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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tapping of the Dead

I arrived at a glum conclusion the other day. When the Zombie Apocalypse comes to pass--it's really a question of when, not if--I doubt I'll survive it. The Tapping of the Dead: Deluxe Edition app for the iPhone and iPod touch only underscored my grim findings. If I can't defeat a crudely drawn, badly animated zombie by tapping my finger furiously for 12 seconds, what hope to I have against stinking hordes of the undead crashing through my patio door? more


Zombie Infestation: Strain 116

Days after a meteorite fell in the outskirts of a small town, people started changing into mindless “zombies.” It is believed that an alien virus, Strain 116, was the cause of the chaos.

You and your men, an elite team from the special forces, were sent in to kill the Carrier, who is believed to be the host of the virus. After much struggle though, all you team members have perished.

Now, alone and trapped within the dark and eerie confines of an abandoned bomb shelter, you must brave the hordes of the undead; kill the carrier, and get out alive. more


Friday, February 27, 2009

Movie Review: 28 Days Later

28 Days Later is a really good zombie flick.

Despite all those distractions, I STILL thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It combines elements of Night of the Living Dead, but it does them better. Like in the remake of Night of the Living Dead, the director makes a statement about mn killing man -- is it okay to have fun shooting people when they're zombies?

They're not really zombies, of course. They're victims of a disease called "Rage" that turns you into a murderous killing machine. These are still people though -- they can be shot, set on fire, and starved to death.
  • Cool Device #1: Main character wakes up from a coma. We're as clueless as he is.
  • Cool Device #2: It takes place in deserted London. It's a plague that spreads fast. I imagine it spread to all of England, actually. Sort of like Vanilla Sky in NYC. It's probably not even as creepy for Americans, as we don't live or visit there very often.
  • Cool Device #3: Rage can be transmitted by any bodily fluid exchange, blood being the most likely.
  • Cool Device #4: Rage takes 20 seconds to take effect. Whenever you think a character gets infected, you subconsciously being counting to 20. This keeps the audience perpetually on edge.
Eventually, the protagonist and his companions find a military base and we expect the movie to end. Only the message here is that being with the military (the supposed savior of the people) is actually WORSE than being with the zombies.

This movie was done before, and the parallels between the two are quite amazing. The movie: Resident Evil! Of all things, Resident Evil -- a true-blue zombie flick -- didn't pull off horror nearly as well as 28 Days Later. But they have the same elements:

28 Days Later/Resident Evil
  • Protagonist wakes up in hospital with no idea what happened/Protagonist wakes up in a deserted house with no idea what happened
  • Movie begins with protagonist in a completely deserted city (London)/Movie ends with protagonist in a completely deserted city (Raccoon City)
  • Movie begins with protagonist naked in hospital/Movie ends with protagonist naked in hospital
  • Zombies get shot by a military agency (UK military) sent to eliminate them /Zombies get shot by a military agency (Umbrella, if I remember correctly) to eliminate them
  • Zombie disease spread by infection (20 seconds)/Zombie disease spread by infection (uh, more than 20 seconds)
  • Two females end up running around in red dresses/Female protagonist runs around entire movie in red dress (thank you Mila!)

So what did 28 Days Later do right as a horror movie? Well, it's a horror movie for one. To clarify, it focuses on horror. Zombies are scary enough, but they alone do not a good horror flick make. There needs to be more. And the director (the same one who made Trainspotting) has no problems going "there."

"There" is watching a father figure turn into a zombie and being forced to kill him. "There" is bashing a zombie child's head in with a bat. "There" is being attacked by a priest who's a zombie. "There" is having one of your friends turn zombie and -- instead of the old, "I refuse to kill my friend" -- brutally hacking him to bits.

28 Days Later succeeds because it ignores horror conventions. There is none of the angst associated with a person turning into a zombie. Hell, even Night of the Creeps had that. No, 28 Days Later succeeds because the director isn't a horror filmmaker. He knows that collapse of basic human decency is what's horrifying, not zombies.

Don't get me wrong, Resident Evil kicks ass. But it's a science fiction action movie. This is real horror, the way it was meant to be made. See it, you won't be sorry.


