Harmless Zombies

Dating back to Haitian roots, zombies have both terrified and fascinated us, but at what point does the genre change? At what point do we stop looking at zombies as “scary” and think of them in another way?After all, zombies can be found everywhere these days; commercials, lunchboxes, t-shirts, knick knacks etc.

In my humble opinion, this shift started back in 2004, with the release of  Shaun of the Dead. For me, this is when the genre began to change. While the zombie metaphor still holds true, depending on the political climate at the time, Shaun of the Dead elevated zombies to another level.

The movie tips its hat to George Romero but adds another element few movies had been able to capture in just the right way; humor. The movie makes fun of the British and zombie movies in general. While there is no question that humans are still on the menu, I thought this movie offered a great perspective on human behavior, as at the beginning of the movie, people are absolutely clueless in a pretty unrealistic way. I think it touches on how disconnected people were becoming and how oblivious people can be to what’s happening around them. It also depicts life after the outbreak, things returning to some semblance of normal with the added addition of zombie workers and friends as humans and zombies learn to coexist. Mostly.

This movie sparked others like it, but none as notable as Zombieland. Like Shaun of the Dead, this movie maintained the “scary” zombie type people enjoyed but added a dose of humor in a way that made it stand out. The movie maintained a cohesive story line, but allowed the zombies to be the butt of almost every humorous line in some way.

As much as I love The Walking Dead, it does not fall under “harmless” zombies, at least in my opinion, and thus this is one time I will not sing its accolades. Robert Kirkman makes it clear that there are no “friendly zombies” to be found and I prefer it that way.

In 2013, we see another type of zombie emerge. One who falls in love. Yes, Warm Bodies emerged and became a hit over Superbowl weekend. To me, and apparently a few others, this movie was Twilight all over again, only instead of vampires and werewolves, you get zombies coming back to “life” because their hearts get warm. Really? While I understand the demographics behind the movie as it was aimed for a female audience with a PG 13 rating, I can’t figure out how this movie did so well. It sort of mirrors how the zombi’s come back to life in Dezafi, as rather than salt, it’s love that brings them back from the dead. So to speak. But it’s still creepy. I cannot imagine falling in love with something purported to be dead. Or maybe I just haven’t found my one and only zombie yet.

This isn’t limited to just movies, there are also zombie romance novels because…Who wouldn’t want to be wooed by the undead. I haven’t read any of them, at least not yet, and to be truthful, isn’t likely that I will. It’s great to have romance during the zombie apocalypse, but I draw the line at things like Married with Zombies ( Jesse Peterson) or My Life as a White Trash Zombie (Diana Rowland).

Other movies followed suit, such as A Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. While these movies are mildly entertaining, they didn’t come close to their predecessors.

TV shows like Santa Clarita Diet and iZombie arrived on the scene a few years after The Walking Dead and offered yet another new perspective. What if zombies looked like humans, acted like humans but…Were dead. Would it be easy to hide in plain sight? What would happen if the humans found out? The answers are yes and nothing good. Remind you of the “immigration crisis”? This is no different.

In researching this trend of making zombies more human like, I’ve uncovered a plethora of reading material as well as read through reviews of the movies I’ve mentioned. These will be posted below for your enjoyment. I’ve also posted the PowerPoint I created to help walk you through this odd new twist on zombies.

No matter how you spin it, zombies will always be “bad” because of their need to eat brains, flesh or what have you, however, in today’s world, zombies fit right in with humans because we are all about inclusion and zombie rights.

Want to know more?

Daugherty, Paul. “The Metaphorical Zombie A Review Of Zombie Theory: A Reader, Edited By Sarah Juliet Lauro”. Death Studies, vol 43, no. 1, 2018, pp. 70-73. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/07481187.2018.1444928.

Lauro, Sarah Juliet. 
Zombie Theory: A Reader. University Of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Lamanna, Nicole. “Tropes In Apocalyptic Media Texts”. 
Mediatedpop, 2018, https://mediatedpop.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/tropes-in-apocalyptic-media-texts/. Accessed 2 Apr 2019.

http://www.goodreads.com

http://www.imdb.com

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/shaun-of-the-dead

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/shaun-of-the-dead-2004

https://www.pluggedin.ca/movie-reviews/warm-bodies/

https://screenrant.com/warm-bodies-movie-reviews/

https://variety.com/2015/film/reviews/scouts-guide-to-the-zombie-apocalypse-review-1201629355/

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/05/movies/pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies-review.html?referrer=google_kp

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/izombie


Advertisements

“You’ve still got a bill to pay…” -From The Decline

…And for my last ramble of the night, we come to a novel written by a local about an epidemic in our foggy city; The Decline by Christopher Jessulat. I want to just jump right in and say right off the hop that this novel is by far my favorite book we’ve read to date and is definitely one of my top new reads. I swear I’m not saying that just because the author is local, I really do mean it.

