Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Theories

Sometimes I wonder where these zombie theories come from in this age of scientific advancement. Humanity is not an idiot, but some of the lesser-known theories deserve to die a quiet death with little to no fanfare whatsoever. These Monday Mayhem posts have been a staple around here at JackFlacco.com, so why not talk about them, giving them the proper respect they ought to have? Perhaps there is something to learn for everyone involved.

Witch Doctor [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]
Witch Doctor [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]
The very first theory is that voodoo will bring back the dead. For that to happen, there would have to be a witch doctor willing to bring back the dead. Unbelievably, such a case in Haiti existed where a man had died and a voodoo doctor had brought the corpse back to life. What is now known is the good doctor had poisoned the victim to deceive the family into believing the man had perished of an aliment of some sort. When the family had buried the victim, the voodoo doctor had exhumed the body, fed it another cocktail of hallucinogens and made the man a servant keeping him drugged for decades until the doctor’s death. The case was nothing more than a charlatan taking advantage of the poor in order to gain free labor from its intended victim.

Going further with the case, should zombies truly rise from voodoo, civilization would be in a quandary. Who would administer the drugs? What will be the effect of these victims on the economy? Should it really happen, where would it take place? Certainly, it couldn’t happen in the developed countries of North America.

George A. Romero
George A. Romero

The other theory, which far surpasses reality, has to do with aliens. This theory is so farfetched that it isn’t even worth documenting. However, an element of fun exists in this theory that no one can really resist not documenting it.

Consider an alien race that has come to Earth as a means of populating it with its kind. The aliens utilize ray beams to change the masses into obedient servants, thereby rendering the population vulnerable to conquest. Sounds ridiculous, yet George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead has a variation of the theme where an accident from space changes a quiet town into a zombie feeding ground. Gone is the audience’s sense of intellect, replaced only by the acceptance of sheer fiction in a situation that is as likely to happen as the earth standing still for forty-eight hours.

Lastly, no zombie apocalypse would be complete without the dreaded virus that turns humanity into bags of roaming nut jobs. Who can dispute that above all the outlandish theories, this is the one that has remained in the forefront as the one-and-only that makes the most sense. However, the reality is far from perfect. For this theory to work, the virus’ victims would have to succumb to yielding their inhibitions to consuming human meat, not only from an individual standpoint but also from a community perspective. Unless plied with a crate of dopamine, it would appear that such an event would fall in the realm of “hardly unlikely”.

With that, the forum is open for discussion. What do you think of zombie apocalypse theories?

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What other theories are so outrageous that they aren’t worth the time reading?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Are Zombies Popular?

One of the most interesting parts of a zombie apocalypse is the beginning. How does it start? Can anyone prevent it? Is the zombie apocalypse really that scary to want to run away from it? With yesterday’s premier of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, today’s Monday Mayhem post would be a good place to have a look at the draw people have toward zombies and why these wretched disasters just won’t go away.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

On October 31, 2010, Halloween no less, The Walking Dead premiered. From there a series began that would eclipse all other television series. Its premise is simple: a zombie apocalypse has taken over the planet and no one knows how to defeat it. As the series progresses, the audience discovers human nature, with all its entrapments, becomes a central theme in the show. Sometimes, what people do to each other is more stomach-churning than the deeds of the walkers. Should Fear the Walking Dead follow in the footsteps of its parent The Walking Dead, then one would assume the show will depict the darkest aspects of human nature.

Although zombies have always had a sordid history in low-budget spectacles, even having transformed into cartoons (eg. Scooby-Doo), recent activities in the genre have placed the undead in the forefront of creative bedlam. One thing is certain, the media does not like a vacuum. With the departure of Twilight from the Horror scene a number of years ago, vampires took a backseat to walkers. To that end, the popularity of zombies has never been better.

Fear the Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead

Just like their genetic makeup, zombies have crept into mainstream popularity and are now eating away at every form of media. The movie Warm Bodies is the latest entry to the genre, which film critics loved as the zombie equivalent to Twilight. The steady growth of zombie fandom hasn’t relented one bit either. Shows like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh have captured the imagination of viewers everywhere. Sites devoted to the undead have sprung up throughout the world. Commercials have even gotten in on the act. Zombies apparently love BMW, Ford and Doritos.

