Posted in Monday Mayhem

I Hated Zombies, Too

I’ve related several times on this site that as a kid I never really liked zombies. In fact, if anything, I hated them. I thought they were slow, easy to beat and in some way, a comedy waiting to happen. How could I have loved them? They just weren’t cool. But once I saw 28 Days Later, that all changed. I couldn’t get enough of them. They were fast. Frightening. And unbeatable. One bite and you’re one of them.

Zombies everywhere [Photo Credit: el-grimlock]
Zombies everywhere [Photo Credit: el-grimlock]
For today’s Monday Mayhem, I would like to talk a bit about my experience with zombies, what I like about them and their appeal to my sense of adventure.

Through cartoons is how I remember zombies. I didn’t take them seriously since they were slow and not very bright. I remember how the heroes could outrun and outfox them at every turn. I even remember how with one wallop zombies fell to the floor without much trouble.

Early this decade I had my first zombie encounter with 28 Days Later. The scene with the lone survivor walking the streets of London instantly captured my imagination. I could relate to him. Who couldn’t? Imagine waking up and finding your world turned into a massive garbage dump complete with a built-in threat that you’re not sure how it got that way. The movie introduced me to fast zombies and a genre teeming with films I once had ignored in the video store.

28 Days Later poster
28 Days Later poster

After binge watching 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later back to back, I couldn’t get enough of the undead. To me, they were like roaches. The more you killed the more they infested every facet of your life. I quickly watched Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead in one sitting. Dawn of the Dead especially left me wanting to watch it again. And I did. The story was not altogether unique, but the delivery of the plot came as a surprise. The rooftop scene brought me to tears from the laughter. It surprised me and shocked me.

During this time, The Walking Dead caught my attention.

Whatever I’ve learned from the other zombie movies came full circle with The Walking Dead. I had gone from not liking slow zombies to loving fast zombies to appreciating slow zombies. The Walking Dead featured slow zombies called walkers. Not only were they lethal, as in one bite will kill you lethal, but whenever they attacked, they attacked as a massive horde. I grew to love the walkers. They are what zombies should have been when I was growing up.

Then, with the movie World War Z, the crowd of zombies burned tread marks on the highway. They looked like vampires amped up on speed. The film raised my imagination and kept me busy consuming any and all stories in the zombie genre.

How far has my love for the undead gone? Today, I write about zombies.

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What initially sparked your interest in zombies? What do you find the most appealing thing about them?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why I Love Zombies

It’s spring break here in Canada, so I thought I’d give you a treat today. Rather than a laborious tome of sorts you have to work through, I’m going to give you something different to chew on (‘scuse the pun).

Toronto Zombie Walk 2014 [Photo credit: Igor Baranov, SolarWorksArt.com]
Toronto Zombie Walk 2014 [Photo credit: Igor Baranov, SolarWorksArt.com]
For today’s Monday Mayhem article, I’m going to scrawl a list of reasons why I think zombies are cool. A single list. No elaborate references. No major theories—although that would be cool, too.

Here we go:

  • There are fast zombies for some of us and there are slow zombies for some of us.
  • They’re Horror’s biological Terminators.
  • Once they see something they want, they never surrender pursuing it.
  • The genre is always changing.
  • A virus that can turn people into the undead is a pretty scary thing.
  • A shotgun is the weapon of choice for many zombie slayers.
  • Zombies make great crash test dummies.
  • Zombies can’t swim.
  • Zombies can’t fly either, unless you throw them off a cliff. But even then…
  • A Louisville Slugger, popcorn and a horde of zombies make for a fun evening staying in.
  • A lot of thought goes into pulling off a memorable zombie kill.
  • A narrow alley, a truck and a crowd of undead proves you don’t need a shotgun to kill them.
  • Sharks and zombies share many similarities.
  • Throwing a zombie from a plane still doesn’t prove they can fly.
  • Zombies vs. Skunks. I still say skunks would win.
  • They’ll keep pounding on the door no matter how many chairs you put in front of it.
  • They don’t take no for an answer.
  • Running up a tree doesn’t guarantee your safety. You’ll eventually have to come down.
  • If the undead is slow, you can outrun them in a field. Inside a building, you are dead.
  • A chain-linked fence provides a great deterrent against the undead.
  • A woman with a samurai sword rocks.
  • A woman with a shotgun rocks even harder.
  • A zombie bite does not make you a vampire.
  • Zombies never have to use a restroom.
  • They aren’t very smart even though they know how to open a door.
  • Much like wolves, the undead hunt in packs.
  • They have an acute sense of hearing.
  • Zombies don’t eat hamburger. Seriously, they don’t!

