Here we are, game and pop culture fans. This is the final entry in the “Where Did That Come From?” series for Zombies Ate My Neighbors. It’s been a long ride, and hopefully it’s been an entertaining one.
There have been a lot of different origins to dig through and thankfully, mostly through the magic of Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database, I’ve made a sizable dent at reaching my goal of chronicling the many nods and pokes at multimedia sources and gotten them together in one series of articles.
Let’s embark, now, on the final stretch of research that I managed to eke out of the corners of entertainment history to detail Zombies Ate My Neighbors!
Level 36 – Monster Phobia
While phobias are a fairly well-known term- having the fear of something- Monster Phobia is actually not the name of the fear of monsters. Fun fact: the term for the fear of monsters is actually ‘teraphobia’. In the context of this game, however, the reference for the game most likely is referencing the 1990 comedy-horror movie Arachnophobia.
Starring John Goodman and Jeff Daniels, Arachnophobia’s plot is not unlike half of the horror movies we’ve already discussed in this feature. When a new species of spider is brought into a small town in California, it breeds into a new breed of spider with the local wildlife and starts to kill off the inhabitants of the town. While the movie seems to bill itself as being pretty serious, it actually has quite a bit of humor in it. It also had some well-known film legends such as Steven Spielberg, Garry Marshall, and Julian Sands involved in its production.
Level 37 – Labyrinth of Horrors
Depending on just how nerdy or obscure you feel like being, Labyrinth of Horrors can actually have two sources to look to, neither of which is incredibly well documented on the Internet for various reasons.
The first potential source is a silent film from Austria made in 1921 titled, obviously enough, Labyrinth of Horror. The title, from what little I can find, seems misleading, however, as the plot seems to center around a man who is supposed to marry a woman but has feelings for another woman. Then, the woman he actually loves is in a railway accident of some kind; it all sounds much more ‘drama’ than ‘horror’.
The second- and possibly more likely inspiration- is from a Dungeons & Dragons module called “Tomb of Horrors”. In this module, the characters that the players make up go through a near impossible tomb to find difficult monsters and a vast multitude of traps that will instantly kill them, some even coming as a result of ‘doing the right thing’. Most people who have played this module will not discern everything about it, so without actually reading it, you kind of have to imagine the frustration of it.
Level 38 – Monsters of the Blue Lagoon
Hey, look! A super easy reference that just about every horror fan will know!
Monsters of the Blue Lagoon quite clearly takes its inspiration from the 1954 black-and-white monster movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, a classic piece from the Universal horror pictures of the time.
The movie follows a group of scientists who discover remains that lead to a suspicion that there could have been some kind of ‘web footed humanoid’ in a certain part of the world. Setting up a voyage to the area in question, the crew ends up running across the presence of a real-life fish-man who begins to terrorize them, trying to keep them in its lair and killing many of the expedition before they escape.
Level 39 – Destroy All Vampires
Destroy All Vampires seems like another pretty easy reference to pick up and, to be honest, it was- but it did not come from a place I expected or recalled until I looked it up.
In 1987, the cult classic vampire movie, The Lost Boys, was released in theaters. Starring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim along with Kiefer Sutherland, the film unfolds around the story of a group of friends trying to rescue people that they know from a local gang of vampires. It brings some good cheesy fun to the table, and part of that fun is that there is a comic book series that the characters read called “Destroy All Vampires”. The characters in the movie use it as a guide for how to kill vampires in their quest to save their loved ones.
Level 40 – Pyramid of Fear Two
As much as I hate to say it, Pyramid of Fear Two may have just been a lazy play for the developers to get another pyramid level into the game. The original source material from Pyramid of Fear did not have a sequel of any kind.
Sorry to disappoint, but this one seems like a dead end.
Level 41 – Martians! Go Home!
Once again, drawing straight from another source, Martians! Go Home! is actually the title
of a 1955 novel and, more famously, a 1990 film starring Randy Quaid.
In the novel and movie both, a novelist, in attempts to inspire himself onto his next great work after his recent divorce, decides to sequester himself away to write and get some peace and quiet. After a time, he is visited by a Martian who really just seems to want to insult him and cause chaos on Earth. While in the novel, it sounds like it was only the main character and the Martian involved, the film appears to have had various stand-up comedians of the time taking the roles of the Martians, though none of which are households names at this point.
Level 42 – Spikes
Then we hit another roadblock.
Spikes, for all intents and purposes, is probably the least easy to reference level in the entire game. It is aptly named- the entire level is covered in spikes that rise and fall as you try to save people. That said- where do you go for a reference to ‘spikes’? For the life of me, I can’t even think of a movie that made spikes famous for any reason.
Seriously, if anyone can figure out even a slight resemblance to a piece of media for this, please let me know.
Level 43 – Super Fund Clean-Up Site
Yet another entry that is basic and has pretty much no basis to be found from pop culture. With that, the level pretty much explains itself in the description.
