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The new film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features a large number of sequences where hordes of the undead rush in to get a helping of brains, but it’s really not an overly gore-y film. Sure, characters get dismembered and torn apart, but there isn’t anything near as graphic as anything you’d see on any given episode of The Walking Dead. So why pull back on the disgusting bits? Essentially writer/director Burr Steers simply felt that it would actually make the movie more terrifying to let the audience just use their imaginations.
I talked about this with the filmmaker one-on-one during a recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies press day held in Los Angeles – the subject coming up when I asked about the film’s PG-13 rating and whether or not an R-rating had ever been pursued. Steers revealed that the financiers originally wanted a more blood-and-guts filled movie, but that he pushed for the film to get the lower rating (he noted that there was a time when it was considered to have an R-rated version for America, and a PG-13 cut to go international). Discussing the need to pull back in order to achieve his vision for the film, the director explained,
One of the things that you do pull back. Blood is a big issue for [the MPAA], but there are things you imply and you use your imagination as opposed to just show graphically. There’s this very schmaltzy aesthetic where everyone wants to see this sort of gurgling blood, but it’s not frightening anymore!
Of course, PG-13 rated zombie movies are hardly the norm, but we have seen a few pop up in the last few years. One, for example, was the Brad Pitt-starring World War Z (which still got scares without any blood), and it was also just a few years ago that we saw Jonathan Levine’s great zom-rom-com Warm Bodies (which traded eww for aww). Gore has certainly been a big part of the undead genre for many decades, but a different approach can understandably negate it. Rather than soaking sets with blood, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies plays up a different classic element of zombie horror, socio/political commentary - this time in Regency Period, England.
Do you think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should have gone with an R-rating, or are you happy that it’s a PG-13? Would more blood and guts have helped you enjoy the film more, or do you think they would have just have been an unwelcome distraction? Hit the comments section with your thoughts on the matter, and check out the Burr Steers-directed period zombie horror film in theaters now.