I found it was an easy read, and even without street names, was excited to read about familiar land marks. I found the characters engaging and great to connect with. The book is not black and white but dismal shades of gray and that, I think, was fantastic as it allowed for some really great character development. I will also be upfront and say that Quinn is an ass and I hate that I understand his motives. I would like to think I’d have done differently.

They way relationships are explored in this book are what I like to see, not just new connections, but old ones as well. I think the way the characters interact is honest, though frustrating because it’s so true to nature and people do dumb things all the time for all the “right” reasons. I like that I was surprised by some of the scenes and their outcomes because that doesn’t happen often, usually everything is transparent as to where it’s going to go, but this story isn’t.

For once, I am not going to give away any spoilers or endings like I have done previously because I think everyone needs to read this book. I started and finished it one day because I could not put it down, not because I had to have it read but because I was really enjoying it.  I had a lot of fun imaging what it would be like traipsing through Saint John, trying to survive.

An additional treat is that we had the pleasure of having Christopher Jessulat join our class for a discussion and found the author as likable as his book. He was very friendly and answered all our questions honestly and admitted when he didn’t have an answer or hinted at what might be to come. A pint or bottle of wine with friends is always a great way to come up with ideas. I was able to get my book signed and am very happy to find out that it’s planned as a trilogy, so I will be looking out for the next two installments because I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

JUST DON’T KILL SULLY!

Zombie Ladder?

Hello and welcome folks! So, tonight, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on the book World War Z by Max Brooks and then the movie of the same named that is based on the book.  To begin with, let’s look at the book first.

I have no problem saying the book was far, far better than the movie. I kind of cheated with this one a little bit and got the audio book instead of reading it, in which the different characters all had their own voices. I have every intention of sharing the link at the end because I think it made the over all experience that much more enjoyable. The audio book allowed me to could hear the different tones in people’s voices as they recounted their version of event better then I probably could have imagined it. In that world, it came as no surprise that those at the top would try to keep something like an outbreak contained for as long as possible from the public, until it’s too late.

Some characters were easier to connect with than others, which I’m sure was intentional as it often is, but as a collective, I found that each story was relevant and when emotion comes through in the reading, it flows well. Over all, it is definitely one of the better books I’ve read so far.

The movie World War Z is of course based on the book. I say based because it does not do the book justice, even with Brad Pitt at the helm.  I found the zombies got too smart too quick when they figured out how to form a “zombie ladder” to get over the wall. I found it really difficult to make a connection with the characters, except for the children, because well, they’re children. Not one of my favorite zombie movies if I’m being completely honest, and the ratings it received suggested the same. Plus, David Morse died way too quickly.

Here is the link to the audio book, which I highly recommend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5T7yCkfBwCo&t=1161s

Pudding Anyone?

Good afternoon folks!

Welcome to another fun filled evening of zombie talk! Today we’re going to be looking at “Zone One” by Colson Whitehead. I will be the first to admit, I have not yet finished the book and am in fact only half way through it. I will be honest, I am finding this novel slow going and I’m only up to Saturday, although I’ve been told that by Sunday, it does make up for the density, so I do have my fingers crossed for that since I am planning on finishing the book.

Thus far, we’ve come to see that the main character, Mark Spitz, is what’s called a ‘sweeper’, where he and a team are sweeping through New York as humans try and take back Manhattan piece by piece.  We’re introduced to a new term ‘skel’, which is another way of just saying zombie. In addition to this though, we’re also introduced to ‘stragglers. Stragglers are the first type of zombie that I’ve ever felt even a small bit of sympathy for. In this novel, they are the one percent of the zombie population who do not eat flesh but are sort of stuck on a loop, where they are repeating what they had done as humans. The reason is unknown, but they are an anomaly.

Compared to what we’ve read so far, this book has the potential to be something interesting, but at this point in the novel, I’m not really seeing it. I didn’t realize it had been set over such a short period of time, but it made more sense when that was explained to me as I hadn’t caught onto it. I had wondered why the days had seemed long and confusing.  