The Evil Dead Companion

The Evil Dead Companion is about the movie, Evil Dead. If you haven't seen it, you should see Evil Dead II (funnier and not quite as disturbing). Then, if you're drunk, see Army of Darkness. Then come back to this review -- it won't make much sense otherwise.

In the bookstore, I picked up the Evil Dead Companion, flipped through it, and put it back down. It seemed mildly interesting, but it didn't have enough to hold my attention. I forgot about it.

Then for Christmas, lo and behold, Maleficent bought it for me. So I figured it'd be worth a good read, especially in fleshing out my D20 Modern supplement, Evil Dead: Swallow This! If you don't know what that is, 1) shame on you, 2) visit my web site for more details.

Bill Warren's a fan of Raimi and Bruce and co. A big fan. In fact, he's so much of a fan, there's a slant to the material that wasn't quite hard-hitting enough for my tastes. I submit this evidence at the end of the book:

These guys from Detroit are among the most decent, likeable people this writer has ever met, and it has been an enormous pleasure, one of the greatest of my professional life, to have been associated with them.
Okay, WHOA. I really like Bruce Campbell. When I finally do meet him, I'll proably make a stuttering idiot of myself. But come on now. Even if this is true, and I'm sure it is, would you be quite so effusive with the praise?

Also, a good chunk of the book -- pages 180 through 251 -- is a summary of the script with commentary from Bruce. Some if it's interesting. Some of it is irritating in its lack of specifics. It's not the REAL script, it's a summary.

But I'm griping about things that ultimately should be meaningless to a true-blue (true-red?) fan of Evil Dead. The book actually is more about the first movie, Evil Dead, than Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness because...well because that's what Sam and Bruce wanted to talk about most.

The stories are funny. Sam takes a wicked glee in abusing Bruce. And the early days of filming were hell -- literally and cinematically. The behind the scenes stuff is interesting.

The writer makes a half-hearted attempt to make the book an inspirational tale. The idea being that if Sam can do it, you can do it. But that isn't true at all. These friends were all connected to other people who were hell-bent on making movies too. In short, the average hopeful filmmaker is probably NOT working with a bunch of other guys who were ultimately making it on their own. In my experience, the average filmmaker is a kid in a basement trying to film stuff on his own. Sam and Bruce were talented guys with a level of desperation and daring most sane people aren't willing to go. And oh yeah, they don't appear to have had long-term relationships at the time either.

The book's becoming rapidly outdated. I checked all the web sites listed in the back and over 50% of them are gone. The game mentioned, Hail to the King, came and went.

In short, if you're an Evil Dead fan, you will enjoy this book. A lot of the quotes are taken from other sources vs. interviewing (I can write a book that way too, duh), but there's enough hidden gems that make it worthwhile. If you're not that big a fan, this book will probably bore you pretty quickly.


Movie Review: Shaun of the Dead

The zombie genre has been done to (ahem) death by now. Sam Raimi proved that it could be a successful vehicle for launching more expensive films with Evil Dead. Since then, there's been an endless array of less engaging imitators, often confusing gore with content.

Zombie movies can be summed up in exactly the same way. The difference is in the inflection. Don't believe me? Let me demonstrate...

  • ZOMBIE TROPE #1: "Zombie movies are about SHAMBLING dead people." These zombie movies laugh at the absolute absurdity of the walking dead. I mean, they're dead and they stumble around like DRUNK people for crying out loud! How can you take anything serious that moans like an overly hormonal teenager on prom night, lolls its head to the side like a Valley girl, and can't even walk in a straight line? Zombies definitely have a lot of humor potential, as established in Evil Dead II. The shamble is one of the primary reasons that modern zombie movies have made their zombies move quickly-it's hard to take slow moving zombies seriously.
  • ZOMBIE TROPE #2: "Zombie movies are about shambling DEAD people." These zombie movies concentrate on the horrors of what it means to have corpses trying to eat you. It is visceral and disgusting. There is gore (dead bodies are gross) and decay. These zombies are rotting and, thanks to the magic of special effects, really do look like exhumed corpses. This is just about every zombie movie that takes itself seriously without devolving into camp.
  • ZOMBIE TROPE #3: "Zombie movies are about shambling dead PEOPLE." These zombie movies aren't about the zombies. They're about how people react to the fact that people they knew who were dead are walking around trying to eat other people. The presence of zombies causes people to freak out. Some folks are barely over their mourning when their spouses and children rise up to attack them. It's enough to make a person snap. It's also George Romero's specialty, a topic he has extensively covered in the Living Dead series.

