You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘zombies’ category.
Happy Hump-day from unDeathMatch!
Jack Barnes is no ordinary zombie. He can think, but more importantly, he can write. He is sure that the human race and the zombie race can live together peacefully and so he sets out on a cross country adventure to find Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie curse.
Along the way, Jack meets a group of “super” zombies who can run like the wind and reattach decaying appendages among other skills. Together they embark on an epic quest for zombie equality!
Watch the trailer:
Back in 2008, someone suggested that the horde of zombie movies was losing ground to a clan of vampire flicks in some kind of sociological class warfare allegory. It was an interesting observation, but we paranormal authors know better than to play Freakonomics with the undead.
Supernatural trends are clearly about the romance!
Take vampires, for example. They say only a vampire can love you forever — excepting angels, demons, and a plethora of other immortals, natch — but the thrill doesn’t stop there! Tall, dark, and handsome? Check. Hungry, passionate longing with a hint of danger? Double-check. Of course, California tans and sunset walks on the beach are right out, but with that list of Class-A features does anyone really think we’re reading about vampires because of subconscious political metaphors?
Of course not! We read about vampires because we want a boyfriend who went to high school with great-grandpa, but still looks like Rob Pattinson.
Same deal with zombies: what girl doesn’t want a man who can appreciate her for her brains? And with the advent of cologne and duct tape, even that pesky decay problem is no obstacle to true love with these monosyllabic shamblers!
In the last two years, even zombies and vampires have given up ground to an advancing army of paranormals. Werewolves, for example, are all the rage! Loyal, rugged men who will definitely keep you warm at night. Let’s face it — everyone is furry for Jacob. Granted, these boys have a time of the month that goes way beyond cranky, and don’t get me started on the state of the soap after they shower . . . but really, who’s perfect?
Why stop there? Sooner or later, someone will realize that vampires, zombies, and werewolves all have one thing in common: ear-nibbling is out, and that just bites. Instead, why not date a faerie? Ethereal beauty, a love of the outdoors, and a wicked sense of humor all come together in this perfect pixie package. They can be a little flighty, it’s true, but once they’re bound to you, they’re bound for life. Make sure you ask what his real name is on your first date. Trust me, that’s information worth worming out of him.
Those paranormals a little too much to handle? Maybe a wizard or warlock is more up your alley. Human enough to fit in as the boy next door, these guys can spoil you better than any millionaire, with a wave of their magic wand — assuming they can see past the end of it. But watch for prejudiced magicians who might turn their back on you if they discover you’re kind of Muggle-y.
Still haven’t found your perfect match? Don’t worry! We’re not done yet! There are demons (the ultimate bad boys), angels (a little pious but oh so sparkly!) necromancers (very helpful should you succumb to the bad guy!) . . . even Cthulu has probably taken out a personal ad from time to time (he’ll eat you up he loves you so).
So you judge. Is our fascination with the supernatural based on obscure and subconscious social leanings? Bah! Clearly, all you need is love.
I will admit that zombies are probably my least favourite of the undead. (Sorry Dan!) I’ve watched a handful of movies that were OK, but I’d take angels, vampires or werewolves over zombies any day. And so, I’ve never read much in the way of zombie lit. But these books caught my eye, and I have to say, I much prefer reading about zombies to watching zombies.
The world as it exists in Carrie Ryan’s novels would be a terrifying place. Civilization has pretty much fallen and in it’s place is an expansive forest with a small villages sprinkled inside. There is a fence to separate the forest from the people because in the forest there are zombies. All day, every day, zombies all around. The author does a good job of reminding you that they are there, relentlessly moaning, grabbing, and biting, trying to infect more people.
Against that backdrop, both The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-tossed Waves are really coming-of-age-and-falling-in-love-stories. These are incredibly brave, yet naive characters whose transition into adulthood is punctuated with death and violence in the form of zombie hordes. And it works very well. All the drama and tension of young love, plus terrifying zombie attacks!