The characters were easy enough to figure out. Gary was the unlikable one, at least to me, I did like Kaitlin though. I am looking forward to reading World War Z as I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie (even with Mr. Pitt), so I have hopes that the book is better.

A little George for the soul?


Tonight, we are going to be looking at the book “Feed” by Mira Grant, the first novel of a trilogy, as well as George Romero’s “Diary of the Dead”. As always, let’s look at the novel first. In this novel, we see what happens decades after the zombie apocalypse, when the world is trying to put itself back together. We meet three young bloggers, brother and sister Shaun, Georgia and their friend Buffy (coincidentally also a George) with her boyfriend Chuck, who are asked to cover the campaign of presidential candidate Peter Ryman. We’re taken through the novel from George’s perspective, where in this day and age, blogging is everything and only the ‘facts’ matter. A shout out to Romero if ever there was one.

By the end of the novel, a political conspiracy has come to life, Ryman’s running mate Tate having set up an elaborate scheme that cost Buffy and Chuck their lives, as she’d been helping them all along, George ultimately paying the price as Shaun has to put down his own sister as she begins to turn, writing down her few last moments while she’s lucid before Shaun pulls the trigger.  The novel is then taken up from Shaun’s perspective and leads into the second part. There is an alternate ending, where Shaun is the one who dies, George committing suicide and leaving Rick to pick up the shattered pieces, but I feel as though this one is much more suitable, because if the conspiracy does in fact go beyond Tate, it will be up to Shaun to get to the bottom of his sister’s death.

In Romero’s “Diary of the Dead”, it doesn’t take one very long to figure out that this is more than just your average zombie movie, or, at least it shouldn’t. Almost immediately, as soon as the outbreak begins, we see how the media tries to put a spin on it, tries to down play it. How the government officials with acronyms for names do their best to hide what is really happening while a group of film students find out the hard way exactly what’s going on, using the internet to show people what was really happening.

The movie is shot in first person cam, which as a rule, I hate watching, but in the mid 2000’s, this genre was popular thanks to movies like “Blair Witch”, “REC” and “Cloverfield”. It is supposed to give the viewer a first-hand experience, as though it’s you who are walking through the oddly empty hospital, or creepy dark house, although I find I get a bit of vertigo from it. The main videographer, Jason Creed, pretty much pisses off everyone in the movie because he simply will not stop recording, no matter upset or how close to death he, his friends or his girlfriend get. 

To me, this shows just how detached we have become from reality, even though we think we are all very much grounded. We spend all day staring at screens instead of one another, most of the time, and let’s be honest, if a zombie outbreak were to actually occur, I feel like most of us would be dead before we even knew about it, or believed it was happening and I think that is the point that Romero was trying to make.

By the end of the movie, only a select few survive, due to poor choices and just bad timing and Jason bites the big one. The girlfriend Debra has an epiphany of her own, having fallen for another guy by this point, though she knew what Jason was on about, having to record every single thing, and so she picks up the camera and she and the remaining few hides in a panic room while the house they’re in is surrounded by zombies. 

I do have a few issues with the ending of this movie, because had they all been thinking clearly, they could have fortified the heck out of that house and survived quite nicely, at least for a little while and then fell back into the panic room if needed, but that’s just my little opinion.

Stay tuned as there’s still more ramblings to come!

“All this time runnin’ from walkers, you forget what people do” -Maggie Greene

Welcome back! Today is a two for one deal as there are a few things I’m going to discuss, so lets dive right in shall we? The first thing we’re going to look at is the Last Man On Earth sort of theory, you know the idea that there is one lone “survivor”, although you know as well as I do that there always ends up being more.

Specifically though, we’re looking at “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson, which I have to say, the book is way better than the movie, and I love me some Will Smith, but that was not his best. I’m sorry but Vincent Price takes the prize home for me for this one. I did not get to see “Omega Man” with Charles Heston, but it is on my list of things to watch. I will argue though, these things were not zombies in the slightest, but were most definitely vampires.

The ending of the “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price was definitely poetic in nature because the human falls for the vampire, finds a way to cure the disease and ends up dying in the end, but is able to leave the cure in the woman’s hands. That’s really the only similarity between that and the movie “I am Legend” with Will Smith, whose version was nothing like the book at all and is probably good that it was labeled as ‘inspired by’.