Recent zombie movies have been combinations of these three attributes, but rarely in equal balance. Shaun of the Dead? It's all three.

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is the hero of the title, a fellow who has long since exited the swinging college years and entered into the stale, zombie-like grind of a working man. He is a man out of time, frozen in his own routines. He still lives with his two flatmates, Ed (Nick Frost), the fat, funny one and Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), the smart, successful one. Shaun is trapped, unable to go back to the good old days of no responsibility and unwilling to go forward with his relationship to his blonde girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield).

Meanwhile, ambulances start popping up in the background, carting away twitching body bags.

The outcome of their situation is an inevitability that we've all witnessed before: Liz has had enough. She doesn't want to keep going to the same old pub every night: the Winchester, named after the rifle on the wall. She hates Shaun's best friend Ed, who is an offensive boor. And Shaun hates Liz's good friends Dianne (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran). As it turns out, David used to date Liz and just tolerates Dianne so he can be near her.

Meanwhile, paramilitary vehicles drive by and newscasters report troubling news about some sort of plague.

And oh yeah, Shaun loves his mum (Nicola Cunningham) and hates his step-dad, Philip (Bill Nighy), a perpetually frowning robot of a man whose face has been untouched by any other expression.

When Liz finally gets sick of Shaun, his world falls apart. He goes on a drunken binge with Ed, blasting music, playing video games, and shutting out the world around him. In essence, Shaun's life has finally gone out of joint and he desperately regresses to deal with it. Unfortunately for Shaun (and everyone else in that part of England), the world has also literally fallen apart.

A large part of the humor is how Shaun and his compatriots deal with the undead. It takes a very long time for him to even notice; after all, who would really notice slow moving people? The director, Edgar Wright, gleefully makes this point at every turn. At first, the zombies are just the homeless, who everybody ignores and expects to act strangely. Then, it's people in menial jobs that have a glazed look as they go about their drudgery. It's not until a zombie actually shows up on their doorstep that anybody gets concerned. Even then, they figure the zombie is just really, really drunk.

Once Shaun and Ed come to grips with the situation, they devise a plan. Their plans are highly unrealistic, but mostly involve beating on zombies with clubs (remember, no guns in England), rescuing girlfriends and mums, and holing up in the Winchester, "cause it's the safest place." That's right, the one place Liz doesn't want to be with the people she really doesn't want to be with.

Shaun of the Dead embraces all the zombie tropes, and then rips their guts out. Sure, the movie seems to say, it's easy to get around slow moving zombies. But eventually they catch up with you. Sure, smashing a zombie's head in sounds easy...until it's a family member. Sure, shooting a zombie with a rifle should give you the upper hand...unless you've never actually shot a gun before.

In the mean time, Shaun deals with his issues with his step-dad, introduces his girlfriend to his mom, meets an ex-girlfriend (who seems to be far more capable than Liz), finally gets tired of drug-dealing Ed's antics, and slowly realizes just how fragile his humdrum life is. It seems to encapsulate his mom, Liz, and Ed at first, but Shaun discovers that his circle of family and friends extends to more people than he thought.

This movie is deadly earnest about everything, including its humor. It has traumatizing gore, hysterical in-jokes, and weep-worthy moments of true drama. All of it is pulled off with incredible aplomb by the cast, who have to do everything from beat on zombies to act like zombies (no, really) to finally going utterly ballistic like real human beings.

Shaun of the Dead is the culmination of dozens of zombie movies that have gone before it. It succeeds because it focuses on the people, gives shambling corpses the respect they deserve (which is to say, very little and a lot, depending on the scene), and dramatizes the horror of dead people coming back to a tortured semi-existence.

