Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Rant About Zombie Movies

 Zombie from Mindspill

I love me some zombies. Like... forever. Well, not forever. My buddy Rob introduced me to them in high school I think, before that, I wasn't much of a horror movie person, but after watching the original Romeros and a few others, I loved 'em. There was something so terrifying about the idea of something dead walking, mindlessly trying to kill you. A neighbor or friend or family member. This once whole person in shreds, wanting nothing more than to kill you. And what a visceral way too - biting. It's so personal and animalistic. I got bit once in... first grade, I believe. A girl named Brittany bit me on my shin for throwing her friend's snoopy toy on the roof of the cafeteria. Then I had to go into the Principal's office, where I had to pull down my pants so the could look at the bleeding wound. Trauma of two sorts, that.

A funny side note, the girl whose snoopy doll I tossed later dated Rob, just one of the many strange but true coincidences that exist in mid-sized vortex towns in the West.

So maybe I had some sort of ingrained fear of being bitten already, but it just clicked. And now, despite being cliche and all over the place, I still dig the undead bastards. I watch anything I can with them, read novels featuring them, hell, I'm finishing up a novel of my own about them as we speak.

Here's my real problem though. Most zombie movies and books for that matter...well... they bite.A lot are just plain BAD. Poorly written, bad acting, no budget, but most importantly, a lot of them lose track of what really makes zombies scary in the first place. In my opinion, Zombies can be scary one of two ways -

1 - Zombies bring out the horrors lurking within the uninfected man. This is touched on in quite a few flicks, if only to have an excuse for some hillbillies to rape someone or for some gunplay rather than as the main plot with the primary characters. It's the classic Post apocalyptic Mad Max syndrome. I understand this, but to me, it's actually more effective in non-zombie books and movies. If I want to see the true animal in a man released in a tense situation I have other options for that. Not that it makes for a bad movie - Dawn Of The Dead is this kind of flick at times.

2 - Trying to survive as humanity actively devours itself. I LOVE this kind of movie, where people are generally good folks, not he-man commandos, just people surrounded by zombies that used to be people. Survivors that have had to watch their loved ones die, possibly had to kill them to survive. These aren't movies about fighting or explosions or heroes, these are movies about ordinary people trying to find safety and not lose their minds and their humanity in the process. There are not a lot of examples of this done well, in fact, most are pretty dire, but The Night Of The Living Dead and to an extent, Shawn Of The Dead are this kind of movie.

There are other kinds of zombie movies and books, of course, but I don't think they're nearly as effective - Cordoned Off Zombie Territory Missions, Smart Zombies That Learn To Talk, Zombies As An Excuse To Pen People Up In One Place For An Entire Film, that kind of thing, but the worst offender in my opinion is Military Shoot-Em-Up Zombie Movies.

It has no emotion, a lazy excuse for plot and it usually exists solely as an excuse to have bad actors kill lurching shapes for no real reason but to hear BANGs. There's rarely any character development - after all, there are elite military stereotypes, there's rarely any real peril as they have unlimited clips of ammo. The only true conflict usually comes from other military or mean hillbillies. I hate this kind of movie.

Now, don't get me wrong, there's a few good exceptions in each of these, (Except magic talking zombies) but for the most part, they don't scare me. Entertain, sure, but they don't make me double check the locks on my door and sleep with a sledge next to my bed.

Oh yeah, and then there's the classic Voodoo Zombie movies... Which I would love, if they'd ever really made a good one.

What about you? Think I'm off base? Convince me! I'd love to be proven wrong about Military Zombies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

 THE HERMIT by Shutupandwhisper

It's been a while. I apologize for the lack of updates here, between work and life, writing has kind of fallen by the wayside. But no more. I need to take the bull by the horns and realize that if I want to be able to write, I need to find the time to write myself, it isn't going to fall out of the sky. Right now, in addition to THE WHISPERING FERNS, a children's adventure written under the name Kristopher McClanahan, I'm finishing up edits and final work on two adult novels and plot breakdowns on the next, a murder thriller set in the 1960's.

I'm pretty excited about the new book for a couple of reasons. I love the idea, naturally, but it's also the second NaNoWriMo novel I'll have worked on, and I'm using it as the kick-off to getting into a writing routine. It's also the first time I've used a very thorough plot as I write. Usually, I'll write up a brief summary, maybe a page at the most and then let the character's take me on their journey. But this book's a little twistier and I'll need a good outline to keep on track. I also think it will help write faster and more efficiently. We'll see.

So stay tuned. I plan to be a lot more active online, both here and my various other locations (Twitter, Facebook, my occasional reviews for Reviews Of Unusual Size)