the Frankenstein family.
Thus ends part two of this venture into the depths of Zombies Ate My Neighbors and the most likely suspects for some of the inspiration for the game and its levels. A few less hiccups in the road, but there are definitely some stretches that, if anything, have introduced me to some interesting new materials that I wouldn’t mind checking out.
Stay tuned for part three!