No self-respecting horror fan should miss this movie.


Zombie Film: Dozers

Indie moviemaker Don Adams gave Fango the exclusive first look at the updated trailer (with additional zombie action) and some photos from DOZERS, his latest collaboration with fellow writer/director/producer Harry James Picardi. more


Zombie Governors

The infection is spreading! As if Zombie Banks weren't bad enough, governors are getting infected too. more


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Zombies Attack Time Warner Cable in SoCal

Time Warner came under assault from zombies. Again. Zombie computers that is. more


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paper Zombies

Oh come on, you know you want a cereal box zombie of your very own!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Nick Ozment's Book Review: World War Z

That is the power Brooks wields, and in so doing he makes a contribution to gothic literature as powerful and as timely for the twenty first century as Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde was for the nineteenth or Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby was for the twentieth. By tapping into viable fears and present dangers, Brooks instills his imaginary bogeymen with real terror and menace. These are our worst fears given tangible form, dressed up in mythical drag: walking corpses bringing infection to our homes, invading our safe havens and reminding us viscerally with their dripping flesh and ravaged skulls that in the world we live in, there really is no such place: no haven is truly safe. [MORE]


Book Review: The Dead

I met Mark Rogers at a fiction convention. Bored and sensing a kindred spirit, I hung around Mark's table, a little lost in the swirl of all the agents, publishers, and hopeful authors like myself.

When I mentioned that I write book reviews, Mark offered me not just one book, but all of them - literally, the entire pile of books he had on his table. I just couldn't do take him up on his offer; as much as I'd love to write reviews for all of his books, the odds of me finishing any of them in a reasonable period of time (say, before I see him again in a year at another convention) were low. So I only picked up a few. Then he asked me the magic question: "Are there are any in particular you're interested in?"

I pointed at The Dead, with its disturbing cover of a wicked-looking dead man. And thus I became acquainted with Mark's style of horror.

Mark is what I like to call a double-threat. Mark's not just an artist; he's an amazing talent reminiscent of Frank Frazetta. After reading The Dead, it's apparent that he's also an exceptional author. It just isn't fair!

When I picked up The Dead, Mark warned me "there are typos." That's not entirely true. I found only one actual misspelling. But something happened during layout, such that every few paragraphs two words run together. Somehow, these kinds of errors offend me far less than misspellings.

I expected a zombie book. In fact, I was intrigued how one writes a zombie-themed novel. After awhile the zombies have to get a little boring, right? What I got instead was something completely different: a good old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone tale of the apocalypse, complete with the dead walking the earth to claim souls for Hell.

The Dead is basically a morality play, detailing the efforts of a few tough characters strong enough to survive. All the familiar apocalyptic elements are here, from nature reclaiming technology to good people suddenly spirited away to Heaven, from preachers touting the end of the world to survivalists loaded with artillery. They're all front and center in The Dead, and Mark gleefully kills them off one by one.

Mark's greatest skill is in his imagery. He has an artist's talent for visualizing the indescribable; his description of the palpable evil that one of the zombies gives off, like "that scene in Indiana Jones where the Nazi pugilist is about to hit the whirling blade" will stick with me for the rest of my life. Mark doesn't just describe events; he actually paints pictures of them in your mind, filling in every color and texture.

The book isn't perfect, however. Some characters (notably the wife of the protagonist) seem undeveloped, while others (Steve) show up out of nowhere. The events of the world are summarized in narration rather than left a mystery, which detracts from some of the horror. For those seeking definitive answers as to which side Rogers comes down on philosophically, he dodges the question: what happens to all those folks who aren't Christian? Good question...

Still, The Dead is a terrifying tale, especially so for Roman Catholics with a healthy dose of Italian guilt. You'll never look at your zombies the same way again.


