So there I am, watching TV with my girlfriend Adrienne, when a Windows 7 commercial comes on. (See clip below.) A young gamer named David declares that while “mowing down zombies is cool and all, I kind of want to know what they’re like — on the inside.” The sales pitch? With Windows 7, he can stream wirelessly from his PC to his big HD TV while visiting the “Zombie Companion” website to watch a documentary in which a zombie “bonds” with a shark in the ocean.
I look at the clip he’s checking out and think, “Hey, I’ve seen that before. I own that movie!” Yes, Microsoft actually licensed the memorable underwater battle/shark wrestling sequence from Lucio Fulci‘s low budget masterpiece Zombie. Underground cult horror movies really have hit the big time.
Perhaps some purists might get upset over the fact that the footage has been given a cute voiceover to make it sound like a Discovery Channel documentary, although initial online comments indicate general happiness from many within the horror community over the clip’s usage. Sure, Microsoft changed the context of the footage, but if it gets people interested in the film, that’s a good thing. Zombies are hip again, and this is one of the best genre movies ever made. (I don’t know whether or not any licensing fees will make their way back to Fulci’s estate or the companies holding the home video rights, but here’s hoping.) And the scene itself is pretty damn impressive, especially considering that this was a movie made with limited means. I have proclaimed that the stunt man showed a lot of guts to do this; my girlfriend jokes that maybe he really needed the gig. Either way, it makes for great cinema, whether in 1979 or now.
Music and film licensing is always a contentious issue. Some rockers have undoubtedly rolled their eyes at hearing bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith used in car commercials, and many Fred Astaire fans were appalled at the use of his image (posthumously) in Dirt Devil vacuum commercials. It’s a fine line to walk; or on this case, shamble along. But with so few indie movies ever attaining this kind of recognition, I think it’s great to see the Fulci scene hit mass media. Of course, the Windows 7 clip does not reference the title of the film, so whether or not we’ll see a spike in Zombie‘s sales remains to be seen. It is currently #13,247 on Amazon.com’s Top Movie and TV titles; yesterday it was at #8,007. Who knows? Younger horror fans may wonder, “Where is that cool sequence from?” And seek it out. The Internet is a wonderful tool for finding things. (This situation also begs the larger question, “Is Bill Gates a closet Fulci fan?”)
This is the biggest exposure that a Fulci film has ever gotten. At least the advertising gurus behind this campaign showed some taste and understanding of the genre they were parodying. Let’s hope it creates a nice ripple effect back to the underground.