What I liked best about these books were the main characters. Mary and Gabry are both intelligent and independent without being pretentious. They make mistakes and they learn from them. They are often terrified, yet they press on and fight when they need to to save the people they love most in the world – sometimes they win, and sometimes, they lose someone to the zombies. They are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff in these books! (Oh man, there is an escape sequence from a tree-house village in the first book that is intense. Ditto for the ending of Dead-tossed Waves – intense!)
I’m really hoping for at least a third book – there is definitely more to this story!
Today is your last chance to vote in our vampire vs. zombie poll, and so inspired by Deanna’s movie list (and in one final desperate attempt to save my sinking undead ass) here’s my 15 (count ’em!) reasons to vote zombie (BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!)…
- Zombie Walks: Healthy fun for all the family. Ever heard of “Vampire Walk”? No. Because vampires have no friends and it would be rubbish.
- Chainsaws: What kills zombies? POWER TOOLS. What kills vampires? Wooden stakes. WTF? Where’s the fun in that?
- Zombie Bikini Babes from Outer Space iPhone App: Zombies. Girls in bikinis. And throwing shit. What have you got Dracula? Oh, “a cape”. Nice.
- Marvel Zombies: Written by Robert Kirkman, author of The Walking Dead (another good reason to vote zombie), and with a plot more complicated that cannot possibly be explained in a sentence, all you really need to know is that in an alternate universe the Marvel heroes you know and love are flesh-hungry zombies (and they eat The Silver Surfer m’f@ckr!). ‘Nuff said.
- The “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” scene in Shaun of the Dead: Old Skool 1980’s hip hop references AND zombies. What else do you want?
- The record throwing scene in Shaun of the Dead: ‘Purple Rain’? No. ‘Sign o’ the Times’? Definitely not. The ‘Batman’ soundtrack? Throw it. Genius. Name one even remotely funny vampire movie. JUST ONE. Vampires = not a good time.
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: ignore all those new literary bandwagon-jumping vampire mash-ups. P+P+Z was the original literary Jane Austen horror remix.
- George A. Romero‘s “Living Dead” films: Dude. They’ve defined horror movies for like 40 years (Night of the Living Dead was made in 1968. NINETEEN-SIXTY-EIGHT!). And apparently George A. Romero is writing two zombie novels for Grand Central Publishing. Oh yeah.
- Thriller: The 14 minute Michael Jackson music video directed by John Landis (director of the awesome An American Werewolf in London – see below) is proof that zombies CAN dance. Did I mention it also includes not a rap by Vincent Price? Vincent F@cking Price.
- Resident Evil: The video game even I’ve heard off. Capcom’s zombie-riffic survival horror game — arguably one the most influential games of all time — that has now spawned several sequels, not to mention movies, novels, comics and action figures. Any vampire video games done that? Uh-uh.
- Emperor Zombie: The scene-stealing evil genius in the awesome 2002 comic The Amazing Screw-On Head by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola (published by Dark Horse) and the v. cool TV pilot adaptation created for the Sci-Fi Channel in 2006. Emperor Zombie (voiced by Frasier’s David Hyde-Pierce in the TV pilot) has a “petty vengeance fetish” and plots to take over the world. With a turnip. Oh, and in a nice twist, Emperor Zombie has a vampire sidekick.
- Frankenstein’s Monster: Mary Shelley’s reanimated corpse has had more influence on modern horror than any other fictional character than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But what makes Frankenstein’s monster more important than fang-face is that Shelley was actually making a point about modern science or something. Bram Stoker was just… I don’t know… writing some shit. Is Frankenstein’s monster actually a zombie? Well, you could say it’s debatable. I would say “hell yeah”.
- A Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen!
- Nazi Zombies: What’s worse than the undead? NAZI undead. If I remember one thing about watching John Landis’ An American Wolf in London as a teenager (apart from Jenny Agutter), it is the trauma-inducing Nazi zombies, and – oh dear god – and they recently made a comeback in Swedish horror movie Dead Snow. Truly. F@cking. Terrifying.