Game Review: Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse

The plot may be a bit simplistic, but at various points it's hilarious. The game makes effective use of its Mature rating by having characters swear and alluding to naughty situations (go Stubbs!). Speaking of the plot, every zombie movie has its homage in Stubbs: from battling rednecks in cornfields to attacking shoppers in a mall. The various characters react accordingly…they freak out when they see zombies, but can carry on hilarious dialogue until then. Military types actively hunt down Stubbs and work together. This is a living, breathing universe.

One that deserves to have its brain eaten for sure. [MORE]


Game Review: Dead Rising

  • DAY -35: Just saw an ad for Dead Rising. So jazzed! The main character kills shambling zombies in a mall with baseball bats, an umbrella, and a chainsaw. Chainsawing zombie goodness, baby! WOOHOO!
  • DAY 0: Just got the game. YES! Popped it in and started playing. The main character reminds me of Andrew Dice Clay from The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, only sized like a linebacker.
  • DAY 1: What the...the text is so small! I can't read anything!
  • DAY 2: Oh for the love of...Dead Rising is for HD televisions only. I can't read what Otis keeps calling me about, so I can't play the game. Sigh.
  • DAY 32: My brother was over for dinner and when he looked at my flat screen television in the basement, he pointed out that it's actually a high def television. Yes, I'm an idiot. Back to Dead Rising!
  • DAY 33: Woohoo, this rocks! So many zombies to kill! And not just zombies; the game is full of psychopaths too. I killed a clown with chainsaws, some big fat cop who looks like Kathy Kinney (from The Drew Carey Show), a pyromaniac who looks like Weird Al, and a weird raincoat/green mask-wearing cult that totally freaks me out. I'm a little behind on the main missions but the game hasn't ended yet so I figure I'm good.
  • DAY 34: I hate this game so much. I spent hours playing it and when I got back to the security office, the game ended and said I had missed a deadline. Information that would have been useful YESTERDAY! Maybe I'll sell it.
  • DAY 37: Okay, back on track. It's really upsetting that I don't have time to save all the survivors. So I of course only save the hot chicks. And this one old lady because I love my grandma (God rest her soul). A couple of times I accidentally killed one of the survivors with a sledgehammer when I was trying to kill a zombie. Mental note: people and sledgehammers don't mix.
  • DAY 38: OH. MY. GOD. The game just crashes at random times. It says the disc is dirty. Only the disc isn't dirty. My theory is that the game uses a huge amount of processor speed, and since I have a refurbished 360, they dialed back the processing power so the Xbox doesn't overheat anymore. Which means Dead Rising crashes it every few times. I am so selling this game, screw this!
  • DAY 40: It seems like there's some sort of plot to produce cattle...that led to creating zombies in a little town outside the U.S. The main psychopath decided to reveal the U.S. government's illegal experiments by unleashing the zombie plague at a mall to make a statement. It doesn't really make too much sense. Worse, there are multiple endings and I missed the chopper pick-up time on the roof of the mall. I'm going to start over from my last save point (which is few and far between). I'm starting to really hate this game.
  • DAY 42: I did it! Almost. Now the U.S. military is "cleaning up" the operation by killing everyone. Gee, glad I went through all the trouble to save all the hot chicks. Oh well, a few katana slices takes care of them nicely. But then there's this long battle with a tank and then some military guy who is impossible to beat. I think I'll just sell this game.
  • DAY 43: My wife said, "After all this complaining about the game, you BETTER finish it." So okay, I'm gonna finish it.
  • DAY 44: I did it! I beat the main bad guy by spinning around like a top, backslapping the bad guy with what has to be the stupidest move in gaming combat history. But I beat Dead Rising! Take that, only-one-save slot! Take that, crashing-all-the-time processor! Take that, stupid forced story-timeline! I did it! I did it! Did I mention I love this game?


Review: Land of the Dead

I've seen all of George A. Romero's zombie movies, starting with Night of the Living Dead (NOTLD), and found them a little boring. To be fair, this is because everyone's been ripping off Night of the Living Dead since he created NOTLD, so what appears to be tired zombie fare to my jaded eyes is actually what Romero started.