That’s all there is to it. These are the reasons I love zombies. Now it’s your turn.

[Thank you Igor Baranov for granting JackFlacco.com the use of your 2014 Toronto Zombie Walk photography for this article.]

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Why do you love zombies?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Zombies and My Beliefs

My wife recently received an appointment as Children’s Ministry Coordinator for our church. Her enthusiasm for the scriptures has given her an opportunity to serve in a way she didn’t expect. She’s currently aiding with the program’s Sunday curriculum and presentations. I have to say, I’m extremely proud of all that she’s accomplished in the short time she has served in the kid’s ministry.

Writing about zombies
Writing about zombies

With that on my mind, I’ll make today’s Freedom Friday post a short one. I’d like to talk about my beliefs and how I reconcile the fact that I write about zombies.

Before I go on, let me get something out of the way first. I’m writing this post with the intention of not offending anyone. I’m sure I will, but I don’t mean to. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, I shouldn’t say whatever’s on my mind. But because you’re my fans, I’d like to provide an added dimension to who I am–not only as a writer, but as a person.

Right. Moving along.

I get this question a lot. When I say a lot, I mean über-times. The question I receive is this: How can I write about zombies if I believe in a higher power? More specifically–how can I write about horror if I believe in God?

My answer is always the same. I write about sin. Rather, I write about the effects of sin in a godless society. This is where you as the reader either stop reading, or continue reading with the goal of trying to understand what I just said. I’m sure whatever you decide to do, I will know by the response I receive at the end of this post.

I write about zombies as a type of sin that has spread throughout society. Given sin is the breaking of God’s law, lawlessness left unchecked will produce a society where sin corrupts and kills the good. Similarly, zombies as typified sin, spread their corruption, in this case their undead state, to others by means of close contact. Without salvation, all of humanity will die. Hence, the only thing to redeem humanity from sin is the shedding of blood.

My definition of a zombie apocalypse is not about how gory the story can become, but about good versus evil. In other words, how far has sin progressed in the story that the hero–the savior–can appear and redeem the remaining few who have chosen not to allow sin to enter into their lives?

To me, zombies also represent people dead in sin. I’m talking about those folks who roam about shackled to a life of bitter slavery. They have no concept of an existence beyond themselves, and their idea of living is waking up every morning to continue a life better left unchallenged. Eventually, zombies will rot until there’s nothing left and sin will have prevailed over their souls.

Do you see now how I don’t feel guilty writing about zombies?

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

If you’re a writer, do you allow your belief system to inspire you? If so, how far do you allow it to take you?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies Are Like…

The last time I went to the zoo, I seem to remember the tour guide saying how lions, when they ate and had satiated their hunger, a person could literally pet the beast without worrying it would attack. Now, I wouldn’t be so foolish hanging out in a lion’s den, even if I knew they had just finished a course of three gazelles and an antelope, no matter what anyone would attempt to pay me. But the whole experience got me thinking. What makes a lion so different from a zombie?

A majestic lion
A majestic lion

I save these weird and wonderful questions for my Monday Mayhem series as a way to spur discussion, even when I sometimes feel I could do better by writing about the zombie genre’s cult status in cinema. But I digress.

So I thought today I’d write about the similarities between zombies and the animal kingdom by prefacing my thoughts with the phrase “zombies are like” and taking it from there. Who knows, I might actually surprise myself because I’m not sure where this is going to lead.

Zombies are like lions. A pride of lions can devour their prey whole, tearing at the innards until there’s nothing left of the body. Similarly, a horde of zombies can rip apart their victims without so much as waiting to digest what they have sitting in their decomposing stomachs. Lions also will not quit until they have their jaws firmly clamped on their prey’s throat. Not much different to zombies who always end up going for the jugular.

Zombies are like wolves. Wolves hunt in packs. Wolves will surround their prey until there’s no place to escape. Once they’re ready, they will attack without remorse. Zombies will do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if its a house, a barn or a tent. They will surround their victims, attack and not think anything of it. That is to say, if they could think at all.

Zombies are like sharks. At the slightest hint of blood in the waters, sharks will react. They will hunt their prey, wear it down, taunt it, then move in for the kill. Zombie ears and eyes will pick up the slightest vibration and change in scenery. The undead will hunt their victims, exhausting them run after run. They will not tire, and they will not wait. Eventually, the undead will always win.

