A career Austenite from the first time I read Emma when I was 14, I’ve always believed that Jane Austen novels have everything a reader could be looking for. Well, I was wrong. The only thing missing from the Austen canon was the wrath of the undead. I’m talking zombies. Fortunately, that oversight was remedied when a bloody literary take on the novel was published by a small press in 2009. The film version of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies comes out in theaters on Feb. 5 and stars Cinderella actress Lily James as feminist icon Elizabeth Bennet. And I don’t think I’ll ever look at Mr. Darcy or Lizzie's sisters the same way ever again.
But I won’t go so far as to say that Pride & Prejudice & Zombies improves upon the original text. Pride & Prejudice is a perfect novel on its own, one that’s stood the test of time and been the subject of dozens of adaptations and sequels. Still, it just makes sense that someone (originally, writer Seth Grahame-Smith) would eventually interpret Elizabeth Bennet and her siblings as warriors; being a single woman of meager fortune in Austen’s day was already a special kind of heroism. Austen sticklers might cringe at this gory version of events, but I personally can’t wait to see the citizens of Meryton defend their village against the undead with their elite ninja training. (How many books on a high school reading list can say they’ve inspired a movie like that?) And there's room enough for both versions. Here are a few key places where Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and the original Pride & Prejudice differ.
Pride & Prejudice: A Lady Must Take Music Lessons
How else will she entertain her guests? A lady must also be able to draw and speak at least one Romance language, should she wish to catch a tolerable husband.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: A Lady Must Take Sword Fighting Lessons
Who's got time for courting when the apocalypse is at your door? It's kill or be killed for these women, and they're certainly not going to waste valuable training time loafing around at the piano-forte.
Pride & Prejudice: A Ball Is An Occasion For Polite Conversation
But keep it demure, lest gossip start to spread that you're not the lady your parents would like you to be.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: A Ball Is An Occasion To Display One's Zombie-Killing Prowess
Letting the invading zombies kill all the guests is an obvious party foul. Plus, your skill with a blade might catch an eligible man's eye.
Pride & Prejudice: What's Under That Gown? Modest Undergarments
And lots of 'em!
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: What's Under That Gown? A Garter Holster
Sexy and efficient. And totally invisible under all those petticoats.
Pride & Prejudice: Darcy Is Quiet But Thoughtful
Canon Mr. Darcy says that he is quiet in company, because he is "ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers."
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Darcy Is Quiet But Deadly
Zombies' Mr. Darcy is quiet in company because he's silently working out who in the room might have been bitten and how quickly he could leap over the table and cut off their heads. You know, if it came down to it.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is the horror adaptation adventurous Austen fans have been waiting for. But the traditional version will always be there to fall back on.