Zombies in Night of the Living Dead are slow, shambling, recently dead people. There are no running zombies here. They can spread their contagion with a bite. The only way to stop them is by blowing their brains out (or stabbing them in the brain, or setting their brains on fire, you get the idea). This traditional zombie trope has been done to death (pun intended), such that it's become a bit difficult to take slow moving zombies seriously.

Zombies were originally conceived as allegories first, horror monsters second. The strength of Night of the Living Dead wasn't just the terror of cannibalistic strangers assaulting a home; it was the threat of the unwashed masses overwhelming the middle class. The zombies in Romero's movies are slow, but they are relentless, and their numbers are legion. Never mind that you can outrun them...eventually, they will catch up to you. Who's worse: the zombies outside or the people who will do anything to survive on the inside? We know Romero's answer.

This class warfare was further explored in Dawn of the Dead, where we had the comedic "shopping zombies." The film established that zombies struggle to recapture their old life, shambling aimlessly about in shopping malls...sort of like what they did when they were alive anyway. Dawn of the Dead posited: Are zombies any different from uninvolved and unaware living citizens? We know Romero's answer.

By Day of the Dead, we had the other side of the coin. The previous films followed the travails of pockets of civilization and their struggle for survival. In Day of the Dead, humanity's last hope is sequestered in a military installation. There, scientists struggle to discover a cure, wage a philosophical (and sometimes physical) battle. We're also introduced to Bub, a zombie who can learn. Can the lower classes become better through education? We know Romero's answer.

Land of the Dead is the fourth movie in the series, and this time there's far less claustrophobia. Whereas the first three movies centered on human protagonists holing up in a farmhouse, mall, or military base, the humans in Land of the Dead live in a city. And this city has the full range of human triumph and misery, from its slums to a glittering tower known as Fiddler's Green. Lorded over by Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), it's a microcosm of society: white socialites in suits dine at the top of the tower while the poor mingle in all manner of vices, many of them supported by an easy supply of non-humans: the zombies.

But even the most powerful city has to be powered somehow, and ruthless scavengers (who drive an armored tank known as Dead Reckoning) stock Fiddler's Green. This miracle of modern technology has a front-mounted gatling gun, missile launchers, nightvision, and armor plating. It's just what you'd want if you were fighting zombies. Riley (Simon Baker...wait, not that Simon Baker) lead his team, along with his cheeky second in command, Cholo (John Leguizamo). Charlie (Robert Joy), who is mentally disabled and disfigured, follows Riley around like a puppy. He also happens to be a crack shot. There's also an ex-hooker named Slack (Asia Argento) who provides an audience point of view to the whole situation, but seems primarily to be there as a thank you to her infamous horror movie producer father, Dario Argento.

The opening scene, wherein Riley and Cholo demonstrate different interpretations of the term "critical supplies," sums up the movie's ethos very quickly. Cholo thinks booze and smokes are critical because they might gain him some influence with Kaufman, maybe even letting the mercenary move into Fiddler's Green. Conversely, Riley wants to get antibiotics for the sick child of his friend. Both men believe it will be their last mission amongst the "stenchers," the phrase the humans use for the zombies.

But there's more to the zombies than meets the eye. A former gas station attendant turned zombie, Big Daddy (Eugene Clark), is a "zombie lord" of sorts. He is self-aware and capable of learning, just like Bub. He remembers parts of his old life and, more importantly, sympathizes with his zombie brethren. When they are wounded, he is outraged. Most frightening of all, Big Daddy can teach the other zombies what he knows. It doesn't take long before he leads a zombie rebellion-straight towards Fiddler's Green.

When Cholo discovers that his boss will never give him a place in Fiddler's Green, no matter how many troublemakers he murders (along with the zombies), things turn ugly. Cholo steals Dead Reckoning and drives off with the intent of holding the city hostage until he gets enough money to start his own city. Ironically, Riley has the same plans, but discovers his car is stolen...because Kaufman wants him to stay. Kaufman then promises Riley his freedom if he steals Dead Reckoning back before Cholo blows up the whole city.