Zombies are like ants. Okay, so this one is an insect. Haven’t you ever seen insects in a zoo? They swarm their victims in an attempt to overwhelm them and gain the advantage. One ant is insignificant. Many ants is a problem. One ant can’t do much damage, whether it’s during a foraging expedition or a fight. Many ants will cover their victims and consume them to the bone. I’m thinking of the skeletal remains of a yak in the middle of the Arizona desert. It wasn’t only vultures that had feasted on the body.

There you have a few of the animals I think are similar to zombies. They’re aplenty, and I’m sure you probably could think of many others. One thing though—have you thought about zombie similarities with bats? Okay, maybe I’m stretching it. I think I may have entered the vampire domain with this one.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What animal do you think zombies resemble and why?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies vs. Vampires

It’s been a while since I last wrote about Horror’s two battling genres in one post. If I were to add werewolves, then it would be a regular party. For today’s Monday Mayhem though, I’m going to concentrate on zombies vs. vampires. What makes one dominant during a season while another takes a vacation?

Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)
Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

It wasn’t too long ago that vampires stole the scene. Remember? They were everywhere. They were in movies, books, TV, magazines, songs, etc., and teens romanticized the genre, writers couldn’t meet demand. Twilight became a rage. Thirteen year-old girls wanted Edward to be their husband. Vampires were hot.

Then, as quickly as it’d started, it all changed.

Vampire
Vampire

Nowadays, zombies are the hottest ticket in town. Unlike previous generations of zombie lovers, we’ve become more sophisticated. We love our Zombie Runs where once, twice or as many times as we can handle, we go after competitors in an all-you-can-eat buffet of sprinting through a course for charity. In some respect, we join the troops to simply have fun while playing the part of zombie or victim.

It doesn’t end there. The most popular show on TV is The Walking Dead, about a group of survivors who try to elude walkers (zombies) as a way to find peace in a world consumed by a virus. So far, peace has escaped them. Perhaps one day they will find what they’re looking for. The show has spawned whole websites dedicated to the plot, cast and walkers.

The popularity contest between vampires and zombies is a long one. But, I have a theory. It has to do with the economy and it has to do with people’s perception of the world. This is what I think.

When times are good and folks feel secure with the economy, their neighborhood and their life, vampires rule the airwaves. When things don’t look so good, the economy is in crash and burn mode, and people are generally evil toward one another, zombies rule. Don’t take this as science, although there may have been a scientific study done here and there to prove it. I’m thinking out loud leaning with heavy generalizations.

Good times = vampires.
Bad times = zombies.

This is why I think zombies are currently popular. Vampires are gentlemen. They have a certain sophistication people equate to as being rich. I mean Dracula, the most famous vampire of them all, lives in a castle. How rich is that? While on the opposite end of the spectrum is the lowly zombie, working hard with a horde trying to make a meal out of anyone it comes across.

Silly theory, isn’t it? But it makes sense, right? Twilight and a number of other vampire franchises were at their peak in popularity when the economy was doing well or on a rebound. Now that things aren’t so great, zombies have taken over the top spot.

Maybe I’m too far off base with this one. What do you think?

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What do you think makes a genre popular? Do you think the economy has anything to do with it?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies and the Weather

I’m writing this post a week in advance with the temperature outside having dipped to a balmy -26°C/-14.8°F. Of course, balmy is not the word I would have chosen to describe the frigid arctic air mass that has settled here in Northeastern Canada. But know it’s my attempt at sarcasm. I’m hoping by the time this publishes, this paragraph will remain relevant. Nonetheless, since I’m talking about the weather and our frosty climate across the border, I’m now curious as to whether the undead would be able to survive our environment here in the Great White North.

Winter in Canada
Winter in Canada

So, without much fanfare, and since today is Family Day here in Ontario, I thought it interesting for my Monday Mayhem series of articles if I talk about zombie survivability in extreme weather conditions.

[Note: Please folks, don’t take this post seriously, because I’m going to share some ideas with you that will not have relevance of thought, or applicability to current conditions in the grand scheme of zombiehood. In other words, take it as light reading for a Monday morning.]

