Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Movies I’d Like to See

I’ve been a fan of genre crossing for a long time. I love it when movies bend the rules in order to tell a different type of story. I enjoy the challenges a hero faces when all of a sudden the plot flips from ordinary Horror to something altogether unpredictable. For today’s edition of Monday Mayhem, I’d like to have a look at zombie movies I’d love to see at the theater. If someone already came up with these ideas, let me know. I’m always in the mood for another zombie movie.

Aliens Attack!
Aliens Attack!

Zombies in Space—How about a zombie outbreak that takes place on a space station? Even more so, how about a zombie apocalypse taking over a human colony on another planet? We’re always wondering about what would happen if a zombie virus hits earth. What about astronauts on the space shuttle? No one can deny the close proximity of everyone involved would prove to be the worst aspect of the scenario. How would zombies react in zero gravity? I can see it now, the undead attempting to bite a floating human and it can’t quite grasp the concept of catching its food while hovering over it. I’d find it comical as well as challenging for the zombies. I’m sure humans would win.

Zombies of the Round Table—You know this was coming. The Knights of the Round Table going up against the zombies that have taken over the land. This movie would come complete with fire breathing dragons and the princess in the tower the knights had to save from the horde of undead trying to make a meal out of her. I can picture it now, sword battles and an archer’s dream. The logistics behind a movie like this would make any accountant’s head spin. Weapons, setting, zombie costumes, battle scenes, castle configuration, CGI, the list would go on and on. I’d go see it, for sure.

The Spaghetti Western
The Spaghetti Western

Zombies of the Wild, Wild West—I can hear you guys now, “Really, Jack? Really? Haven’t we learned anything from Cowboys & Aliens?” Okay, this may be a stretch. I would still enjoy a story like this. I would. Imagine a spaghetti western crossing with a zombie apocalypse. The Good, the Bad and the Zombie. Who doesn’t want to watch something like this? Show of hands? Believe me, a gunslinger sitting at a poker table in a saloon will beat six zombies bursting through the doors without breaking a sweat. This movie would raise the bar for zombie kills done in a one-hundred minute film.

Zombies vs. Vampires—I saved the best for last. Who wouldn’t want to see a movie where zombies and vampires tear each other apart? I know I would. When Underworld released, I was one of the first fans to hit the theater. In this case, vampires battled Lycans (werewolves). Not as genre crossing as the rest of the lot, zombies vs. vampires would prove a challenge even to seasoned producers. For instance, an astute writer will ask the question, “Who would be strong enough to win?” As an aside—zombies would win out of pure numbers. Vampires would win out of pure cunning. It would be an amazing movie, nonetheless.

I’m hoping one day that some of these ideas will become movies. I would totally spend money to see them. I must say though, if a bright young producer decided to create a zombie musical to satisfy the craving of all the middle aged folks old enough to remember Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, I’d probably skip it. One video with dancing zombies is enough in my book. Besides, no one could do the zombie walk quite like Jackson could—not including Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What kind of movie would you like to see incorporating zombies?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

World War Z

Friday is the day. Friday, World War Z hits theaters. Friday is the reckoning. If the film does well, we will see such a deluge of zombie stories flood the market, the likes of which we’ve never seen. If it crashes and burns, which I hope it doesn’t, zombie storytellers should run for cover, for the end is nigh. Monday Mayhem—World War Z—the music.

Zombie Stampede
Zombie Stampede

Anyone familiar with score music will know Marco Beltrami rocks the scene with incredibly powerful renditions of tension inducing bravado. All that means is he’s the go-to guy for heavy, heart-thumping themes. The other side of the composer, he produces some of the most poignant, emotion-filled melodies for the big screen. His quiet, eerie sounds he chooses to incorporate in the compositions drives his films to new levels of suspense and terror.

Tomorrow, the score releases in stores and retail outlets everywhere. What do I expect? I’m hoping a Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines whoopin’. I’m hoping when I put on my Sennheiser headphones, the walls outside will shake. Imagine a constant pounding with ear-splitting crescendos and breathtaking silences. We’re talking about Second Coming music without relent. Yet, I’m also hoping, in Beltrami’s inimitable style, beautiful, sweeping phrases, majestic and victorious in breath, to herald the dawn of the zombie apocalypse.

I’m getting shivers run up my spine thinking about it.

Zombie Climb
Zombie Climb

Beltrami’s also responsible for the rhythmic I, Robot score. The constant tapping heard is a trademark Beltrami sound sucking the listener into the vortex of his design. Shrilling flutes and reverberating brass counterpoints, clanging anvils, he has it all.

But the score I believe most likely will have the greatest influence on World War Z is Underworld: Evolution. Imagine armies of zombies marching on a city while heavy timpani pummels in the background, a grand piano repeats the same phrase in its lower register, and syncopated strings push against the blaring of a lone trumpet. More? Add emergency sirens and real skulls he brought into the recording studio. That’s cool. That’s Beltrami. That’s probably why he’s the composer commissioned for the film.

Zombie Panorama
Zombie Panorama

World War Z is a landmark event. No other time in film history will a blockbuster of such sheer scope and magnitude affect an entire genre upon release. This is Hollywood’s attempt at making zombies in vogue, injecting them into the mainstream for all to see.

