Friday, October 31, 2008

"Creatures crawl in search of blood..."

Hey peeps,

I'm rapidly running out of different ways to say "hello" aren't I? :-)

This week I ave mostly bin watchin Dead Set (apologies to the Fast Show) For those of you outside the UK, it's a nightly zombie horror series on TV. The twist is that your usual list of ragtag survivors are people trapped in the Big Brother house.

There's some dark humour in there (not surprising given the writer - who's a true wit IMO) and for television, it doesn't pull any punches. We Brits do like our dramas dark don't we? It seems that American programmes (and not to knock them) are on the whole - like the Californian weather - bright, cheerful, etc. British programming, other than comedy obviously... no, wait: that can be pretty dark too... is like our climate: changeable, moody, etc. It might be sunny now, but the black storm clouds are gathering. Are we Brits a depressing bunch? I know one of our racial stereotypes is for complaining, but most of the people I know are fairly upbeat, happy-go-lucky souls.

But I digress (as ever - Ed.) on what I was going to talk about. Have you had one of those conversations with your mates (no, not *that* one) over what you'd do if there was a zombie outbreak? The rise of the zombie game / film / TV series is interesting in itself. Why zombies again? Because they're unstoppable? Because you could be turned? Because they're cheap special effects? Answers on a postcard to the usual address. :)

Take care and... don't have nightmares :-)
Lynn

[ Lyric: Thriller by (of course) Michael Jackson ]

10 comments:

  1. I was considering my zombie plan for my place of work on Thursday (close the car park gates, up to the first floor of the admin block, across the workshop roof, and over the fence to the Transco depot to tool up).

    Nut I am a roleplayer, so apocalyptic scenarios are a regular occurance :)

    (If I'm at home, my brother's top floor flat is the rendezvous point)

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  2. Sadly, I consider it futile to make plans for a zombie outbreak because if zombie films have taught us anything, it's that once the dead start walking the earth again, the living are DOOMED*. Yes, no matter how secure a sanctuary the survivors may manage to make for themselves, and how assiduously they may work to keep the bloodthirsty hordes of the undead out, those hordes will eventually find a way to get in and overrun the place. God, it's so bloody depressing.

    Yes, as you might have gathered from the above, I'm something of a zombie film tragic, although I really don't know why. I find zombie films so depressing for the most part, and hate, hate, HATE the way they seem to have, almost without fail, rotten endings. It's particularly annoying when those endings seem tacked on (they're sort of a perverse equivalent of the equally forced "feelgood" (or, as I prefer to call them "feelsick") endings that mar many otherwise good complex films); it's like the director's saying, "Well, you thought that was all going to end happily, didn't you? But just before the end credits start rolling, I'm going to stick in this awful five-second final scene which shows that the undead haven't been stopped after all!" 28 Weeks Later was a recent example of a zombie flick that ended in such an unsatisfying manner (I also hated the way so much of that one's plot hinged on mind-blowing levels of stupidity on the part of the uninfected characters), as was a new version of Day of the Dead I also saw not long ago (actually, that one's "shocking" ending was just lame; they really didn't put any effort into it at all).

    But, somehow, in spite of all the beefs I have with them, I JUST CAN'T STOP WATCHING THE DAMN THINGS! ARGH! I tend to prefer the humourous ones (eg Shaun of the Dead and Braindead), not least because they're more likely to have happy endings; and also have a soft spot for the Resident Evil flicks (which is sort of odd given that I've never played the games). Another zombie movie I liked a lot, and which was very different from the usual sorts of zombie flicks, was The Serpent and the Rainbow, which dealt with Voodoo zombies in Haiti.

    *Ditto for all those Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies (let's throw The Thing into that category as well, shall we?). I've often wondered what I'd be able to do if I discovered everyone I knew was being replaced by alien pod people - sadly the conclusion I invariably come to is "Not much".

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  3. Pandora: 'Course, *getting* to the rendezvous point may be a challenge. :)

    so apocalyptic scenarios are a regular occurance

    LOL. How very true! Now roll for SAN loss :)

    Last year Waterstones had a small book titled: "How to Survive a Zombie Invasion". It had been put together by the girlfriend of a chap who was into zombie films. The advice in it really made me chuckle. It should be on the list for all future horror writes... oh, and roleplayers. :)

    Zosimus: Ahh, we may be doomed, but then it's worth trying isn't it? :) Shopping malls seem a popular choice - provided you can lock them down. I'm surprised no-one's gone for an old castle, but then that would suggest a European slant to the film.

    I know what you mean about the dodgy endings. I too was let down by the ending of Day of the Dead. Really, if all the characters are dead? What was the point of the story? It's not like they actually got anywhere or changed. They just reacted and were picked off. Great, that's 2 hours of my life I'll never see again :)

    On a plus note, I loved the ending for 28 Days Later: indeed the twist by using the image of the plane was to me more shocking than a 'nasty' ending. Clever stuff.

