Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Ray Ferrier

One of the most unforgettable movie-going events my wife and I experienced happened ten years ago when we went to watch Steven Spielberg‘s War of the Worlds. We were in Nova Scotia at the time, and it was two years after Hurricane Juan had hit the Dartmouth/Halifax area. Naturally, we were all apprehensive when storms were brewing off the coast that summer, and that night was no exception. To add to the creepiness, it was ice-cold inside the theater. I was sure it would take me a week to thaw from the air conditioning.

Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier
Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier

If you’ve been following this site long, you’ll know I write my feature Wednesday Warriors for those characters I feel are larger than life or strong in overcoming tribulation. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is one of those characters.

I have to say one thing about Tom Cruise. A lot of folks are not into Tom Cruise the man, mainly for his views on psychology or his ties with Scientology or the highly publicized couch-jumping incident on Oprah. War of the Worlds came out while he was courting Katie Holmes. However, regarding Tom Cruise the actor, it is my opinion he is one of the most overlooked actors in the film industry. He should have won an Oscar for his work in Magnolia. The characters he portrays have a quiet vulnerability that shows well on the big screen.

Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier
Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier

The film War of the Worlds revolves around a father’s quest to protect his children at all costs. Not alien, human or anything else can get in his way to earning the title “Dad”. In a story where one thing goes wrong after another, and the state of the main characters spirals into a dark pit of depression, Ray takes it upon himself to keep everyone sane and safe.

Dealing with an alien invasion is one thing, but in this movie, the audience can feel the frost as Ray’s breath turns to vapor while dashing between buildings with the hope of seeing the storm that is brewing overhead. Unknown to him, the storm is more than a natural occurrence. The churning in the sky signals an ominous force ready to change his life and the lives of those he loves.

Unlike the regular Hollywood heroes who can fight through anything and come out of a battle unscathed, Ray has a complex personality. He’s not likable. He’s not the best father in the world. And, if anything, he is one of the most selfish characters a moviegoer will ever encounter. But when the invasion finally hits, Ray’s instincts kick in and he becomes the one who leads those who depend on him for freedom.

Ray’s fears take a major role in the plot, making him as ordinary as the audience viewing his growth throughout the film. What was once a man filled with assertion of his abilities, transforms into an unlikely hero with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The key to Ray is his kids. Without his kids, he might as well not live, as denoted in one scene where he had to let one of them go.

Soon after having watched the film and exiting the theater, it had begun to rain. My wife and I dashed to our car and wondered if an alien invasion was in the midst of those clouds.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you seen War of the Worlds? What are your thoughts about Ray Ferrier in the film?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Fast Zombies

Now that World War Z is part of movie history, perhaps this is a good time to have a heart to heart talk. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything if I were to ask a simple question. Some folks might have their opinions, and quite frankly, I’m interested in hearing what those opinions are. After all, I write my Monday Mayhem series hoping to understand what you, the audience, finds exciting about zombies.

Fast Zombie (photo credit: Plan B)
Fast Zombie (photo credit: Plan B)

Therefore, without further delay, here’s my question: What do you think of fast zombies?

You didn’t really think I’d pass up the opportunity to discuss these speed demons, did you? They’re a terror to the masses. They flock like birds evading a predator. Only, they are the predators. I would find it horrifying if one would come after me. But fifty? A hundred? A thousand? Time to bring out the big guns.

As many of you probably know, and if you’ve read me long enough, I’m a lover of old school zombies. I enjoy seeing them lurch, drag, lumber their way from one corridor to the next in close proximity to where humans become their main dish. Not much goes on in their deteriorating puss sacks except for a few thoughts, which is possibly instinct anyway. Where’s the food? Need the food. Eat food. It would be quite a challenge when two of these belly suckers have their victim trapped, one at the foot of the stairs as another makes its way down, all the while the victim says their prayers, smack dab in the middle, of course.

I suppose the reason for these slow encounters in the past had to do with how Hollywood shot zombies back then. Unless A-list stars took top billing in projects, budgets for these films remained as close to a shoestring as possible. Even more so, if a movie did have an A-list star attached to the project, the film wouldn’t guarantee a heavy reliance on special effects to get their point across. The audience was different back in the Sixties and Seventies, folks could sit through a two and a half hour movie where the characters do nothing but talk.