- Zombies aren’t vampires
As UnDeath Match: Vampires Vs. Zombies enters its last week, it looks like that the zombies are done for. Despite my best efforts, vampires are leading our poll 59% to the zombies 41% at the time of writing.
WTF people? Really?
Apparently there are a lot of shallow people who hate Canada and women, and secretly (or not so secretly) want to sleep with gay men (while sipping on your pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks).
I can’t say I’m not disappointed and I hope all that everyone who voted for kitten-eating vampires instead of the humble (dare I say cuddly?) zombie, is feeling quietly ashamed of themselves.
You all suck… (Did you see what I did there? Oh never mind…).
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this off just yet. There are still a few days left and as we all know, our zombie friends are remarkably resilient even if they don’t have a leg to stand on… So come on then, we’ll bite your arm off…
Vote Zombie! Polls close Friday October 30th.
Note: I’ve previously discussed this book over at My Tragic Right Hip.
If the pure reason for writing a literary mash up like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is entertainment, then Seth Grahame-Smith accomplished his goals. It’s no literary masterpiece and it certainly doesn’t come anywhere close to being remotely as good as the original, but, well, I can’t deny that it made me laugh once or twice. The novel doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think that’s its saving grace.
If Grahame-Smith had come at this with the attitude of actually thinking he’d improve upon Austen, well, he would have failed miserably. One of the most interesting reviews I read in passing over the summer said something like the book would have been better had the author actually liked Austen’s original (I have no idea where I read this; so please correct me if I’ve gotten it completely wrong). I’d even go a bit further and say that there’s a definite misunderstanding of the time and customs in P+P+Z, and they’re often subverted so that the plot, those mash up aspects, can be clumsily inserted.
That said, the book read more like a current movie adaptation of Austen’s novel than anything else. In fact, entire sections of dialogue read almost verbatim to the Keira Knightley version (yes, I’ve seen it enough times to know), which sort of made the whole enterprise a little more palatable for me. Grahame-Smith got quite a few things wrong — the shrill nature of his Mrs. Bennett doesn’t have any of the savvy humour from the original, and Elizabeth seems to share a lot of her inner thoughts in ways that would have made the original Lizzie cringe (and the whole scene where she almost chops off one of her sister’s heads was just ridiculous).
But in terms of The Undeath Match, it’s hard to compare this book to The Strain. If I’m here to smack it down, as I’m supposed to, I’d say that the “unmentionables” are not remotely as scary as a vampire with a probing half-jaw/half-tongue thingy that ejects from their mouths to suck your blood. They seem to be easily dispensed of and seemingly endless, which I guess is the point of zombies. But, yawn, in terms of the endless discussion of different fighting techniques, and double yawn, in terms of the faux “battle of the sexes” stuff between Elizabeth and Darcy — this definitely works far better in the original and as it was intended to be read. However, the last scene pivotal fight scene, and I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, is truly awesome. And I can’t really criticize it at all, actually.
I suppose there’s something to be said about keeping up what is kind of a joke of a premise on a semi-serious level throughout the book. But doesn’t it fall flat? There’s no emotional currency running through the book added by the zombies. I mean, other than Charlotte (and gross, gross, gross), not a single character is truly affected by their presence. They’re almost like members of the lower classes — forgotten until they get in your way on the road from one estate to the other. In The Strain, the vampire-like creatures provide a very real and very sustained threat to the life and livelihood of the main characters, there’s something at stake, there’s a reason to be fighting them. And trying to fold “fighting skills” into the ideals of the time, the education of women and the idea that to be considered of consequence you must have excellent skills, feels a little forced.
Regardless, all the power to P+P+Z for creating a brand-new “form” of fiction at a time when the death of publishing in general is being touted, and for proving that the words “internet sensation” aren’t just lip service.
So, holler back Wagstaff — how do you come at The Strain?
Our final review/conversation of movies in the Undeath Match genre: Danny Boyle’s awesome 28 Days Later. Following the discussion between Dan and I you’ll find a note from my friend Kathleen, who knows more about film than any other person I know. She weighs in on our categorical mistake of calling this a “zombie” movie. Clearly, the two of us are seriously unqualified in terms of our ability to defend our positions. Where’s Jim when you need him? I’m sure he’d set us straight.