In the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called Herbert West—Reanimator. Inspired by Frankenstein, Lovecraft’s mad doctor believed he could bring life back from the dead, which he did. The caveat being the creatures reanimated came back as starved cannibals, killing and eating everyone in sight. Sounds familiar, huh?

In 1954, Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend. Although devoted to vampirism, the common story elements with modern day zombies are evident. A virus infects humans who then infect other humans with their bites. In the 2007 movie by the same name, Will Smith fights dark seekers, which blurs the lines between vampires and zombies even further. Although never spoken of as vampires, if one were to view dark seekers simply by their behavior, one would think they are zombies (feed off humans, affected by a virus, etc.).

However, it wasn’t until 1968 when director George A. Romero released The Night of the Living Dead that zombies became what they are today—single-minded eating machines. These are the same zombies featured in the show The Walking Dead (born from the dead, crave human flesh and will die with a blow to the head—as I’d written in my post The Three Commandments).

This gradual escalation of zombie popularity has yet to abate. Once we see a full-scale acceptance of the zombie genre, that’s when a true zombie apocalypse will have taken place and everyone will fear the walking dead.

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Do you like zombies? Why? What draws you to the zombie genre?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Crossing a Zombie with a Vampire

I’ve always wondered if a zombie were to ever crossbreed with a vampire, what exactly would you have? It wouldn’t be a zombie, that I know. That would mean the resulting monster, for lack of a better term, would have not only an appetite for human, but also the appetite to drain it of its blood. By the same argument, it wouldn’t be a vampire as that would mean it wouldn’t hunt in packs, much like zombies do in popular movies today.

Zombie Rising
Zombie Rising

I thought for my Monday Mayhem series of articles dedicated to zombies, today I would explore this awful but lethal combination of crossing a zombie with a vampire. If birds can do it, why not the undead?

Looking at it logically, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that such a breed could exist. After all, zombies and vampires have a lot in common. They both are undead. They enjoy human as their choice of nourishment. And if they had their way, they’d have a run at taking over the whole world with their species. What’s to say they wouldn’t succeed?

How about the differences? These are easy. Although they don’t plan coordinated attacks, zombies hunt in groups. Even more so, when a zombie attacks, it lets loose grunts, shrieks or shrills that alert other zombies of a potential feeding frenzy. This is not on purpose, yet they have that capability to unleash devastating damage to an unsuspecting populace simply by their overt cries of hunger. Additionally, zombies do not give up easily. That’s not to say vampires do, but it is to say zombies will keep coming after a victim until its dead. Vampires can’t do that since as soon as the sun makes an appearance vampires have to flee. I’m not talking about the sparkling ones either.

Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead

What about vampires? Vampires have an innate sense of communication zombies lack. In fact, vampires talk. Zombies do not. Other than R in the movie Warm Bodies, who I would classify as an exception to the rule, zombies typically have a one-syllable vocabulary bordering on animal. A series of groans could mean they’re hungry. In a vampire’s case, however, there’s no denying they possess articulate speech, enunciated words and eloquent vocal patterns. Vampires can talk their way out of anything.

Which brings me to the what if scenario. What if zombies were to crossbreed with vampires? Would Horror fans call them vampbies or zombires? Would they melt in the sun or would they survive in any lighting condition? What about their hunger? Would they crave human meat or human blood?

The list goes on. How about their hunting patterns? Would they form packs and hunt in coordinated attack patterns or go off alone hoping what they come across would keep them alive for another day?

My opinion? I would like to see a crossbreed of pack-hunter able to change forms and go after humans not just for their blood. I would like to see a creature eloquent in speech but deadly in battle that neither a wooden stake or a bullet to the head could stop. I would like to see the ultimate Horror creature give humans a run for their lives in a city setting where strength and cunning would rule the genre.

But then I would have a problem. What would I call such a creature?

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think about crossing a zombie and a vampire?

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.

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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

Zombie Apocalypse: Aliens?

Today, I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while. I’m not sure if anyone will understand, but I’m going to try to explain it as clearly as I can. After all, Monday Mayhem wouldn’t be interesting if occasionally I didn’t include mayhem. Don’t you think?

Zombie Apocalypse
Zombie Apocalypse

In past posts, I’ve talked about zombie apocalypse causes. I’ve written about how neurotoxins can inhibit the brain’s ability to utilize cognitive reasoning in order to perform simple tasks. Alkaloids render victims helpless by producing a trancelike state all the while motor skills remain intact.