    Ahhh, The Serpent and the Rainbow. Now that's one of my all time favourites. Simply done and a scary mix of everyday events and very weird magical happenings. You'll never look at small clay jars in the same way :)

    Oddly, I don't mind the ending to The Thing, for me it kinda works although I guess ultimately, the story isn't finished.

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  4. A good zombie read is Max Brook's "World War Z". Its a fictional account of interviews with survivors of the great zombie war from all around the world.

    Its a sort-of sequel to his zombie survival guide (might be the one you saw). And British survivors found castles to be excellent safe houses :D

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  5. I was going to comment on Shaun of the dead too. So long as there is a rocking "Queen" track in the background and a baseball bat/snooker cue/weapon of preferred choice in your hand - what's the problem?

    Dark comedy started back in the 80's. Remember Rowan Atkinson walking along, spotting the camera, waving to it and then colliding with a tree?

    Now that was funny

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  6. Lynn, I'd have to say I didn't mind the ending for The Thing either; somehow it seemed a rather fitting way to bring that movie to a conclusion. An ambiguous final scene followed by the credits, the latter things set to the movie's truly unnerving score. Just as you said you'll never be able to look at small clay jars in quite the same way after seeing The Serpent and the Rainbow, I found I was never able to look at huskies in quite the same way again after watching The Thing. Not that you see many of them in these parts...

    On a related matter, have you noticed how many um... things The Thing (and its predecessor, The Thing From Another World) had in common with the Doctor Who story, The Seeds of Doom?

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  7. And now for some more, miscellaneous reflections on zombies:

    1) In addition to watching a lot of zombie movies, I've also listened to a lot of death metal songs about the subject. Most of these are quite funny, since they tend to be written by bands like Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under, who try so hard to be taken seriously yet still come across as incredibly cheesy. There also used to be a metal outfit from around my parts called Team Metal, whose finest composition IMO was a song entitled Radioactive Arse Munching Zombies Gone Berzerk on a Brain Eating and/or Felching Rampage.

    2) Zombies were always my favourite monsters in the computer game Quake. I loved the disgusting (yet at the same time strangely erotic) moans they made, as well as the fact that the only way you could kill them was by blowing them up, sending great, filthy slabs of decaying meat flying around the screen.

    3) Just as I can't seem to stay away from zombie movies, despite the disagreeable mood they usually put me in, I also can't stop playing a PC version of House of the Dead 2 that a brother of mine got me for Christmas a few years ago. It's the dumbest game, but also, unfortunately, as addictive as crack.

    4) There's a city in Malawi called Zomba, whose name I once considered appropriating for a story about zombies. A bunch of adventurers would find this magnificent lost city with the above name, and eagerly begin exploring it, unaware that it harboured a terrible secret. At sunset, a giant crypt in its centre would open, allowing the zombies of Zomba to emerge in their thousands for yet another nocturnal rampage!

    5) I don't know if you ever got into Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, but zombies were a frequently-encountered foe in those. FF zombies weren't quite as nasty as movie ones: being wounded by one generally didn't doom you to becoming one of the undead yourself, and they were often completely indifferent to you, more concerned as they were simply with performing whatever menial task their evil master had ordered them to do (in this respect, they were a lot more like voodoo zombies than movie ones). Having been introduced to these types of zombies long before the ones in movies, I think I was quite shocked at how vicious the latter type were by comparison.

    6) Finally, when you work with people who have dementia, you come to realize that zombies and other manifestations of the living dead don't just exist in horror movies.

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  8. Pandora: Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for that one.

    A few years ago Mrs Jones and I were visiting a ruined castle - complete with a *very* deep moat. It had a wooden footbridge to get you in and my first thoughts were 'how long would it take to chainsaw though this to make the place zombie proof?'. Clearly, I need to get out more :D

    Selina: I liked Shaun of the Dead, but while the Space movie references work, I think Hot Fuzz was far, far funnier.

    Yarp? :)

    Zosimus: Death metal? Fighting Fantasy? I don't know what you mean? :) It's funny in that the more 'hardcore' a music becomes, it often becomes self-parody. Take gangsta rap, I can't keep a straight face when that's on.

    The zombie in Quake were excellent. Did Trent really make all the sound FX for it? What was he doing for those? :) The horrible wet splat noise when they hit you was a bit grim too.

    Mmm... I wonder if Steve Jackson et al toned the whole zombie thing down for the kids books? I can't imagine them getting through otherwise. I remember one horror series (Necroscope) were the reanimated dead didn't stop when beheaded, that was nasty. Hands and arms groping their way towards the soliders.

    Cheery subject eh? :)

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  9. By the strangest coincidence, a few days ago, I happened to be talking with some guys from a local rock band I know (a group called Blood Red Renaissance) who said they'd been approached by some independent filmmakers who'd wanted to use some of their material on a movie they're making about "hit-women and zombies". The film in question is called "The Counterpart", and I just checked out the official website for it (www.thecounterpartmovie.com). It looks seriously dodgy, but who knows, it could be fun.

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  10. Zosimus: Spooky eh? That film sounds a hoot. If it's bad, I hope it's so bad it's good.... if that makes any sense at all :D

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