Let’s just open our discussion about 28 Days Later by stating the obvious: it’s a really fucking good film. Sorry, was this supposed to be PG? I’ll rephrase: it’s farking good film. Did you feel the same way?
There’s so much to like about this movie: Danny Boyle’s direction, the shocking way it opens (regardless of the non-realistic way that Cillian Murphy wakes up from his coma.
(No offense but he wouldn’t just be pulling IVs out of his arm… if you get my drift, and he would have been suffering from far more severe infections if they would have just been left dry… but anyway, it’s not meant to be totally realistic, right, it’s still a movie.)
Anyway, the freaky nature of the infected brings me to my first point: the debate that arises around whether or not we can convincingly call them zombies. I say yes. But I know many would disagree with me. What do you think?
One thing I will say, though, was the Lord of the Flies-type subplot that involves the soldiers is slightly less convincing and way more Hollywood than the rest of the picture. It might be the only section of the film I could convincingly critique. For me, when the movie took that turn it became less about Jim et al‘s struggle to survive and the very traditional man vs. man stuff that tends to happen whenever people are put in situations that challenge their traditional and comfortable modern-day lives.
I agree that this is definitely a zombie movie, even though they aren’t technically dead. People infected by the virus are no longer human and — as we’ve discussed before — if it looks like a zombie and wants to eat your face: it’s a zombie, (or a really bad date).
Anyway, it is a great film. It’s still amazingly creepy to see London so empty. I mean it’s NEVER like that, so it’s very disconcerting — very simple and very cleverly done.
And I think what makes this film creepy overall is that IT IS all kind of believable as far as zombie apocalypses go you know? I mean I didn’t really have a problem with the soldier subplot. Christopher Eccleston is suitably bonkers. And I seem to remember there’s a survivalist community locked away (and crazy) in a country house in Day of the Triffids too, so I wonder if that’s where that comes from?
How do feel about Cillian Murphy?
I think Cillian Murphy is amazingly talented (also, HOT). He can move from The Wind That Shakes The Barley to the Batman films, and then play a transvestite, and it’s all totally believable. He’s got one of those actor-ly faces that’s pretty enough to look good on the big screen but has enough talent to really pull out a great performance.
Was the idea of him being a bike courier and then an amazing survival-slash-apocalyptic hero all that convincing? Maybe not, but the film on the whole remains convincing. Each time he survives, maybe he feels a little more confident he actually deserves to do so and isn’t just sticking around because the script says so. Does that make sense? But my favourite character in the film has to be Brendan Gleeson’s Frank. His survival isn’t necessarily just about him — it’s all about his daughter.
I’ve never read Day of the Triffids so I can’t compare. But I would call the infected zombies. I mean they go way beyond a bad date and the change happens after you’re dead [note: they are technically NOT dead as I’ve since discovered] right? Plus, they’re unrecognizable as themselves once the change occurs. But how much slack will we get from calling them zombies from the purists out there? It’s also a little muddled because it’s a “rage” disease that’s transferred through the blood — and that’s kind of vampiric, isn’t it?
There’s something about Cillian Murphy I find a little sinister. It’s those super-blue eyes I think…. Or maybe that’s just the roles he’s played in other movies? That said, I thought he was great as Scarecrow in the Batman movies and I actually thought he was quite believable in 28 Days Later as “just some guy” who accidentally survives. He certainly looks rangy enough (and crazy enough?) to be a bike courier in London!
I think I’m just showing my age and my substandard English education harping on about Day of the Triffids — I’m pretty sure we had to read it at school. Or maybe it was the The Chrysalids, another post-apocalyptic sci-fi by John Wyndham? Anyway, in Day of the Triffids, almost everyone is blinded watching a spectacular meteor shower except the few people — including the hero who was in hospital with bandages over his eyes — who just missed it for some reason. Needless to say, everything goes to shit, and the people who can still see struggle to rebuild society while fighting these crazy walking flesh-eating plants called triffids!