I’ve also documented how brain parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii could create a zombie crisis by attacking a victim’s brain and converting it into a bowl of mush. The parasite, which originates from ingesting undercooked meat, currently lives in one-third of the world’s population.

Then there’s Cysticercosis a parasite born from consuming undercooked pork infested with Taenia solium eggs. In some cases, the incubation period lasts ten years before symptoms begin to display themselves in the form of muscle swelling, atrophy, and fibrosis, which, in turn, would cause headaches, brain lesions and seizures. Imagine a society succumbing to a worldwide plague of this sort.

Zombies vs. Aliens
Zombies vs. Aliens

Although these zombie apocalypse causes stir the imagination of any undead fan, the one thing I’ve heard with resounding agreement is that we shouldn’t even consider merging the world of zombies with the world of aliens. But you know what I say? I say change is good. Have we forgotten that zombies from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead originated from exposure to satellite radiation?

One cannot deny the similarities between zombies and aliens. For instance, inasmuch as zombies avoid having empty stomachs, likewise, aliens avoid having empty heads. In some form or fashion, every alien movie features extraterrestrials conducting experiments with the human anatomy. Like zombies, malevolent aliens want a piece of us.

If we take it one step further, why, in the first place, do zombies have to spawn from a disease here on earth? Why not have zombies emerge soon after aliens initiate a plan to take over the world? Aliens, deep in the heart of Texas, defeat American armies, transforming them into zombies bent on destroying humanity. Seems plausible, right?

Not everyone would agree, however. Ardent zombie fans would rather not marry genres and keep the status quo.

So, I’ll put the questions to you. Do you think adding aliens to the zombie genre would add a new level of excitement? Would it breathe life in a mature genre? And would the stories encourage other fans to follow the trend?

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What do you think of genre hopping between zombies and aliens?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies & Aliens Too?

The movie Alien presented an interesting concept to the viewing audience when it first came out in theaters in 1979. The premise goes something like this—humans act as hosts to alien birthing eggs until such time they’re no longer needed and die a miserable death by chest explosion. Interesting, right? Since I’ve been on a zombie/alien kick lately, I thought I’d explore this idea further for Monday Mayhem.

Alien/Zombie host relationship?
Alien/Zombie host relationship?

If you’ve read my post Zombies & Aliens? last week, you would know I delved into the unsettling topic regarding a zombie apocalypse brought on by aliens as opposed to a virus. Seeing how many commenters liked the connection, let’s continue on that train of thought to see where it goes. M-kay?

In the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens embark on an invasion of earth by replacing humans with exact duplicates, except the copies express zero emotion and individuality. Even though the film reflects a perfect commentary of communism in the 1950’s, it also goes on to explain what people would be like should they decide not to express their free will—in essence, the first inkling of a zombie apocalypse even before George A. Romero hit the scene. The only thing missing is the duplicates don’t eat people.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

I know I’ve touched on this idea before by mentioning how zombie propagation changes with the times. For instance in the early 1900’s, zombies originated from supernatural practices in Haiti where voodoo doctors resurrected the dead to have them work on sugar plantations. In the late 1960’s the movie The Night of the Living Dead had fun with the notion zombies could originate from a radioactive satellite bursting in earth’s atmosphere rendering those caught in the debris undead. And just recently, The Walking Dead, although not based on an original concept, is burning the ratings by depicting a world gone crazy due to a virus turning people into walkers (a.k.a. eaters of the fleshly kind).

Having all these other interesting causes to choose from, why not entertain the thought that aliens could cause a zombie apocalypse?

For instance, a meteorite could scream to earth and crash in the middle of the woods somewhere in the United States. The Department of Defense sends in a team of scientists to survey the area to investigate if the meteor would present potential harm toward anyone approaching it. One by one, the scientists die by radiation exposure. From the belly of the meteor, an organism crawls its way to the bodies of the scientists, penetrating their mouths, making them their hosts. The bodies soon rise from the dead and moan their way to civilization, but not before attacking a multitude of campers in the area, spreading the organism from one host to the other with a simple bite.

It isn’t until half the country becomes hosts to the dreaded aliens that a nuclear solution gets a green light from the presidential office.

Wouldn’t that make for an awesome story?

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What do you believe will cause the zombie apocalypse? Alien, virus or voodoo?