Posted in Monday Mayhem

A World War Z Sequel

The 2013 zombie film World War Z raked in truckloads of cash at the box office. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready for a sequel. For my Monday Mayhem series, let’s talk about this for a few minutes and see if we can make any sense of wanting to have a sequel hit another blockbuster season.

World War Z Wallpaper
World War Z Wallpaper

Call this a wish list. I suppose this is my wish list of what I would like to see in the next World War Z installment. However, I’ll have to stop short of presenting other wish lists for sequels to the films Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead. I’ll leave these for another time. Right now, I want to jump in to the heart of the zombie saga based on the bestselling novel by Max Brooks.

When I speak with my friends about World War Z, they say the film is a great action movie. I agree. The film certainly knows how to pack a knockout with its vast array of visual and sound effects. I can’t get over how incredible it looks and sounds whenever I sit down to watch the thing. I don’t think this undead flick can ever bore me.

Yet, what can the sequel deliver that the first movie didn’t? The first movie contains the change a human goes through when the virus enters the bloodstream. It also features a number of battles between humans and zombies, not readily seen in other movies. The sheer magnitude of the choreographed sequences leaves me to want more. And the best part about the movie is the little moments when the audience falls for the subtle trap that nothing will happen to our hero if there is dead silence on the screen. That fallacy quickly disappears soon after watching the movie for the first time. The scares come fast, and they come frequently.

So what would the sequel need to do to keep the audience interest from waning? It would need something never tried before.

World War Z
World War Z

I would love to see a subplot where a naval ship by the coast suddenly turns into an undead barge where people would have to defend themselves against a breakout of the virus. Since the boat would be a closed environment, confined to the water or the high seas, the people trapped wouldn’t have much choice other than to fight or run. Given there wouldn’t be that many places to run, the entire subplot would yield a pivotal dramatic beat akin to the plane scene in the first movie.

The other thing I would enjoy watching in a World War Z sequel would be a battle between the zombies and the humans in a wooded area, much like the film Gladiator. With the humans having only a short supply of ammo to contend with, every shot would count. Why not have a scene where humans could defend themselves with farming equipment fashioned as swords. Have you seen a scythe? Imagine the damage a tool like that could do on the undead population. Worrying about ammo would be so outdated. A whole range of weapons exists in a barn. Have you seen the ending to the film Twister?

Lastly, no sequel would be complete without new characters. This is where Brad Pitt himself could fall by a new strain of the zombie virus, but he’d have enough sense to quarantine himself before the full effect of the infection kicked in.

Actually, after thinking about it, maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. The film wouldn’t have anywhere to go after that little debacle, unless it happened in the end and proves to be a cliffhanger for a subsequent film.

Maybe?

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What do you think a World War Z sequel should look like? Should Brad Pitt once again lead the cast?

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.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

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

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Would You?

For this week’s Monday Mayhem, let’s examine a question—would you? As non-standard as the question is, the implications can be enormous. Would I what? Would I eat the icing off the cake before digging into the cake itself? Would I leave a theater halfway through the movie because of my disappointment with its content? Would I not pay a tip if I had lousy service?

Would you? [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]
Would you? [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]
As innocent as those questions are, that’s not what’s on my mind. The “would you?” question has more to do with the breath I take into my lungs every day than anything else does. In other words, would I consider doing something beyond innocent in order to ensure my survival—the survival of my family?

Let me rephrase the question then. Would you do what is necessary to guarantee your survival if the zombie apocalypse really takes place? Of course this is all speculation, so you can go ahead and think about it for a moment.

Everyone’s definition of survival is different. I know when it comes to Boxing Day here in Canada the proverbial claws come out. Think what you may about us Canadians, if there’s a deal at some store after Christmas, you best know we’re not polite. We’re not cordial. And as they say in sportsmanship, may the best man win. Survival is all a matter of who gets what at the better price.

Have you thought about it? Not an easy thing, is it?

Would you?
Would you?

If the zombie apocalypse takes place, what are the odds you will not kill someone to defend your house? I’m not talking about zombies here. Killing zombies can ultimately become a sport. I cite Dawn of the Dead as an example where the survivors are stuck on a mall rooftop taking pot shots at a horde or the undead below, simply for their own amusement. So, yes, killing zombies can be a fun affair.

The more difficult question is more complicated than that.

Would you kill another human to defend your family? Answer this carefully. It would mean breaking the boundary you’ve established within your character as a means to survive the apocalypse further, which, by the way, there’s no guarantee you’d accomplish in doing. After all, your soul is what will eventually vanish with the act.

Now, some folks may find it easy. They’d treat it like another Boxing Day sale—your loss is my gain. But what of the folks who are upright citizens of their neighborhoods? What will become of them? Or will they become those who will be the ones who everyone would have to fight against?

You see then, it’s not an easy question. “Would you?” could mean the end of your civilized life as you know it, all as a matter of defending your family.

