Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

Thursday hit as one of those rare beast days where my regularly scheduled Needless Things piece dropped at the same time as one of my Gruesome Magazine pieces. Interestingly, they both have roots in Japan. One looks at a classic kaiju film version of an iconic American monster while the other looks at the modern Japanese take on the ravenous undead.

(more…)

Advertisements

gar

George Romero had a few less than great comments about The Walking Dead and World War Z (film, not book) in a recent interview. Go read the whole interview later. I linked it in the piece and much of the rest of the interview is rather interesting.

However…
(more…)

Capture

(more…)

Ap1

A lesson in why you should follow your passion no matter how badly someone else tries to knock you down and kick you when you’re down.

http://www.needlessthingssite.com/2015/04/adrenalin-productions-finding-success.html

 

.
Look, I don’t really care if anyone with an opinion wants to share it. I really don’t even have a problem with people who don’t bother to have informed opinions wanting to share their opinions when it comes to issues like entertainment and what they like or dislike in their horror. Hey, everybody has opinions. People see various things and, for whatever intangible reasons, they decide that they like or dislike things based on their own personal tastes. And, yeah, if you ask them to articulate the why behind their tastes, they’ll come up with a lot of reasons that they present as in depth analysis and (almost) as facts.
.
Not really a problem there. Hell, I do it. That’s half the fun of discussing things with fellow genre geeks no matter what your personal favorite genre is. Debating the finer points of who has the worst tastes in your social circle is a time honored tradition among geeks. 
.
But whenever something gets a big, pop-culture boom moment, that’s when the “experts” come out in droves. The “experts” are sought out and given book deals and TV interviews and paid good money to talk about something that they supposedly know something about. And right now that pop-culture boom moment’s spotlight is shining its light on the alive again zombie genre thanks to a nice slow burn that started with 28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake, and the video game turned movie franchise Resident Evil and that has now exploded thanks to the comic book turned television series The Walking Dead. So, of course, that’s where the experts are being sought out right now.
.
Except, I seriously want to slap the stupid out of some of these experts; especially over the supposed zombie “rules” out there and the ever so fun debate of Fast VS Slow.
.
We’ll go with the Fast VS Slow thing first…
.
Look, I personally don’t care if you’re a fan of the fast or the slow zombie. I honestly don’t think that the speed of the zombie makes a film either good or bad. We have decades of bad zombie films that have both fast and slow zombies as well as some good films that include both fast and slow zombies. It’s not the speed of the ghoul that makes a good or bad film, it’s the people behind the film that makes it a good or bad film.
.
And, yes, for the record I am a fan of both fast and slow zombies.
.
But there are a bunch of people that hate the concept of the fast zombie. They go on (and on and on and on and on and on) about how it’s just impossible for a zombie to run. It is, they repeatedly declare, absolutely ridiculous and completely unrealistic for a dead body to get up and run like a track star. They are, after all, dead and the dead can’t run. Interestingly, this line of thought seems to overlook the basic concept that it’s absolutely ridiculous and completely unrealistic for a dead body to get up, let alone get up, walk around, act like a herd animal and hunt and eat humans. But, hey, that’s their argument and they’re welcome to it.
.
But a part of that hate of the fast zombie is the need to assign blame for the introduction of the fast zombie into the zombie genre. It’s somebody’s fault and, damn it, they’re standing at the ready to point the finger of blame. And you see this not just in the average fan, but in the “experts” as well. The problem is, especially for the “experts,” they’re often wrong.
.
This time of year we get a flood of horror related specials on TV and book stores put their horror related product in a place of prominence for shoppers to see and buy. And in the last few years, a lot of that stuff has either included zombies heavily or been devoted specifically to zombies. And what have I been hearing and reading? Well, not exactly something that I would call accurate information by the various experts.
.
There are primarily two camps that seem to make up the bulk of the “experts.” out there. One camp blames 28 Days Later. 28 Days Later, they say, introduced the fast zombie to us. 28 Days Later was the first zombie film to make them fast and thus up the terror factor. The other camp blames the remake of Dawn of the Dead as they discount the zombie credentials of the 28 Days Later zombies. They are, so they will tell you, not really the undead in 28 Days Later. The creatures in 28 Days Later are infected, living humans suffering from something like rabies on steroids. Problem is, both camps are full of it.
