Posted in Monday Mayhem

Rigor

One of the perks when writing books about zombies is the fact that I can research various subjects such as physics, epidemics and psychology. With each subject comes a set of fascinating facts I never knew, had I not looked into it on my own. The most interesting and morbid of all subjects I’ve had to study is the rate of decomposition of the dead, the various phases, and the ultimate appearance of the body weeks after the process had begun. It is not a subject for the faint of heart or for regular readers of my Monday Mayhem series to indulge in while having breakfast.

The Walking Dead cast
The Walking Dead cast

Having watched every episode of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, my perspective has changed from when I first became interested in the genre.

For instance, in the early years of my fixation with the undead, my focus fell on what the survivors had to do in order for them to stay alive. Coincidentally, the underlying theme in the early seasons of The Walking Dead is that of survival in the thick of a zombie apocalypse—even if no one really calls them zombies in the show. Survival means different things to different people. In the broad context of the show’s premise, survival means living another day without having had worried about a walker getting in the way. To this end, the survivors play a game of human vs. beast throughout the early part of the series.

As the years went on, however, and by no means would I compare my experience with others who follow the genre, I’ve noticed the plight of the survivors has not been against the walkers but against themselves. Nothing could be more evident of this fact than with last season’s premier when the survivors’ main enemy was a band of cannibals determined to make Rick and his crew their evening meal. For some, cannibalism may have crossed the line, but the ratings sure haven’t reflected that matter. If anything, the audience, including myself, keeps coming back for more.

When it comes to story, The Walking Dead, and now Fear the Walking Dead, has and is leading viewers through a range of emotions that only a good drama can deliver.

Getting back to my original thought about my education within the genre in relation to the shows—has anyone else noticed the walkers in The Walking Dead are different from when they hit the scene in the first episode? Recently, they’ve decomposed rapidly leaving no doubt they’re slowly dying but at a slower pace than otherwise any medical student would suggest. Their skin has lost much of its elasticity. Their color has turned darker. And they have become sluggish as opposed to their former selves, living or otherwise.

Yet, it leaves me wondering what the walkers will look like once the series is over. Will they explode like a bag a goo, as depicted in one episode of a walker trapped in a well? Or will they simply shrivel into a nub and crunch to their ultimate death?

I know that it’s a silly observation, but how can anyone ignore the basic levels of rigor? I can’t imagine what science will do to the walkers once it gets through with them.

Just a thought.

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.

What do you think will happen with the walkers when the series completes? Will the science of rigor finally take revenge on the undead?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why do Zombies Eat Brains?

The film The Return of the Living Dead pioneered the popular idea of zombies eating brains. Prior to this concept, zombies had an appetite for anything human, not just brains. For my new readers, this is Monday Mayhem where I talk about zombies. And other stuff. But mostly zombies.

The Human Brain
The Human Brain

In the movie Warm Bodies, the main character, a zombie named R, kills a man, cracks open his head and scoops out a vast portion of his brain to consume on the spot. R saves some for later. The film does a good job presenting a seamless string of memories from the victim’s brain as if it were streaming through R’s rot-laden head. R feels that much more human when taking in the victim’s memories. Here’s what R thinks:

“There’s a lot of ways to get to know a person. Eating her dead boyfriend’s brains is one of the more unorthodox methods.”

But is that the real reason why zombies eat brains?

Modern day zombies breed from a virus. The typical contagion seeps through the blood of the victim, changing their composition thereby rendering them undead. The term undead means the victim died and rose from the dead. Classic zombies sport a morbid, pasty look, their eyes dull and their clothes shredded. They are shells of their former selves with nothing in their hearts and minds other than the craving for human flesh. Not much different from the folks you meet on Twitter’s Direct Messaging.

The Brain
The Brain

This craving is the key to zombiehood. For those unsure, zombies eat the flesh not to survive, but to satisfy an inner hunger born from becoming undead. Even if the zombie has its stomach removed, the craving exists, which makes it all the more vicious since its hunger originates not from self-preservation but from malicious intent bent on destroying humans or propagating the zombie virus.