All right, with that out of the way, let’s talk about zombies and the arctic weather we’re experiencing here in Canada. Would zombies be able to survive our climate if they walk the streets at night and no one’s around to feed them? Literally. Knowing what I know about the draggers, and how stupid there are, I think they’d freeze solid before they even try to get their grimy little paws on us. First, at least on my street, it gets quiet during winter. If it’s quiet then chewers can’t find us. More than likely, they’d roam or maybe stand in one spot, which, by the time I wake up in the morning, I’ll have a bunch of undead statues standing erect on my driveway ready for the hammer to the head. Second, snowstorms have blessed us up here. I’d love to see those miserable eaters fight through our frozen winter wonderland chasing after their food. They’d have to find us first. The blustery wind alone would shake them off their feet.

Tornado and Lightning
Tornado and Lightning

Since I’m talking about the wind, what about tornadoes? In the summer, just north of where I live, resides twister alley. Do you think the undead would be able to survive a blast from nature soon after one of these cyclones touches down on terra firma? The impact alone would kill them. I’ve seen videos of how one of these funnels cut a path straight across a neighborhood leaving devastation in its wake. No way would a zombie live through that. I mean, after getting slammed a few times upside the head with a pickup truck, I’m sure there wouldn’t be anything left either of the zombie or the pickup.

How about thunderstorms? In minutes, I’ve seen our neighborhood go from birds chirping, sun shining and a gentle wafting of the breeze to utter devastation, thunder clapping, deluge of water coursing through the streets and lightning. I think a storm of such ferocity, though, would do little damage to the chewer population. Oh sure, perhaps a few bolts of lightning frying the unfortunate undead who happens to stroll the sidewalk that day could prove nature still had a way announcing its control. But really? It’ll last a few minutes and the zombie crowd would still be around for the fight.

No, what needs to happen is for the earth to open and swallow anything dragging their feet. Then, and only then, would there be peace on earth.

Unfortunately, our neighborhood hasn’t experienced an earthquake in years. Not that I would want one, mind you.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you think the weather could prevent the undead from attacking? What would be the most devastating thing the weather could do to destroy a zombie horde?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

The Book of Eli and Zombies

The Book of Eli is one of my favorite movies of all time. That’s saying a lot, considering I can name my favorite movies in a quick ten-second round. Given I’ve written about Solara, the female protagonist for one of my Women Who Wow Wednesday articles, I thought it appropriate for Monday Mayhem to write about the dystopian nightmare presented in the film. Even though the world of Eli is far from being the center of a total undead infestation, the scenarios the survivors face are the same.

Denzel Washington as Eli
Denzel Washington as Eli

Just how similar is The Book of Eli’s reality with that of a zombie apocalypse?

Not to give away anything from the plot of the film, the future according to The Book of Eli is that of doom and gloom. Gangs rule the earth searching for wealth—but not the wealth you and I might think as valuable. Huge swaths of land lack the basic ingredient to make it flourish into a viable ecosystem. The ingredient? Water. Whether it’s a small blade of grass or an ox, life needs water to survive. Without water, life ceases to exist. What are the chances water can become the new currency? In a zombie apocalypse, all the employees who worked at the dams and water treatment plants will have disappeared, swallowed by their fall into the vortex of the undead. With no one supervising the flow, malevolent humans could easily capture the resource and use it to control those under their supposed jurisdiction.

The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli

Next is the food chain. Survivors will need to eat things. If the film is any indication to what humanity has to look forward to, then there will be more to deal with than a mere food shortage. Lack of sustenance gives rise to the unthinkable. Cannibalism could become the norm. Not only will the survivors have to pay close attention to attacks from zombies aiming to make a meal of them, but they would also need to be mindful of attacks from within. Hunger will do strange things to a person’s mind. It will lead someone, who otherwise in a civilized society would be a model citizen, to commit the most heinous of crimes—to consume a fellow human for the purpose of self-preservation. How farfetched does that sound in light of the fact that we don’t know what humanity is capable of until that day when placed in those circumstances where everyone’s forced to choose?

Lastly, The Book of Eli suggests the barter system will work when all else fails. A pair of gloves, cat oil and a trinket from the past may buy a charge for an iPod. That is all a survivor may need to get them through another week of wandering through zombie-infested farmland in order to find a hospitable environment where they could call home. It won’t be easy. To deal in the barter system one will need to expropriate goods for the sole purpose of trade. Those goods will need to be high-demand items on everyone’s list. It’s unrealistic to assume those items would also not fall under heavy guard by those who’d want to keep them for themselves. And if zombies have anything to do with it, what’s to say survivors couldn’t use the bodies of the undead as trophies for their morbid trades?

Therefore, again I ask. Just how similar is The Book of Eli’s reality with that of a zombie apocalypse?

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What do you think would make a zombie apocalypse less dangerous than a real end-time scenario?