.
.
This, as a specific example, brings me to Jovanka Vuckovic. She’s in the camp of pointing to 28 Days Later as introducing us to the fast zombie. Now, what are her credentials insofar as being given book deals to write about zombies (note the book cover pictured above) and get interviewed about them while also being paid nice money to contribute to zombie and horror related documentaries? Well, she’s the former editor of Rue Morgue Magazine, she’s worked in the film business, she’s been paid to write about horror in general for years now as well as lecture on the matter in general or about specific sub-genres in the horror genre, and she has been called by some the most influential woman in horror. But, well, she’s full of it here. And what, to me, makes her comments about fast zombies and 28 Days Later look foolish is that she’s written the above book and that she’s written about the various films in the genre before she wrote that book.
.
If you track down a copy of her book, she does a fairly good job of covering the history of the zombie in cinema. She covers the old Voodoo zombie, goes over how Romero changed the way we looked at zombies and covers in varying detail the huge number of films churned out in the 70s and 80s by American, Spanish and Italian film studios among others. She also does a nice bit of covering the popular zombie cult classic known as 1985’s Return of the Living Dead.
.
And there’s the rub.
.
Return of the Living Dead, if you’ve never seen it, has fast zombies in it. It has a scene where an entire herd of fast zombies overrun a group of police officers. It shows zombies sprinting at their victims. And it did this almost 20 full years before either 28 Days Later or the Dawn of the Dead remake did it. And it wasn’t alone in this.
.
Zombi 3 not only had running zombies, but it had zombies that seemed to be able to leap small buildings in a single bound. Some of the other low budget wonders of the 80s and 90s, including the sequels to Return, shared this habit of making zombies a bit more athletic than we saw in George’s films. And even if you somehow just want to look at theatrical releases in the 2000s as your measuring stick, you would still be wrong in saying that 28 Days Later was the first fast zombie film. 28 Days Later was first released in its native country in November of 2002. Resident Evil, acknowledged by Vuckovic and others as a zombie film, unleashed its fast and insanely jacked up and mutated zombies on cinema goers in March of 2002.
.
But that’s not what the “experts” are saying in print and in interviews. From page 116 of Vuckovic’s book where 28 Days Later is discussed-
.
“Finally- and most importantly- they’re capable of running, a characteristic totally new to the zombie subgenre.”
.
Except, dear Javanka, it wasn’t and you should know better as you covered the other zombie films with their running zombies that came before it both in your book and in your years on the horror scene. You just failed to mention the running zombies when discussing most of them. 
.
So, to Vuckovic and her fellow “experts,” we get it. You don’t like the “new” fast zombies. You think that slow zombies are better than fast zombies. So why not just leave it at that? Why not say that your preference is for the shamblers and not the sprinters and just leave it at that. Because when you don’t, when you try to use your status as an “expert” to point he finger of blame at 28 Days Later or the Dawn remake, because it’s just become so popular to point the finger of blame at at least one of them, you do a disservice to not only yourselves (as your credibility on anything you say is now suspect,) but to the genre and its fans as well.
.
You’re offering your opinion and your biases as facts and your doing it in things that are being sold or shown as scholarly (to greater or lesser degrees) works that people can learn about the genre from. As such, you are essentially promoting misinformation. You make it harder for people to have discussions about the genre as those who are like-minded to your biases now have “experts” to point to when they want to support their unreality POV on the matter and younger, newer fans to the genre who are seeking this stuff out end up being armed with “information” that’s garbage when seeking out things that are a part of their new favorite genre or, even better, when trying to get into discussions about the subject with fans who know better. Plus, well, you look like o bit like a dumbass when you sell yourself as an expert and you keep saying stuff that’s ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag.
.