Let’s hope the public’s ready. The Walking Dead ushered in a new generation of zombie fan, where it was cool again to like dead things crawling in the night. The media’s also having its heyday with TV series and movies parading zombies in the open. Entertainment such as In the Flesh and Warm Bodies has made stars of dead people.

If this film works, history will remember Brad Pitt as a visionary, willing to take risks, never afraid of the outcome of such gambles. Max Brooks’ novels will fly off the shelf, and no one will ever look back.

Bring it on, Beltrami. Let’s see what you got.

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

Are you going to see World War Z? Is music to a movie as important as the story?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

The Three Commandments

In recent times, moviegoers have come to realize there are no absolutes when dealing with the horror genre. Ghosts can eat food (Pirates of the Caribbean), werewolves can change at will (Underworld), and vampires can sparkle when exposed to sunlight (Twilight). However, all bets are off when we talk about zombies. Zombies live in a world of absolutes.

Zombie Hand
Zombie Hand

As a primer to my Monday Mayhem series, let’s examine The Three Commandments of the undead. Established by director George A. Romero in the 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead and solidified in his 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, these three laws are what make the zombie genre unique. Without them, zombies wouldn’t exist in their present form.

I—The Dead Have Come Back to Life

A zombie isn’t a zombie unless it comes back from the dead. Much like vampires, zombies were once dead. Hence the name: undead. Through a biochemical change, voodoo or some other form of reanimation, the dead rises. This is the crux of zombiehood. Without it, zombies simply are not zombies.

What about a virus? In modern storytelling, a virus is the usual suspect in the blame-game for many undead creations. Typically, the virus runs through a population, changing them to become zombies. In strict technical terms, these creatures may not qualify as true zombies if the victims do not initially die. However, I argue if a virus has an element of death associate with it (biological or intellectual), then of course the resultant creature is none other than a zombie.

The key here is to note a physical transformation from death to life.

II—The Undead Crave Human Flesh

Every biological species requires sustenance to maintain health. Zombies do not. Zombies eat because it’s in their nature to hunger after human meat. It’s a compulsion. They cannot turn off the desire to slay a human and feed off the body. They just can’t. They are like the sharks of the underworld. They yearn, hunt, kill and eat. That’s it. They don’t stop. From one body to another, they’ll consume a whole town without regard. They are never satiated.

The Frontal Lobe
The Frontal Lobe

III—The Undead Will Die with a Blow to the Brain

The only thing that will stop a zombie is the destruction of its brain. A hunter of the undead can use various methods to attain this result. The most common is a bullet to the head. A knife through the temple will also do a fine job of ridding the earth of the vermin species. As would any of these other methods: An ice pick through the eye socket, multiple blows from a baseball bat, a sharp stick through its mouth thereby severing its spinal cord, a screwdriver to the back of the skull, a meat cleaver aimed directly at the frontal lobe, etc. The possibilities are endless. The purpose is to render the creature dead by inflicting the maximum amount of trauma to its brain. Once complete, the zombie will no longer pose a threat to any other humans.

Have you ever heard of The Three Commandments? What are your thoughts about zombiehood?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Selene

What better way to kick off today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday post than with a kick ass, female Death Dealer.

Underworld's Selene
Underworld’s Selene

I like vampires. Well, I like vampire movies, not vampires per se. Otherwise that would make me weird. Then again, I do love zombies, so that makes me weird enough. But I like a good vampire movie. And I love werewolf movies too. Just not as much as zombie movies. So when Underworld came out a few years ago, I showered, shaved, and ran to the theater hoping to catch it opening night. How can a fan of both vampires and werewolves miss this gem?

That’s when I saw her for the first time. She stood perched on a building ledge, high above the torrential downpour, analyzing the street below. Looking. Wanting. Waiting. She leapt. Gliding a hundred feet to the bottom, she landed to a bounce. She struts her way through the crowd, hunting.

Played by the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale, Selene’s mission is to destroy Lycans, a species of werewolf that, unlike ordinary werewolves, can control their transformation. Selene is a vampire and can endure daylight. Old school vampires like the ones in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, burn in the daylight. Other vampires, dare I say it—sparkle. Shivers. Selene doesn’t have to worry about spontaneously combusting, leaving behind nothing except a big pile of ash. She has immunity to UV light. She can blend in like one of us. However, I’m not sure just how much she can blend in with all that leather she wears and her attractive features. It would be like a lion blending in with a flock of lambs.

Selene is also proficient in all manner of weaponry and possesses other abilities such as speed, strength and endurance. In one instance, a group of police officers had her cornered in a hallway with no escape, wearing their full compliment of armor. No problem. Equipped with only a scalpel, she blasted past the officers spilling their blood and leaving their corpses to rot. In another instance, she plows her hand right through a Lycan as if it were some sort of fruit.

In all this, what makes Selene special, though, is her gentle side. It’s the side only Michael, a human, sees.

The Beautiful Selene
The Beautiful Selene

As terrifying and vicious as she can be, Selene’s love for Michael makes her vulnerable to getting hurt. She trusts him. She gives of herself fully to him in order to allow their love to grow.

It’s that beautiful, delicate balance between good and evil, light and darkness, love and hate that makes Selene addictive. She represents the unattainable, defending her species at all cost.

Have you seen Underworld? Did you like it? What did you find the most interesting aspect of the film?