But then, really, what would be the difference between us—the defenders of our loved ones—and those who are also trying to survive for their loved ones?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Would you kill for your family? Would you take from another family during an apocalypse to survive?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

A Zombie Party

Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Toronto, my parents provided me a normal childhood by rearing me on a steady diet of cartoons, sitcoms and movies. TV introduced me to a world of characters I would have otherwise not known. Some of those characters possessed the skill to frighten me in ways that would prevent me from having a good night’s sleep. Dracula, Frankenstein, the werewolf, and to some extent, the mummy creeped me out. Zombies never did anything for me.

28 Days Later
28 Days Later

Shocking, isn’t it? It’s Monday Mayhem. Would you expect anything less?

I mentioned this once before in another post that as a kid I considered zombies cartoonish, pasty, disfigured anomalies I didn’t take seriously until I saw the movie 28 Days Later. That’s when I knew my life had changed and couldn’t look at zombies the same way again.

Since then, I have a staple of movies I recommend to everyone interested in understanding zombies better. By no means are these the best zombie films, but they are defining works for the genre.

If you’ve read me long enough, you’ll know how much I enjoy George A. Romero’s undead compendium—The Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Land of the Dead. Produced over the course of thirty years, these films set the rules for subsequent zombie behavior. Although some may consider these B movies, every year these titles have withstood the test of time by attracting new audiences with their original concepts and stories.

I’ve learned from these movies The Three Commandments of the undead:

I—The Dead Have Come Back to Life
II—The Undead Crave Human Flesh
III—The Undead Will Die with a Blow to the Brain

As noted, 28 Days Later is the perfect introduction for new film students feeling the need to want to appreciate the zombie genre. The movie contains ideas some viewers may find interesting. For instance, the work presents a solid case regarding a zombie apocalypse fashioned after a virus running rampant among the population. Also dominant in this film are fast zombies, something explored fully in World War Z.

Zombieland Rule #8
Zombieland Rule #8

These last two movies are my favorites. Without these, folks would take zombies much too seriously. I’m talking about Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. Both films have their quirks. Both films are equally hilarious. The more useful of the two, Zombieland details a set of rules zombie apocalypse survivors can utilize to remain alive. Instructions such as “beware of bathrooms” and “cardio” made it into the Top 10. Shaun of the Dead makes an impression by the amount of gags it pulls. In one scene, the boys throw vinyl records on the oncoming undead all the while arguing as to which records to throw, always having a favorite they’d rather save as a keepsake.

Indeed, I could mention many other movies, but these ones provide a future zombie film enthusiast something to think about when perusing online for a title to watch on a cold Friday night. Who knows, maybe they’ll even find the Resident Evil franchise to whet their appetite (pun fully intended).

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What movies would you recommend your friends to watch that would act as a primer for learning about zombies?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Kids

I don’t see that many zombie children in movies. Most of the zombie movies I’ve seen have one or two token kids, but what about a whole schoolhouse filled with them? Something must have happened to the children. Something must have made them all disappear. Or is it that film producers shy away from such a scene knowing parent groups may rebel against such a movie?

Zombie Kids (Photo credit: Unknown)
Zombie Kids (Photo credit: Unknown)

My Monday Mayhem series wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t talk about such a controversial subject as children in zombie movies. I say controversial because of the ramifications a film may possess if kids became the focus of a zombie apocalypse.

If the opening scene of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead is any indication, I can see why movie studios would repel ideas depicting children as undead corpses craving human flesh. Although the producers presented the notion in a tasteful matter (no pun intended), the fact of the matter lies with the question posed, “What do we do with the kids when they’ve completed their task?” Of course, the answer to that dilemma has more to do with the answer to the same question exchanging the word “kids” with “adults”. And we all know what happens to zombies when their turn is up.

Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead

I’m sure the decision not to include more zombie children in movies has to do more with child labor laws than creative license. For instance, hiring a child in a movie involves having that child work limited hours, whereas adults can work round-the-clock. Also, there’s the moral question that would come into play portraying kids in a bad light. Would it benefit or detract from the production if a child has blood dripping from its mouth?

Again, if the production has one child to work with, the director could utilize some creative means in order to not represent the scene in a most brutal and gruesome way. Dawn of the Dead does a good job at that.

What if, though, it wasn’t one child? What if the script called for a whole schoolhouse filled with them, as I had mentioned? What kind of logistical problems would that pose for the production?

Given each child actor would probably have to sign a contract, the parents or guardians would probably do their best to ensure their child does not commit something that would present them in a unfavorable light. This would otherwise pave the way for a lawsuit, should any of the children do anything beyond their stringent agreement with the studios.

And the schoolhouse filled with children, what happens to them?

It’s an idea that may never come to fruition, given the legal nightmare such a scene would present.

Therefore, we may never see that schoolhouse scene in the theater. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But at least we have zombie movies that can still cause heads to turn (no pun intended).

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think of a group of children attacking an unsuspecting victim on the street? Do you think it’s something you’ll like to see in a movie?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Evolution

George A. Romero, the father of modern zombie flicks, said in a recent interview with Daily Dead that zombies are advancing at a rapid pace—in his words, “advancing even a little further.” As part of my Monday Mayhem series, let’s have a look just how advanced zombies have become from their docile, sloth-like beginnings.

Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead

When Night of the Living Dead made its debut in 1968, the campy feel to the scenes made this film a Horror lover’s delight. What audiences didn’t know was the movie would go on to become an anchor to which other movies in the zombie genre would aspire. For years after its release, zombies had the intellect of vegetables and lurched to wherever they needed to go. They didn’t have reasoning skills. They lacked any sense of intelligence. If they wanted something, they’d hunt for it until they found it. Zombies back then were somewhat silly.

This is where Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead exceeds. All of a sudden, zombies became focused, one-track-minded, machines. They wanted flesh and would do anything to get to it. Their strength to combat those who stood in their way became paramount. Their greatest asset became in attacking in numbers. One zombie will not do it. But maybe many would. And that’s just what happened in this film.

Then in 2005, Romero made a point with Land of the Dead that zombies were here to stay. The undead became intelligent. A character by the name of Big Daddy took over the screen teaching other zombies how to fight the human resistance, taking arms, and pushing forward to destroy those who interfered with the zombie plan to annihilate humans from the face of the earth. (Incidentally, filming took place in a prominent location in Toronto of which I am very well familiar.)

World War Z Horde
World War Z Horde

At the same time, in 2002, director Paul W.S. Anderson presented a version of zombie others couldn’t soon dismiss. In Resident Evil, the idea of a fast zombie took hold, the impact of which wouldn’t be realized for a decade or more. When 28 Days Later appeared later that year, the fast zombie had begun to proliferate modern media, and studios looked to screenwriters for original ideas regarding the concept.

But it wasn’t until 2013 when World War Z’s fast zombies became the norm. The film depicted the undead as stampeding Velociraptors that had the ability to hop from walls without consequence. Gone are the days when zombies lurched from area to area in a slow drag that would aid in the salvation of mankind. Instead, these zombies had the ability to launch from their stationary positions to a determined path simply by allowing a smell or a sound to guide them.

What will 2014 hold for the zombie evolution? Will there be a film so different, so astounding that it will rock the zombie apocalypse foundations from its axis?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think will come next for the zombie genre?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

I Hated Zombies

There once was a boy name Jack, and he hated zombies without lack. Crazy, isn’t it? That boy was me. I disliked zombies because I thought they were the stupid, malignant, dregs of Horror that amounted to nothing better than cheap laughs and gruesome kills.

Dead Rising 3
Dead Rising 3

Now that I have your attention, I’m dedicating this Monday Mayhem post to the skeptics. To all those folks who hate zombies and don’t know why. Ahem, because they think zombies are of the devil—or something so insanely ridiculous as such. This post goes out to you dislikers of the undead. Prove your hatred.

It wasn’t long ago when I, too, freely admit to have been one of the zombie naysayers. I’d thought vampires were cool and werewolves were powerful. But zombies? What did they have? I couldn’t get past their weak countenance. They wore torn clothes, for crying out loud. Even I could have punched one of them in the face to have it topple over like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Ah, but you see, that’s where I went wrong. I thought of a zombie as a single unit. That’s not where a zombie’s strength lies. Zombies don’t work that way. Separate a zombie from the crowd and yes, it’s time to say good-bye to another of the undead. However, as part of the horde, it’s as good as dug itself in like an Alabama tick. As a whole, they’re impenetrable; functioning as a single-minded mass with only one thing on their mind—eat.

Someone's in Trouble
Someone’s in Trouble

When did I change my view on zombies? I saw 28 Days Later late one night while my family slept, and I needed some solid entertainment. I didn’t know what the movie was at the time, having caught it a few minutes after the credits, but I watched it anyway. Hard not to watch someone waking up in hospital garb to what looks like a world gone crazy. Then have the movie tease me to a slow reveal. That’s what started it all for me. I saw the zombies. They weren’t weak but strong brutes able to turn other humans into zombies. And the humans were afraid of them. I thought, what is this? Shivers trailed my arms to my spine leading up my neck. The movie captivated me. I wanted more.

From there I went on a zombie binge. Within a week, I had seen 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland.

The old Scooby-Doo paradigm I had carried for so long had all but disappeared, replaced by today’s zombie—a predator of vast proportions, able to seek and destroy those who’d dare get in the way. Their single-minded focus to rid the world of humans fascinates me. They act as Star Trek’s Borg, a collective bent on satiating eternal hunger pangs. How can I argue these zombies are weaklings?

To exacerbate the issue, I’d fallen in love with the notion zombies can reproduce. One bite is all it takes and a human is no longer with the living. In some respect, it might actually be an improvement since some folk are dead already.

Yae, naysayers, come and give pittance to your trite cause for slamming zombies wherefore you know nothing of. You hate the undead in ignorance. Let the beasts of the field show you the empty graves to those who will dismember the world.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

What do you like about zombies the most? Did you have an epic flip from hater to lover of the genre?