So 28 Days Later is kind of similar only with zombies.
As a general rule I’d say that wobbly plants are a lot less scary than zombies, but there was a BBC TV series based on the books that terrified the shit out of me when I was little. It was kind of mind-blowing to my 8-year-old brain. The triffids made this weird rattling/clacking noise… creepy!
But back to 28 Days Later zombie debate. They’re definitely zombies to me. I think there’s kind of a history of “toxic zombies” who have been changed by radiation, or some virus or bio-hazard. I mean the zombies in the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are created by the virus Solanum right? Although maybe they are the undead reanimated by the virus? I’m sure someone will tell us…
So I think 28 Days Later is probably my favourite of the movies we’ve watched so far. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a zombie movie. What say you?
Day of the Triffids sounds kind of like Blindness by Saramago (minus the meteor shower part). Anyway, there was a crazy miniseries that aired here in Canada about nuclear war that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of. It terrified my brother and I, like he slept with the lights on terrified, for WEEKS. But that sense of abandon, that sense of the entire human race being evaporated except for a few survivors, is one of the reasons why the film is so great (you mentioned that a few paragraphs ago). And I think that’s why I truly found that the first half of the film was so effective. The zombies are scary, sure, and like you I do think they are zombies, but I think that science or speculative fiction (if that makes sense) is always better when it’s just slightly to the side of reality.
Did you see Children of Men? That film terrified me because it felt so real; it felt exactly like something that COULD happen at any point in the future. Films like 28 Days Later do the same; they’re not straight up horror or straight up action, but something a little more intelligent even. I agree entirely, it’s an honest to goodness great film — nothing guilty about the pleasure in watching it; it’s just good solid storytelling and fine acting. And yes, there’s something deliciously sinister about Cillian Murphy, but it works so well in this picture in the second act.
What would you give it out of 10?
Triffids isn’t quite as glum (or allegorical) as Blindness, but there are definitely some similarities. But I thought that 28 Days Later owed something to Blindness as well come to that…
I used to hand-sell the shit out of Blindness when I worked at Pages…couldn’t bring myself to watch the movie adaptation though. Sigh. AND I loved Children of Men. It felt all too believable and was all the more chilling as a consequence. Clive Owen is great in that movie.
ANYWAY, I think 28 Days Later is a solid 8.3 for me. How about you?
Okay, so 28 Days Later. Yes, I’d agree 8.3, a solid A.
Added-value commentary from Kathleen, who later convinced me that the infected in 28 Days Later are indeed NOT zombies:
In my opinion, the thing that makes zombies scary is that the zombies don’t have a plan, a mission or a higher need other than eating flesh. They are primal killing machines (much like people used to think of sharks before ‘shark week’). It is the encroaching wall and the increase in numbers — every time someone dies, they will rise — that makes it feel unstoppable. It is the plague coming through before they figured out the whole rat thing.
For 28 Days Later (as opposed to 28 Days, of course), they have an active and aggressive purpose. Their rage propels them forward and it enables them to have a plan and work as a team. (Zombies arrive in huge numbers but they are not team players. Their actions are exactly the same whether on their own or in a large group. And just so you know, I purposefully avoided the word ‘mob’ as that implies a group mentality of sorts.) Also, the folks with the rage virus are still living and still human so they die if they do not receive sustenance. We see this at the end with the soldier tied up and starving to death. His body will give out and he will die. He will die and he will not rise again. The ‘ragers’, for lack of a better title, will die for the same reason that any other human will die. A zombie could be disemboweled and only have torso, one arm and a head and they will still come at you looking for a feast. The rager will not. He will be dead. The end.
Before 28 Days Later becomes the video game [note: the section of the film that deals with the soldiers], it follows the same model as zombie films with disparate people coming together (as does Dickens’ novels and Wes Anderson’s films. It’s a good motif and I’m very fond of it). What I like about the argument with 28 Days Later is that the ethical questions of killing humans vs. finding a cure vs. finding other options is given a very ‘at war’ or ‘under siege’ response. It is very different when it is zombies. Although I understand that it is hard to destroy a zombie loved one, you are still destroying a zombie and not a person. 28 Days Later felt (and okay, maybe I’m pushing this too far) like a comment on civil war and that’s why I think it is misleading to call it a zombie invasion film.
