Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zombie Time!

A week or so ago I may have broken my most recent commitment to not watch rated R movies and saw Zombieland. It was worth it. The movie has elements of both funny and scary. It's a really great mix.

In my reading, there is an author over at NRO that keeps on posting all of these zombie related links. I kind of love him for it. Let me post some of the zombie related things I've come across recently.

This article by actor Simon Pegg discusses the merits of the fast zombie. The second paragraph is my favorite and I also like the he gives the origin of the idea behind zombies:
Still, I had to acknowledge Dead Set's impressive credentials. The concept was clever in its simplicity: a full-scale zombie outbreak coincides with a Big Brother eviction night, leaving the Big Brother house as the last refuge for the survivors. Scripted by Charlie Brooker, a writer whose scalpel-sharp incisiveness I have long been a fan of, and featuring talented actors such as Jaime Winstone and the outstanding Kevin Eldon, the show heralded the arrival of genuine homegrown horror, scratching at the fringes of network television. My expectations were high, and I sat down to watch a show that proved smart, inventive and enjoyable, but for one key detail: ZOMBIES DON'T RUN!

I know it is absurd to debate the rules of a reality that does not exist, but this genuinely irks me. You cannot kill a vampire with an MDF stake; werewolves can't fly; zombies do not run. It's a misconception, a bastardisation that diminishes a classic movie monster. The best phantasmagoria uses reality to render the inconceivable conceivable. The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I'll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It's hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.

More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety. As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.

However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you're careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them - much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares - the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.

Another thing: speed simplifies the zombie, clarifying the threat and reducing any response to an emotional reflex. It's the difference between someone shouting "Boo!" and hearing the sound of the floorboards creaking in an upstairs room: a quick thrill at the expense of a more profound sense of dread. The absence of rage or aggression in slow zombies makes them oddly sympathetic, a detail that enabled Romero to project depth on to their blankness, to create tragic anti-heroes; his were figures to be pitied, empathised with, even rooted for. The moment they appear angry or petulant, the second they emit furious velociraptor screeches (as opposed to the correct mournful moans of longing), they cease to possess any ambiguity. They are simply mean.

So how did this break with convention come about? The process has unfolded with all the infuriating dramatic irony of an episode of Fawlty Towers. To begin at the beginning, Haitian folklore tells of voodoo shamans, or bokors, who would use digitalis, derived from the foxglove plant, to induce somnambulant trances in individuals who would subsequently appear dead. Weeks later, relatives of the supposedly deceased would witness their lost loved ones in a soporific malaise, working in the fields of wealthy landowners, and assume them to be nzambi (a west African word for "spirit of the dead"). From the combination of nzambi and somnambulist ("sleepwalker") we get the word zombie.
If you have any question about the different types of zombies that have been thought up, there is a very helpful Wikipedia page that you can access by going here.

If you're worried about what to do in case of a zombie attack, you can either read this book - The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, or you can watch this nice little video below:

If you don't have time for either of those, maybe you should purchase this t-shirt that gives you a quick and dirty idea of what to do in case of zombies.
If you just want a website and place to talk about all things zombie, then this is the place to go. And if you want to just kill some time, try this game. Although I don't really know how you kill more than one zombie. Or if you want to combine your love of zombies with your passion for classic English literature, try reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

I think that about covers it. So good luck. As long as you follow one or more of the guides, practice your zombie killing kills with that game, and carry with you either a blunt object or gun with many rounds, you should be pretty much okay in the event of a zombie attack.


Laura said...

you broke your commitment to watch Zombieland?? if you are going to break it, at least watch something good. just sayin.

Silvs said...

You obviously don't know what you're talking about because I would definitely do it again for Zombieland. I knew some other people that saw it beforehand so I knew there would be no sex/nudity, but there was little swearing and the gore wasn't even that bad compared to most other horror films. But above all that, it was seriously one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in the past year in the theater. It really was that good.