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 Women Who Wow Wednesday

Julie Grigio

Last weekend I had the opportunity to watch two awesome movies. First, World War Z, the tale of a zombie apocalypse gone wild, and second, Warm Bodies, Romeo and Juliet with a zombie twist. Both movies have captured my imagination. Both movies have brought me countless hours of enjoyment. What I’d like to talk about for this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday though, is Julie Grigio, Warm Bodies’ heroine extraordinaire.

Teresa Palmer is Julie in Warm Bodies
Teresa Palmer is Julie in Warm Bodies

Played by Teresa Palmer, a native South Australian actress who in a short time has amassed an impressive list of movie credits to her name, Julie is the daughter of General Grigio (John Malkovich), a pragmatic man whose heart had died a long time ago when his wife gave herself to the zombies.

Julie’s headstrong nature couldn’t prevent her father from sending her and her boyfriend Perry on a mission outside the fortified walls of safety to gather medical supplies. When their team meets with the sudden appearance of a zombie hunting party, Julie realizes their chances of survival are dismal. In the close confines of a small room, a battle ensues with the humans attempting to eradicate anything resembling the undead. Their efforts fail and Julie’s boyfriend dies by the hands of a resilient zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult).

Now R isn’t an ordinary zombie. R thinks, reasons, and wonders about things that other zombies show no interest in pursuing. When R sees Julie in a blaze of gunfire all around him, he doesn’t see a possible meal, but a girl with a fire in her heart and a strength in her resolve. He spreads dead blood on her to protect her from the other zombies in his party, then he escorts her to his home—an abandoned plane in an airport overrun by the undead.

This is where the story shows its charm. Julie’s only concern consists of escape. While R, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to show hospitality to his guest. Through a series of mutual experiences, they form a bond. Although hardened, Julie’s fire burns within her spreading to R, slowly giving him human life. They share the same music, a few laughs, and R even gives her food to replenish her mortal existence.

Unbeknownst to R, his life flourishing from within his heart is love. And why not? Love should conquer all—including death.

Even though Julie escapes from R, she also realizes something has happened to her she wouldn’t have had to worry about several days earlier. Her tough shell she carries around to protect her from getting hurt begins to crumble. The fire deep within her begins to grow. Not because of anger for the death of her boyfriend, who R admits killing, but for the mystery surrounding her feelings for R. She doesn’t understand it and talks to her best friend Nora about it:

Julie: I actually miss him.
Nora: You… you miss… him…
Julie: I know, I’m so stupid.
Nora: Like… like you’re attracted to him…
Julie: No, I don’t…
Nora: Like… he could be your boyfriend? Your zombie… zombie boyfriend?
[pause]
Nora: I mean, I know it’s really hard to meet guys right now, with the apocalypse and stuff. Trust me. And like I know that you miss Perry. But Julie, this is just weird. Like, I wish the internet was still working so I could just look up what whatever it is that’s wrong with you.

R and Julie
R and Julie

In truth, there’s nothing wrong with Julie. In some weird and fathomable way, she finds a connection with R she’d soon rather not talk about but feels hard-pressed to question. After all, how can a dead guy spark such profound love in her to shake her from her very foundation? It goes against everything she believes in.

Unless…

…everything she believes in is wrong.

Perhaps R is telling the truth. Perhaps R is becoming more human as the love they have for each other grows. And the last one—perhaps Julie’s sadness is because she needs R in her life more than she knows. In spite of the problems, she was happy with him.

I can’t continue without revealing big plot spoilers, but believe me when I say Julie is a tough girl who deserves every accolade for what she’s been through with R.

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

Does love conquer all? How can two very different people reconcile their differences to make a life with each other?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Warm Bodies

Having seen Warm Bodies two nights in a row last month, the subtle thought of a zombie apocalypse entered my mind. I shouldn’t say subtle, I would say blaring. As funny as some scenes were, some interesting concepts came to the fore worth discussing. I’m hoping this Monday Mayhem post can do the film justice by exploring those ideas.

Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wenk)
Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wenk)

I’ll try writing this post having in mind not to give away any plot points or spoilers. I’ll attempt to keep it as general and as high concept as possible.

One of the main themes the movie emphasizes is love will cure all. It’s no secret that when people feel lost and alone they turn to family and friends for support. Why is that? Family is the crux of a stable society. When one becomes injured, family can help with raising the spirits. Who else knows us better than family? However, what is one to do when they possess a fractured family? This is where friends come into to play. Friends—good friends—the kind that have been there through good and bad, light and darkness, joy and pain, they’re the ones who can provide support when all seems lost. Warm Bodies makes it plain that having a support system will make all things better. Love will cure all.

Oh, Romeo, Romeo! The movie drips with references to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which, by the way, aside from Hamlet and Othello, is one of my favorite plays of all time. Again, I ask the question, why? Why the references at all? Is there significance with the way the characters interact with one another and how the main theme plays out?

Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jan Thijs)
Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jan Thijs)

For those who don’t know, the story of Romeo & Juliet is about love conquering all. It’s about feuding families who, by death, quell their quarrels. The entire opening of the play gives away the whole story:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life

As with the play, Warm Bodies tells of two families at war with one another, a war that can cease only with death. Yet, death is not what it may seem. For some, death may be life. And life is all that matters.

The last point the movie highlights is that no matter how bad things get, they can get worse, and they usually do. We shouldn’t ever give up on what we want from life—even if we’re in the throes of darkness. Our life is our own, to make of it what we will by sheer will and integrity.

These are the things I’ve learned watching Warm Bodies.