Clearly, I’ve thought about this far too much.
Nope, Kathleen, you’ve got it just about right.
Cinematical has a great article up about “Why Zombies Make Better Horror Movies Than Vampires” — and while this goes directly against what I’m fighting for here — I just had to post some of it up (thanks Kath for the link!):
The battle of the undead on the big screen has been under way for some time now, and after months of hearing that vampires are taking over pop culture, it seems like we shouldn’t quite put our friends the zombies (no, not those ones) down for the count. Over at Newsweek, Sarah Ball put together a few reasons as to why zombies will never beat vampires in a pop-culture zeitgeist-off thanks to our long-standing love-affair with the pale tortured types. But just this weekend, audiences proved that when it comes to the walking dead, the zombies still have what it takes to bring in the crowds.
Everybody has their personal preferences (and man I love those bloodsuckers), so even though I’ve watched more vampire content than I care to remember (I even sat through the pilot of The Vampire Diaries), and I’ll always be a dedicated ‘fan of the fang’, I think that sometimes those drooling bumbling walking corpses might be better suited (at least these days) to the world of horror. Here’s why:
And while they may make their point for movies, I’m still to be convinced that zombies do better in books than vampires do.
We’ve been dancing around this vampires vs. zombies thing for a few weeks now. Back and forth, blaming each other for the audacity to defend one another’s tastes and anti-Canadian sentiments; anything really, to pull ahead in the poll. As of yesterday, vampires were winning, taking 53% of the popular vote. So, now that we’ve spent the last few weeks slinging mud, I want to take it back to the books. You know, the whole reason we’re here in the first place. One thing I’m not going to state outright is that one book is BETTER than the other; I’m simply going to compare and contrast the villains, namely the zombies and the vampires.
1. For the most part, the zombies in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (P+P+Z) are secondary to the story. Sure the “unmentionables” make a few appearances but, for the most part, they’re off screen. They’re hiding in the bushes and moaning in the hills. There’s no “main” zombie character (except for Charlotte; and even then, I’d call her a secondary character). Sure, there’s a lot of talk about how to fight them, where you were trained, and the unfortunate reality of living in a world where they exist.
1.5 And while the vampires in The Strain are similar in the sense that they’re something humans are fighting against, there’s a master villain who sets off the entire situation. Ancient, strong and essentially the whole reason the scourge starts in the United States, this vampire is bad-ass. Something you can truly fear. Like David Arquette floating outside your window in the original Buffy movie freaky (am I remembering that correctly?).
2. (SPOILERS) Both books have main characters who rile up an emotional response when the inevitable happens. In P+P+Z, it’s Charlotte. In, The Strain, it’s Eph’s wife. As I think it’s kind of unfair for poor Charlotte, who everyone realizes is plain and ends up with the insufferable Mr. Collins, to also be inflicted by the horrors of turning into a zombie, I’m going to give this round to P+P+Z.
3. The heroes. It’s impossible to compare Eph to Darcy. I mean, Darcy is DARCY, the quintessential male hero in all of romantic literature. That said, of course Darcy fights the zombies with aplomb. I mean, he’s from the upper classes, had all that great training in Japan and eventually needs to win his way back to Elizabeth’s heart. But honestly, whatevs, to an extent. It’s a story we know (and love) well. In The Strain, Eph not only has to fight the strange vampire/zombie hybrids, but also convince the entire world that there’s a major epidemic. See, Darcy doesn’t have to make anyone believe that there are unmentionables, he’s got it easy, I’d say, all he has to do is grab his sword and start beheading. Eph’s got to discover the problem, convince everyone there IS a problem and then fight the problem. Also, the vampires in The Strain are damn scary. DAMN SCARY.
So, it looks like the vampires are still coming out ahead. Whatcha got now?