‘Tis the season for some zombies! Fa-la-la-la-la! La-la-la-la!
Undead fights, demonic follies! Fa-la-la-la-la! La-la-la-la!
Don we now our favorite weapons! Fa-la-la-la-la-la! La-la-la!
Here’s my all-time chopped up champions! Fa-la-la-la-la! SPOILER ALERTS!
5. Merle Dixon- THE WALKING DEAD
Okay, so Merle Dixon (played by Michael Rooker) and the word “champion” may not immediately come to mind. At best, he’s a racist misogynistic asshole. At worst, he’s a ruthless and bloodthirsty sociopath who was only really manageable when he was lapdog for the even bat-shit crazier Governor. But you gotta admit…he’s got balls. It takes quite a bit of gumption to slice off your own hand with a hacksaw just to escape handcuffs and flesh-craving Walkers. And what self-respecting zombie apocalypse survivor wouldn’t immediately weaponize himself with a nifty knife hand? And, over the course of Season 3 of THE WALKING DEAD, Merle eventually demonstrates nobler aspects of his personality such as sparing Michonne and coming to the aid of Rick’s group with his younger brother Daryl. In fact, Merle finds quasi-redemption through taking on his one-time boss, the Governor, in a one-on-one. Granted he loses, gets zombified and gets stabbed in the head (a mercy killing courtesy of his lil’ bro) but honestly…that’s about as heroic a send-off as you can have for the likes of Merle Dixon.
4. “Segen”- WORLD WAR Z
WORLD WAR Z may have given you a severe case of the “eh, it was okay”-it is, but there’s no doubt that one of the best characters in the film was the Israeli soldier known only as “Segen” (Daniella Kertesz) who accompanies Brad Pitt’s Gerry on his worldwide quest for a cure to the fast-spreading zombie epidemic. Along the way, she gets bitten and has her hand amputated by Gerry to keep her from being infected. You’d think that losing your hand would be enough to convince you to take a little shore leave. Not this chick! She instantly starts popping pain pills and is back in the game shooting the undead left and right and saving Gerry’s ass on more than one occasion. All the while, not once does she complain or whine about the unfairness of her situation. She’s stone cold and efficient throughout, surviving a plane crash and a round of hide and seek in a W.H.O. laboratory packed with zombies. She’s a faithful companion through and through. No weaponized appendages necessary for this lady. She is the weapon!
3. Cherry Darling- PLANET TERROR
Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling is a delight. She’s got killer looks, sultry-yet-adorable charm and a broken heart…oh, and her leg is ripped off by chemically-deformed cannibals nicknamed “sickos.” Kinda cuts into your livelihood as a go-go dancer when you’ve only got one leg. Needless to say, Cherry is not the happiest of campers in the first half of PLANET TERROR. One motivational speech/sex scene with her boyfriend later, she is ready to take on all challengers. She stabs melting would-be zombie rapist (Quentin Tarantino) in the eye with her splintered-off peg leg and receives the ultimate “going steady” present from her man El Wray: a prosthetic leg that’s also an M4 Carbine rifle with an M203 grenade launcher attachment! From there, the slaughtering is non-stop as Cherry blows her enemies away with heavy artillery and mad go-go skills to boot. Ultimately, it is Cherry who leads the last remnants of humanity to safety from the monstrous hordes all thanks to her beauty, resourcefulness and upgrade in the form of an M134 six-barreled machine gun! Keep on dancing, baby!
2. Black Panther- MARVEL ZOMBIES
Dude, T’Challa has had it rough. Not only was he one of the few remaining Marvel superheroes left uninfected by the zombie virus, but he was kept prisoner as a regular food supply for a zombified Giant-Man, losing an arm and a leg to his hunger (yes, even when he’s undead, Hank Pym’s still a complete and utter asshat). But the Black Panther endured, refusing to fall into the trope of being “that black guy who dies.” Much like Ben from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, T’Challa weathers through the worst of it and manages to escape and hook up with another group of survivors in Magneto’s Acolytes. It seems like a happy ending for the superhero with him even falling in love with an Acolyte and fathering a child. That is, until he is mortally wounded and is left with no other choice but to allow himself to be zombified by undead Avenger known as the Wasp. With her help, he is able to suppress his hunger for human flesh and emerges a stronger leader. Bad. Ass. Granted, he does eventually meet his end while trying to save a parallel Earth from a similar threat, but he retains his nobility to the very end. Despite the loss of his limbs and, eventually, his humanity, Black Panther goes down swinging for mankind. You’d better be taking notes, Walker Merle!
1. Ashley James “Ash” Williams- The EVIL DEAD Series
Come on. Did you really think that I could construct this list and not have Ash (and, essentially, Bruce Campbell) as the king of the mountain? He is the ultimate badass combatant against the demonic and undead forces. He can be as crass and off-putting as Merle one second and then as heroic and pragmatic as Segen the next. No doubt in my mind that before the events of PLANET TERROR, Cherry was taking several lessons in cool from Mr. Williams and his never-ending supply of quips and one-liners. He could teach T’Challa a thing or two about conquering your dark side…like make sure it manifests as an evil clone, so that you can punch it right in its stupid face! And when it comes to mutilation and losing your limbs for the greater good…well…Ash keeps it simple: demonic hand got you down? Slice that fucker clean off with a chainsaw. Then strap said chainsaw right on in place of it for a bloody good time! Sure, the situation may seem bleak or terrifying, but what makes Ash the reigning champ is that when he deals with shit, it’s hilarious. Whether he’s receiving punishment or dishing it out, Ash finds a way to keep things entertaining and thus makes the EVIL DEAD films a high priority for revisiting this time of year. Here’s hoping that if the proposed EVIL DEAD TV show makes it to series, we’ll have Campbell’s Ash back with all his charm, swagger and chainsaw hand.
Hail to the King, baby…
Didn’t mention your favorite brawler against the undead in the list above? Let me know in the comments who your Top 5 Mutilated Champions would be!