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

Do you have a lesson you’d like to share having watched the movie? If not, do you plan to watch it?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Movies II

In April, I featured a post for Monday Mayhem called Zombie Movies. Many of my readers enjoyed the films I had chosen, adding their own suggestions to the list of works I could highlight for a future post. Well, this is the future post. As part of this list, I’m including two new entries to the zombie genre. One film had released late last year to positive reviews and the other is still in theaters. Don’t worry I won’t give away any spoilers.

World War Z
World War Z

World War Z—For us zombie lovers, this movie, by far, is the movie of the year. Still playing in theaters, still making money and still thrilling audiences over, the story is the brainchild of Max Brooks, son to funnyman Mel Brooks who directed Young Frankenstein, another movie about a dead guy coming back to life, but in a more affable state (yes—that was one long sentence). Although the movie is nothing like the book, the film features something other zombie movies have only hinted, fast zombies. I’m talking about freaks of nature you’d dare not mess with. The movie itself is an instant classic benefiting from multiple viewings. There’s just too much to absorb in a single viewing.

28 Weeks Later
28 Weeks Later

28 Weeks Later—The Rage virus that ravaged London took its toll in 28 Days Later. Six months later, the U.S. army gets involved in the quarantine of the city and the rebuilding process. Little does anyone know a carrier of the virus enters the city limits and aids in the final decimation of the population. Believe me, if you’ve seen the first movie, this second one is much of the same. The enjoyment of this film is watching how good intentions cause the greatest misery.

Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead—In this original George A. Romero 1978 vehicle, the zombies had less intelligence and moved slower. One could duck and crawl to safety without worrying the zombies will catch their victim. The big thing about these zombies is their tenacity. Once one of them finds a human, you’d best be sure a crowd would soon follow. It’s also a joy seeing how the survivors manage to handle their situation in a closed and confined area, a mall. The funniest segment, though, has to be the precious scene where the survivors hunt zombies to the rhythm of circus music (merry-go-round music).

Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead—First of all, this movie is incredibly low budget. Mind you, this is not a bad thing. For the Sixties, there were many big budget bombs, and when this movie hit the scene, no one knew what to make of it. The general premise has the recently deceased rise due to satellite radiation. The dead attack a barn, rather, the people in the barn, as they attempt to get at the victims’ brains. Another George A. Romero film, which some consider started the zombie tales, myths and legends of old. Forty-five years later, no true zombie fan should miss this zombie classic.

Return of the Living Dead
Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead—The movie’s catch phrase should tell you the whole story, “They’re back from the grave and ready to party!” This is a movie for a Friday night with lots of friends, snacks and conversation. It’s worth watching for its B-movie entertainment value. This time, the zombies rise from a deadly gas accidentally released by a couple of bumbling medical supply warehouse employees.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies—Not wanting to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, this is the zombie genre’s answer to Twilight. Kind of like Romeo & Juliet, teenagers in love, having nothing but their whole life ahead of them. Can it be any sweeter? It could, if it weren’t for all the zombies getting in the way.

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

Can you think of other zombie movies I could have included in the list?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies, Vampires and the Economy

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, the first book in the Ranger Martin series, will publish on October 22.

An economic theory of sorts caught my attention the other day I thought I’d share. The theory goes something like this: when the economy does well, zombies rule. When the economy flounders, vampires seize the reigns. What better way to add to my Monday Mayhem series than to introduce a discussion of money, zombies and vampires?

Pontypool
Pontypool

It started with an article I came across on one of these financial sites, on my way to explore for another post I was working on. Funny how these things work. Whenever I’m looking for something to supplement a current post, something else hits me square between the eyes to prevent me from completing my research. Nonetheless, I can see how the theory came to be.

I’m writing this as is, without much commentary. I’ll provide the examples (including movie posters) more as a guide, but you can draw your own conclusions. Suffice it to say, some daring economists have already written about this before, plotting the rise and fall of zombies and vampires against fluctuations in the Dow Jones Industrial average.

Here’s my take on the theory…

Zombies, by nature, consume anything and everything. They have no sense of self-restraint. If they see something consumable, they will eat it. Nothing in their path is safe. Every so often, they lay dormant, waiting for their next big feast. As sharks frenzy, so do zombies when they spot a sure thing. Whatever obstacle may block their path, they quickly dismantle. In large groups, zombies are unstoppable.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies

So is the zombie economic model. During a recovery, consumers freely purchase having no self-restraint. A new bike? Buy it. A new car. Buy it. A new house? Yep—buy it! Everything catches their eye as fair game. There may be lulls where they seem to have satisfied their cravings, but they’re waiting for the euphoria to catch again. And if it’s Black Friday or Bargain Tuesdays at the local electronics shop, look out. Nothing will stand in their way to get to that big screen TV. In groups, consumers can ravage a store in seconds.

Vampires, on the other hand, are subtle hunters, choosing deception as their ally. They crave blood. When they satisfy their craving, they recede into the shadows. The strong and weak is no match for their cunning. Patience is part of their nature. Once they spot a target, they will stalk it until the time is right for the kill. They appear as human but their innards make them soulless creatures.

Twilight
Twilight

And so is the vampire economy. When times are tough, consumers are a guilt-ridden, crafty lot, choosing to talk their way into a deal. They take a tally of how well they’re doing by how well they’re saving. Sticker price means nothing to them. If it says $10, they’ll negotiate for $9 hoping to get it for $9.50. Large companies, small shops, makes no difference. They’ll wait. A deal is bound to come their way. When they see it, they’ll move in for the kill. If someone else spots it, they’ll push their way to get there first. Even if it means spilling blood.

Supplemental Reading Material

Have you ever heard of this theory? What is it that makes it unique among other zombie theories?