Land of the Dead is surprisingly engaging; it's probably the first pro-zombie movie ever, casting the undead as sympathetic, pathetic, and clearly underclass: they are butchers, musicians, and yes, gas station attendants. And as the zombies become more self aware, they lust for what the humans already have...more than just flesh, but their homes. At first, fireworks awe the stenchers. But eventually, even that is not enough to preoccupy them.

Romero knows his zombies well and films them in all their alternately gory, comedic and yes sometimes-beautiful glory. We watch zombies from a God's-eye view, when they look only like everyday citizens, wandering about. We see zombie and anguished citizens alike in a writhing pile of corpses and teeth. Everywhere, Romero never lets us forgot that if you squint your eyes just enough, a zombie looks just like a person. And if you can confuse the two, maybe things aren't so black and white as life and death, "living" and "stencher."

The parallels to modern day are a bit more subtle than say, Revenge of the Sith. But they're still there. Kaufman "refuses to negotiate with terrorists." The zombie life seems almost idyllic before the tank-like Dead Reckoning invades from Fiddler's Green, blowing the zombie-citizens to smithereens. It becomes rapidly apparent that Romero wants us to see the zombies not just as undead foils or evil monsters, but as people. And if they are capable of thought, then do the supposedly civilized humans have the right to shoot them in the head and take their resources?

We know Romero's answer.

Land of the Dead is a traditional zombie film with a lot to say. Kids accustomed to the 2004 Dawn of the Dead-speed of horror will undoubtedly be disappointed. But for adults who want a bit more from zombies than just dead people, Land of the Dead is lively indeed. StatCounter - Free Web Tracker and Counter


Review: Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The first Resident Evil movie was a homage to zombie movies that have gone before. And Aliens. And a few other movies thrown in for good measure. It had a creepy girl, zombies, long-tongued monsters, carnivorous dogs, and Alice (Milla Jovovich) with lots of firepower.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse has all of those things, but none of the spunk. Where the first movie had a relentless ambiance of terror, Apocalypse is a juiced up action horror without much horror.

PLEASE NOTE: This review contains spoilers, but that's sort of like saying "water might be wet"--everything I explain here is painfully obvious from the start of the film. So read at your own risk, but you're not risking much...

Where we last left Alice, she and the other survivor of the movie, Matt Addison (Eric Mabius), were captured by the evil Umbrella Corporation for experimentation. When she awoke, nobody was left alive in the hospital (shades of 28 Days Later). So Alice does what she always does in an uncertain situation…she grabs a shotgun.

Meanwhile, the entire city has been infected with the T-virus, a biological weapon that 1) mutates Alice into a superhuman killing machine, 2) turns poor Matt into Nemesis, a muscle-bound gun-toting juggernaut, 3) turns people into zombies, 4) turns dogs into zombies, 5) allows a little girl (Angie Ashford, played by Sophie Vavasseur) to walk, 6) did I mention it turns people into zombies?

So what does Umbrella do? What all authorities do in a zombie movie: they seal off Raccoon City and call in the nukes (shades of Return of the Living Dead).

Also running about trapped in the city is a cast of stereotypes: the hot police chick (Jill Valentine, played by Sienna Guillory who fails miserably at disguising her British accent), the hot military dude (Carlos Olivera, played by Oded Fehr), and the funny black guy who swears a lot (L.J., played by Mike Epps). After lots of grandstanding, swearing, amazingly accurate zombie head shots, and a lot of confusion, the plot finally gets going when Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris) gives them a mission.

Using his amazing "personnel locator" that only seems to work for Dr. Ashford, he discovers that Angie is holed up in her school, all by herself. We're not sure exactly how this is possible, but never you mind…what matters is Ashford hacks into the entire Raccoon City network and is able to view what's going on from every video camera and microphone. He then calls our heroes with a deal: if they agree to get his little girl out of the city, he will tell them how to escape.

The means of escape is through a helicopter. That's it. That's the big plan. Hijack a helicopter. But of course, it's all a trap, and ultimately Alice and Nemesis must duke it out…for some reason. Something about the perfect weapon, yadda yadda.