Regardless of knowing this, we still need an explanation as to why zombies eat brains.

Before The Return of the Living Dead made its debut, zombies only consumed human flesh. But once the movie came out, the modern version of a legend rose from its frames. All of a sudden, zombies ate brains.

Why?

Nothing could be simpler: Brains provide zombies with the necessary endorphins to dull the pain of Rigor Mortis brought about by decomposition. The more brains, the less pain. In some ways, zombies get a high consuming the delicacy. And with that idea in mind, is it a wonder no one thought of it sooner?

A Note of Thanks

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE shot to #5 last night on Amazon’s Horror Best Sellers list here in Canada. Check out who the top 5 horror authors are in Canada:

#1 Stephen King
#2 Dean Koontz
#3 Stephen King
#4 Eric Tozzi
#5 Jack Flacco

The book’s also hit #420 on the Amazon Best Sellers Rank on Amazon.ca.

It’s also tracking as #6 for both Best Sellers in Children’s Horror books and ebooks.

And #3 on the Hot New Releases in Horror Fiction.

Finally, #1 on the Hot New Releases list in Children’s Horror.

I’m in shock. I wouldn’t have imagined it possible that something like this would have happened. I’m sincerely grateful for all those who have reviewed my book prior to release. I thank all those who have thrown me kind words my way these past few weeks. And I can only say that you—the audience—have made this book a success. I’m now without words.

Thank you again, everybody.

Did you know that zombies eating brains is a recent concept originating from The Return of the Living Dead?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Sounds

Whenever I watch a zombie movie, the very first thing I notice is the sounds emanating from those vile beasts. If I hear cricking and cracking, then I know I have a winner on my hands. It’s those movies where the undead lurch but remain silent that I think why hadn’t the director thought of what real corpses sound like and insert those effects into the picture. Monday Mayhem is all about zombies, and today I want to spend some time on zombie sounds. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

My town's cemetery
My town’s cemetery

In my previous posts Rising from the Dead and Indestructible Zombies I detail the various states of human decomposition. One of the phases that a body goes through once it dies is Rigor Mortis. In this state, the body stiffens to the point of rigidity whereby muscles harden and become difficult to move by an external force. Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy depicts a perfect example where someone attempts to compel a body to do what it can no longer do due to stiffening. In Frenzy’s case, the murderer attempts to retrieve a lost object but then has difficulty doing so because of the body’s inability to bend like it did when alive.

That’s why the movie The Mummy has a certain appeal. Throughout the entire film, the mummy, which is nothing more than a glorified zombie, cricks, cracks, spurts, and oozes all sorts of noises toward its transformation to becoming human again. Why don’t all zombie movies sound like that?

My town's cemetery at twilight
My town’s cemetery at twilight

Imagine if you will a horde of the undead giving chase. You hear the dragging. You hear the hauling. You hear the moaning. Wouldn’t it be all the more terrifying to hear their bones snapping back and forth on their way to making their victim their supper?

There’s a saying: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. What if the saying went: Where there’s cricking and cracking, they’re zombies. Wouldn’t that be something?

I suppose the sound of zombie cartilage readjusting is impossible in a movie where a virus takes over the victim. After all, depending on the virus, the victim hasn’t really died—at least not in the traditional sense of the word. They’ve only changed to become movable corpses. And if an antidote exists for zombies in the form of changing them back to their former selves, then by all accounts, they never really died in the first place.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

If they never died, there’s no opportunity to make the sounds I wish they could make. The only way that could happen is if zombies rise three hours after death just when Rigor Mortis had set.

Then again, zombies could rise during that sweet moment after death with bodies unaffected by the decomposition phase. In that instance, you will not hear them coming. In a sense, they could appear and eat you while you’re still alive.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hear them coming.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think? Should future zombie movies have the undead sounding like an army of breaking bones as they march for the attack? Or would you fear them more silent?