Oh, and, please, while all of you various experts out there are at it… Stop trying to validate your preference as the “right one” with ridiculous arguments constructed around what’s realistic and what isn’t with regards to dead bodies getting up and eating the living. Not only are you essentially hanging your debating point on the idea that you can’t accept the seventh impossible thing before breakfast after accepting the other six without question, but you’re doing so when sometimes discussing movies where the source of the zombie plague is either unknown or flat out explained as being related to supernatural means.
.
If the origins are supernatural, then you can’t really claim the scientific/reality based high ground in the debate. What, a supernatural power strong enough to raise the dead and have them hunt humans can’t also tweak the dead to make them a bit faster than you like them to be? If the origins are unknown, then how can you say in any definitive way that whatever is raising the dead isn’t altering the undead muscle fiber and flesh? Hell, even if the origin is man made, whether a military super-soldier program gone wrong or an experiment in medical super serums, why would it not make as much sense to say that the experiment gone wrong might be partially doing what it was intended to do to begin with?
.
Again, just say that you’re not a fan of the fast ones and leave it at that. If you’re just a fan of the genre and you’re arguing that fast zombies are just ridiculously impossible, lamenting the fact that “kids today” don’t get it and saying that films like 28 Days Later and the Dawn remake introduced fast zombies to the genre… Well, you just look like someone arguing an uninformed opinion. If you’re someone getting paid money to talk about the genre, making your living in part by talking about the genre and flashing your “expert” credentials in discussions, lectures and documentaries on the subject and you’re saying that… Well, you look a bit like an jackass to anyone who knows better. But you’re not alone in that, because this time of year we’re flooded with a higher than average band of happy “experts” who want to lecture us all about “The Rules” of the zombie genre.
.
You see, there are apparently rules to the zombie genre that you must adhere to or your zombies aren’t “real” zombies and are “bad” zombies. And, of course, whenever we have rules, we have those who must explain those rules to we who just don’t know any better. There are two problems with this concept though.
.
The first is that this concept is a path to stagnation. Two seconds of thought about the subject should make one realize that declaring that you must have a rigid and inflexible set of rules that must be followed in each and every story is a path to boredom, stagnation of the genre if not actually the downfall of the genre. Yes, there has to be a set of basic guidelines to ground your zombie creation in, but I think that pretty much ends at being undead and munching flesh.
.
Every other horror creature out there has evolved to a greater or lesser degree. That doesn’t mean that every evolution has been for the better or that every evolution was permanent, but every other horror creature out there has evolved a bit here and there to keep them fresh. And, double bonus, some evolutions get so run into the ground and done to death that someone later comes along with a back to basics approach that gets the genre embraced all over again as the “new” pop culture fave. Change isn’t always bad and it is never permanent or all encompassing.
.
The other issue with this particular breed of expert is that they’re often parading their personal preferences around as “The Rules” when in reality their version of “The Rules” doesn’t even match the source they claim that “The Rules” come from. They make up these rules to fit their personal preferences and then try to give them some sort of weight by declaring them to be George Romero’s rules. One of the most annoying offenders out there in the currant crop of “experts” is one Max Brooks.
.
.
Now, I should say up front here that, as far as his fiction work goes, I love Max. I loved The Zombie Survival Guide, I loved WWZ and I loved The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. I also count it among the great tragedies in my life that I had to work shift and couldn’t get off the evening that he was in my general area giving one of his Survival lectures. Granted, I wanted to slap him one night when on the late, great Fangoria Radio he went on a tirade about how badly Return of the Living Dead “damaged” the genre and how many years it took to “recover” from that, but that was his opinion (wrong as it might be) and he has his right to it. But, I’m sorry to say, Max is a bit full of it at times. And a part of why he’s occasionally full of it is because he from time to time likes to pass of his rules as essentially Romero’s rules. And he’s not alone in this.
.
But we’ll stick with Max here.
.