To pile more stuff on the DNR table, technology back then did not permit super-fast zombies to exist either. So even if a smart producer were to have said they could see zombies that could sprint the streets and crash into trucks like stampeding elephants, studios wouldn’t know how to present such a scenario. They would have needed the imagination of Steven Spielberg to aid in the quest to bring these creatures to life. But Spielberg was too busy making sharks look larger than life than to worry about making zombies fast.

Brad vs. The Zombie (photo credit: Plan B)
Brad vs. The Zombie (photo credit: Plan B)

Anyway, that’s my two-paragraph Hollywood history lesson I didn’t mean to write yet appeared in an edited stream of consciousness writing session. What was my point again? Oh, yes. I like slow zombies.

Then I Am Legend made its debut. Already I hear the sharpening of the knives. Yes, I know these creatures are vampires—in. the. book. The movie however, makes no distinction. The audience can look at these creatures as vampires. Alternatively, they can look at them as zombies. It’s entirely open for interpretation. Nevertheless, the point being, these creatures are super-fast, able to crash into cars with very little damage to themselves, and leap, dash, plummet in bounds. Not much different from the zombies in World War Z, right?

Now, I have to admit something. I like fast zombies too. I think, hadn’t it been for today’s special effects, fast zombies wouldn’t have been possible. Stories with these undead involve being out in the open with them chasing after you. Hollywood has the technology to do it now. And, well, I’m kind of embracing it knowing there’s an infinitely vast potential of story left to watch from the movie studios featuring these rambunctious creatures.

Those are my thoughts on the subject.

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

What do you think of fast zombies?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

The Walking Dead

My Monday Mayhem series provides me with the opportunity to ramble on about zombies, the zombie apocalypse and the undead. Today’s no different. Because today, I want to ramble on about The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

I’ve wanted to write about The Walking Dead for a while now, but never really had any idea of how to approach it. I could talk about all the gnarly special effects with the guns blowing away the zombies or I can go into the incredible makeup each zombie actor in the show wears. However, I didn’t feel I’d provide anything new a reader couldn’t get anywhere else. And that’s what made me start this post, put it away and start it again. A few times in fact.

I decided to try something different instead.

For those who haven’t watched the show, AMC’s The Walking Dead is about a group of apocalypse survivors who search for a safe haven from evil. The evil being zombies. Although no one ever utters the word zombie in first season, labels such as Roamers, Walkers, Lamebrains, and Geeks make for good replacements.

Characters
Characters

Also to the credit of the show, the cast varies. Sheriff Rick Grimes, who’s smart, has moral integrity, a father, husband and a good friend, leads the group. He walks around flawed though, seeing things black and white causing him to make decisions that although ethically correct, causes more problems in the end. He is a protector and will do anything to keep the others safe.

Close to him is Deputy Shane Walsh, Rick’s best friend since high school. Living under Rick’s shadow, bitter resentment causes hatred, which ultimately results in Shane’s breakdown of conscience. This leads Shane to becoming a threat to the other survivors, including Rick’s son, Carl.

Lori Grimes is Rick’s wife and the center of the survivors’ emotional stability. She is loyal to Rick. This leads Shane to covet that which is Rick’s.

The Walking Dead is more than a typical zombie show. I wouldn’t consider it a zombie show at all if it weren’t for all the zombies popping up occasionally.

No, the show is about friendship. Every episode tries each friendship further and further in a refining fire. The audience watches this in awe, wondering how much can the characters take. No way can they survive this. Impossible! Yet, the friendships do survive. Through the yelling, screaming, betrayals and hatred, the survivors carry on, stronger, more determined to accomplish their goal of finding safety away from the Walkers.

The Walking Dead is a testament to what Hollywood can accomplish when the right people come together in an effort to create something exceptional. The show’s grounding comes from producers who know how the human condition works.

Have you seen The Walking Dead? What do you like about the show? Is there something in the show you’d like to see?