There are a lot of neat graphical touches throughout the film. Alice's bullets have little Umbrella Corp. icons on them. The helicopters are painted with the Umbrella Corp. logo. And the end of the film (and subsequent cover-up of the nuclear blast) is entertaining in the same way that the rise of a zombie outbreak was entertaining in Shaun of the Dead. Which is to say it's awful, but you enjoy it anyway.

But that's it. Alice is far too much of a superhero to make us feel concerned about her survival. There are too many characters to keep track of without enough plot development to care about them (Carlos seems to have no actual value at all, less so than even L.J.'s offensive portrayal as a black gangsta). And for some reason, Alice's every move is punctuated by a whiplash sound that quickly gets tiresome.

There's a lot of slow motion action sequences, a lot of blue lensing, and a lot of freeze-frame shots of weapons dropping to the ground. The director (Alexander Witt) is new to directing a film on his own. He doesn't seem to know what to do with Paul W.S. Anderson's script, and it shows.

The movie drags on and on and on long after it should end, such that it feels a lot like you're watching the third film (an inevitability). By that time I had lost interest. When the most interesting part of a film is Jill Valentine's miniskirt, it's hard to care about Alice's fate. StatCounter - Free Web Tracker and Counter


Humans vs. Zombies Back on Campus

The game, in essence, is a heavily modified game of tag. Though the Henderson game sports a hefty rule set, spanning almost seven pages, the main rules can be boiled down to a paragraph. The game starts out with all players being "humans." One player is selected to be the first "zombie." This zombie must go out and tag the humans. Once a human is tagged, he or she becomes another zombie. Humans prevent zombies from tagging them by blasting them with their Nerf guns or tossing balled-up socks at them. A successful blast results in a 15-minute freeze time, ala freeze tag. Zombies "die" when they do not tag someone for two days. The game ends when one of the following happens: when all the zombies "die" or when all the humans become zombies. more


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Understanding Zombie Banks

Zombie banks are banks that appear to be healthy and appropriately capitalized right now but will be viewed as insolvent in the future once investors know the true value of their assets. In other words, as you will see in the What are Zombie Banks video, zombie banks are banks that are going about their day-to-day business as if everything is okay today but will be forced to close their doors in the future when everyone realizes they don't have as much money as they thought they did. more


Hackers Crack Into Texas Road Sign, Warn of Zombies Ahead


Zombie Food Chain


I Was a Regency Zombie

These days, America is menaced by zombie banks and zombie computers. What’s next, a zombie Jane Austen? In fact, yes. more


Our Zombie Can Kick Your Zombie's Ass!

You heard us right. Our pet zombie Mikey can kick your zombie's no-brain-having, odiferous, saggy, crusty, rotting, decomposing zombie's ass! If you think you have what it takes to beat our zombie (we keep him in a cage in our basement), then bring it on tough guy! Or gal! more


Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead

Zombie CSU is nonfiction pop-culture that brings together two of the most popular themes in current entertainment: crime scene investigation and zombies. The book includes short interviews and essays on the step-by-step procedures used by forensics experts and law enforcement agencies to address an outbreak of the living dead. Though the premise is certainly fantastical, the book’s core information is hard science and accurate investigative techniques, beginning with the first-on-scene police, through the CSU phase, then into speculation on how Federal authorities would deal with a potential plague, especially if the basis for zombies was biological in nature (a bacteria or other disease vector to be determined) and what steps would be taken to keep this out of the hands of terrorists. Using a “what if?” approach, the book includes interviews, comments, FAQs and Q&As with actual scientists, crime scene investigators, pathologists, medical doctors, psychologists, physicists, etc.


War and Social Upheaval Cause Spikes in Zombie Movie Production

Is there really a connection between zombie movies and social unrest? We decided to do some research and find out. The result? We've got a line graph showing the number of zombie movies coming out in the West each year since 1910 — and there are definite spikes during certain years, which always seem to happen eerily close to historical events involving war or social upheaval. more


Welcome to Our New Blog!

The NCRPC is kicking off a new year of zombie hunting in 2009 and to celebrate, our site has been updated! Zombies everywhere would be cowering in fear if they understood the consequences of what this means to their undead existence. But they don't even read, much less browse the web, so we figure it's okay to share. more