“The Rules” as Max explains them are that zombies are mindless eating machines who never stop and never run. They’re slow moving hordes of unstoppable(ish) and inevitable death coming after you. And these rules are, as mentioned above, based in the classic works of Romero’s zombie films. And again, as also mentioned above, he’s far from alone in stating this.
.
And that always makes me wonder if any of the people, let alone the “experts,” saying this have actually ever bothered to watch Romero’s Dead films. And I always end up wondering that because Romero himself didn’t follow most of the rules that people set down in stone as “Romero’s Rules.”
.
You want to talk jogging zombies? Watch Night of the Living Dead and watch the graveyard zombie chase after Barbra’s car.
.
You want to talk running zombies? Watch Dawn of the Dead and watch the two child zombies at the airport charge the guy when he finds them inside. Granted, Romero now says that zombies can’t run, but it doesn’t change the fact that he put a couple of runners in his classic Dawn film and a pretty swift jogger in Night. 
.
You say zombies aren’t coordinated enough to climb some structures like ladders or pull themselves up through small openings like an attic opening? Check out Dawn of the Dead and explain to me how in the hell all those zombies got up on the roof there at the end when the only way that they could get up there like that was up a ladder and then pulling themselves up through a small opening in the ceiling.
.
You say zombies are mindless? Romero never subscribed to that rule. In Night, you have the zombie in the graveyard struggle to get at Barbra, stop beating against the car window with its bare hand, look around and pick up a big rock to use as a tool to smash the glass with. In Night, you have zombies pick up sticks and stones and throw them at light sources. In Dawn, you see a zombie use its memory of life to go to a fake wall, rip it down and lead other zombies to the living. And, of course, in Day and Land you had flat out thinking, reasoning, plotting and planning zombies.
.
So in what films did Romero actually even bother to follow “The Rules” himself? Well, two of them to be honest with you. He followed them pretty damned closely in Dairy of the Dead and Survival of the Dead, the two entries into his franchise of Dead films that most of his fans and most critics complained were the weakest films in the franchise by far. Although, to be fair to the opposing point of view, the films getting panned might not have been as much about his restricting his creativity by following “The Rules” so strictly. My friend Bill Mulligan is a major Romero fanatic. He has… issues… with the most recent installments of the Dead franchise, but his problem with them are Romero’s seemingly much more clumsy handling of his message of the moment and how he lets that message and the politics behind it get in the way of the storytelling. And I agree with that to a degree, but I also feel like his zombies, now stuck in the mold dictated by “The Rules,” have lost a little something that they had back in the day when he was doing what he wanted to with them to fit the story’s needs and demands.
.
The simple fact is that there really are no rules. Even if you declare that Romero made the genre, which is only half true since even Romero has said that he never intended his creatures to be zombies and that he basically lifted them from I Am Legend before giving them a quick makeover, that only makes them Romero’s rules. It does not set them in stone for all others to follow any more than Stoker’s rules for vampires should have been forced onto Steve Niles or into films like Near Dark. Everyone has a story to tell that’s their story. They have to come up with their rules. If they get the basics right, who really cares if they tweak the rest a bit so long as they tell a solid, entertaining story?
.
But if you just can’t live with that concept, if you absolutely have to piss and moan about it, just frame your bitch fest as what it is. It’s your personal opinion and your personal tastes that you’re arguing and not some set of laid in stone rules. And your view of “The Rules” are just that; they’re yours. They are not anyone else’s and they’re not truly and 100% Romero’s Rules. If you’re a self proclaimed expert, don’t try and go that route. Not only do you come off looking like someone who doesn’t have the courage to let their POV stand as and on its own, but, well, you come off looking like an idiot to anyone else who knows anything about what you’re talking about.
.
So, please, express your opinions as the “experts” you are as much as you want and make all the money you want to. Hey, it’s got to be a bit of a dream gig to make a living doing it. But, please, don’t declare yourself an expert or flaunt your expert status and then turn around and look like a damned fool and an idiot by replacing facts with your own personal opinions and preferences.
.
And if you can’t not do that… Then, please, just STFU about it and stick to the parts of the genre that you like and agree with so that you can stop looking like that to the rest of us.
.
Thank you.
.
Have a happy Halloween.