The Superfund- an actual name for a government fund, mind you- helps to fund the cleanup of toxic spills and contaminated sites, and it was created in 1980 to a fairly useful effect.
So there’s your history lesson for the day.
Level 44 – The Curse of Dr. Tongue
After that short draught in information, though, Dr. Tongue comes to the rescue. With the next entry being The Curse of Dr. Tongue, I took a chance and looked into a movie called The Curse of Frankenstein. Thankfully, a film by that name was produced in 1957 and starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
While this movie does have the Frankenstein name, it appears to be the first of the color films produced by Hammer Studios. The movie picks up with Frankenstein inheriting the family estate and hiring a tutor. Between the two of them, they creature their own creature who winds up committing a murder before being taken care of. Other nefarious things happen due to people using the creature to their own ends, but in the end, Baron von Frankenstein is taken to the guillotine. Considering there are many sequels to this film afterward, however, it is probably safe to assume that this doesn’t end up with the man being executed for the murders he has been accused of.
Level 45 – Danger in Picnic Park
Yet again drawing from darker than expected places, Danger in Picnic Park actually pulls the inspiration from a film from 1971 that while well regarded is not actually that well known in this day and age.
The Panic in Needle Park is a film starring Al Pacino as a heroin addict who entices a young woman into his addiction, involving them in a romantic entanglement that goes on throughout the movie. As the movie progresses, their lives steadily go downhill in a way that most critics regarded as realistic and gritty. While Needle Park was a real nickname for a place in New York at the time, it does not appear to be active at this point, but it increased the weight of the film’s premise.
Also, as a random fact, this movie included Raul Julia in its cast, who many readers may remember as Gomez Addams from The Addams Family movies and whose final film was a video game movie, Street Fighter, in which he played the lead villain, M. Bison.
Level 46 – Day of the Chainsaw
Before we get into how this is another fairly common pop culture reference (and one that is pretty much replicating an entry from back in the beginning of the game), it is worth noting that much like Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem from way back when, this title had to be changed in the European release so as not to include chainsaws since there were none. In the version, this level was actually called Day of the Lumberjack which your mileage might vary with.
There are so many titles, however, that Day of the Chainsaw could have come from. Top choices include Day of the Dead, the third in George A Romero’s Living Dead series, Day of the Triffids, a horror movie where meteors crash to earth and unleash killer plants on the now blind populace, or Day of the Animals, a film about a psychosis brought on by the depletion of the ozone layer which drives animals mad.
I’m not a betting man, however, so you can feel free to choose whichever of those references you want. If something better comes up- maybe even something to do with chainsaws- I’d certainly be interested in being pointed in the right direction!
Level 47 – Gridiron Terror
I learned a few things while I tried to find a source for Gridiron Terror.
First of all, there are very few sports-based horror movies. There are, however, many references to the ‘gridiron’ in other media depicting football. The term is fairly common actually.
This is pretty much predominantly in America and Canada. Given that football conjures up different images depending on the country you inhabit, the actual version of football on our shores is called ‘gridiron football’ as that is the type of field it is played on. Since that is also the type of field the football levels take place on, it makes sense that the title would remain the same in both versions of the game.
Oh, and there is no real ‘reference’ here, per se. A ‘gridiron terror’ is a term for someone who is really good at North American football.
Level 48 – Curse of the Tongue
Not only does Curse of the Tongue sound almost exactly like another level only three or four entries ago, but it is the third or fourth title that references ‘curses’ in general. Imagine my surprise, then, to find something that actually kind of fits the good Dr. Tongue’s tone and is a classic horror movie.
Curse of the Swamp Creature, a 1966 horror film, takes places in the swamps of Texas where a mad scientist is conducting experiments to learn how to ‘backwards evolutionize’ human beings. When a group of people happen across his property, he decides to use his procured data to finish his experiments and make a perfect “fish man” as a result of his work.
Credits Level – Monsters Among Us
The last level of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, for those not familiar, is actually a level where you can walk around and ‘meet’ the staff and crew that put the game together, all depicted as some kind of monster in an office themed environment. Monsters Among Us sounds so cool that it has been used in plenty of pop culture- in 2015 and 2016.
Finding something that has to do with monsters relating to the ‘among us’ theme wasn’t easy. The closest thing that I could find was another movie having to do with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The third and final film in the series is called The Creature Walks Among Us, and it takes place after the creatures escapes to the Everglades. Somehow, through various means, somehow begins to develop human physiology. After being blamed for a murder, the Creature goes on a rampage, eventually returning to the sea.
With that, we have hit the end of the road in examining Zombies Ate My Neighbors. There may be a few potholes and a few oddly named exits, but there have also been a lot of lights shed on some obscure titles and concepts that most likely helped shape the game at its finished product. The game is clearly a product of its time that, unlike most media, managed to transcend the common pitfalls that surround other products that have the same mark on them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go play through this game again and look up some old horror movies I might have missed over the years.