The whole last man on earth genre is something everyone, to an extent, can identify with, where race, gender, class doesn’t come into play because while yes, you would be the last person alive and have to be on your guard, the world would truly be yours, and if it was anything like the version of Will Smith’s place or say Charles Heston’s place in “Omega Man” then you’d be living large and in charge so to speak. Besides, if you’re an introvert, this would be a dream come true, at least for a little while, and then as long as you could somehow keep yourself sane, perhaps by talking to mannequins, you’d live a long and happy life…If not a very lonely one, but just think of ALL the animals you could adopt!

Just some food for thought!

“There is a vast ocean of shit, that you people don’t know shit about. Rick knows every fine grain of said shit… and then some.” -Abraham Ford

So, as hinted at last week, this week, we’re going to look at Dézafi by FrankÉtienne and Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele. First, lets look at Dézafi.

One thing you should know is that this was originally written in Kréole in 1975 translated to French in 1979 and only recently translated into English. The book is written from numerous points of view and is difficult to tell sometimes exactly whose point of view you’re supposed to be looking from. Or through. Or something.

It shows how one-man (Sintil) reigns over an entire village using violence and superstition, and the desolation and utter hopelessness felt, from the zonbis, to the villagers. How it takes his own daughter (Siltana), to finally set about a revolution because no one else dare step out of line lest they to become a zonbi.

Aside from it being confusing to read, it really was depressing because after awhile, you could almost feel the lash of the whip, or flinch as you pictured a bone being shattered simply because a person wasn’t moving fast enough. Your heart felt heavy at the idea of children sleeping in the rain because of holes in roof, beset upon by bedbugs. Knowing that while yes, you were reading a book, but that this wasn’t just fiction, this sort of thing was fact. That these people had been treated as though they were less than nothing, literally worked until they were dead and then cast aside as some other poor soul took their place.

How do we know this to be fact? History. While the story itself may be fiction, it’s rooted in fact, and the brutal actions against the people in the book were probably just a small part of what they suffered on a day to day basis as during the author’s time, a lovely person knows as Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier oversaw the country. I didn’t know who he was and if you don’t, you should Google him. He was a real piece of work.  

This book did nothing to hide the brutal truth that Haiti is an unforgiving, impoverished country and yet, somehow, they still manage to keep one foot in front of the other as they try to figure out which foot to dance on. I know I mentioned a character named Siltana in my previous post, so I will come back to her now. Throughout the book, she essentially throws herself at Klodonis, who used to be a nice looking, well educated young man with a bright future ahead of him, until he pissed off Sintil, who hated smart people, or anyone who might be better than he was. So, he kidnaps the kid, poisons him with this potion that turns him into a mindless zonbi, and parades him through the village as a warning to the others.

Needless to say, Klodonis does not have a good time, and Siltana’s character annoys the bejeepers out of me because she’s been working with her father long enough to know that it doesn’t matter what she does, it isn’t going to matter and so even though she’s letting herself waste away to nothing, he doesn’t care, because he simply can’t. The only redeeming thing this character does is fight back against Sintil’s right hand man Zofe while he is drunk, feeding Klodonis salt, which ‘wakes’ him up from his zonbi state. He in turn frees the other zonbis, who then help him rip the guy to shreds (no sympathy, he totally had it coming), before they join up with the villagers and do the same thing to Sintil. Siltana runs off and that’s essentially the end of that.

Alright, Get Out. I had watched this movie when it first came out and was as surprised as everyone else I suppose by the ending, it was something new, but looking at it as a zombie movie had been the farthest thing from my mind. Having watched it a second time for this class, I’m looking at it a little differently. As far as most horror movies go these days, most of the factors were predictable; the sketchy white family, the overly racist brother. You don’t suspect the girlfriend right away but then her actions, especially not wanting to leave the house, make you go ‘yeah ok, she knows what’s up’.

The swapping of the brain thing, did not see that coming, I thought they were just making them into slaves with the whole bidding thing. In a way, they still are, and what’s weirder still, is that a part of them is still sort of…Conscious. So yeah, I see how this could definitely be seen as a zombie type movie if you’re looking at it from like a Voodoo sort of superstition standpoint, even if it is a surgical procedure rather then a mixture of herbs and an alchemical process. Peele blurred the lines but that’s why it works, and the fact that Chris gets away scot free and that there is virtually no evidence of him ever being at the house is awesome, since usually, in horror movies, the black guy is one of the first to go. It’s a sad but true fact, one that the Scary Movie franchise of movies exploits (though they should have stopped at the first one).

On a side note, I posted last week about the new Walking Dead trailer and, as it turns out, I spoilered myself, since I’m half a season behind ☹. Apparently Judith and the Whisperers are not a new thing. Dang it. March Break really needs to hurry!