Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Characters

A few days ago, I watched World War Z—again. This movie will not go away, will it? I remember thinking how quickly humans had turned into zombies. The bite. The convulsing. The white eyes. The shreaking. And the cycle continues. I’d noticed this before, but never really analyzed it in depth. Not something I’m about to do either. I suppose that’s a good thing since it means the story kept me entertained enough for me not to wonder about these silly little nuances in character design.

R from the movie Warm Bodies
R from the movie Warm Bodies

In past posts, I’ve used Monday Mayhem as a springboard for fleshing out (pun intended) new concepts in the zombie genre in order to understand what makes a good story regarding the undead creatures. Because that’s what they really are—creatures. Anything that’s not human is inhuman. I think we can classify zombies as inhuman. Wouldn’t you say? Anyway, after a quick survey of my past posts, I realized I’d omitted one key topic that would come in handy in any zombie discussion. Who are the zombie characters I’ve grown most fond of during my fascination with all things undead?

I’m not going to limit this to a single character, but I would think a type of zombie would also constitute a character. Wouldn’t you think? Nonetheless, let’s see how it goes then you can tell me if it makes sense or not.

R—I’d written about Warm Bodies‘ R once before, yet I always seem to feel I haven’t done justice to this character. He’s a zombie with a heart who falls in love with a girl who just as rather put a bullet in her head than spend the afternoon with the undead. Why do I like him? He’s vulnerable and displays childlike qualities. He wants to learn and wants to teach. He’s a monster who becomes more human as the story progresses.

406 from the movie Zombieland
406 from the movie Zombieland

406—Known as the girl from apartment 406. In my opinion, she is Zombieland’s most interesting undead character. Played by the beautiful Amber Heard, 406 makes her appearance early in the movie and with a quick resolve, makes an impression on the audience. Her advances toward Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) are anything but sensual. When she tries to take a bite out of him, he knows better and the mad dash begins. Fun fact about 406? Even though infected with the zombie virus, she’s still as attractive as ever.

28 Days Later Zombies—Some of most malevolent zombies make 28 Days Later a zombie lover’s delight. They’re fast. They’re tough. They’re strong. These true creatures of the undead bite, kill, and eat. They’re ferocious, crashing through windows and tearing apart doors. No matter the circumstances, if the armies weren’t there, they’d decimate an entire city, which they’ve done before. How else to describe the devastation they cause?

Shaun of the Dead Zombies—They happen to be my favorite zombies of all. They’re slow, dim-witted and sometimes hilarious. How else can I describe Shaun of the Dead zombies? When victims throw vinyl records at these misfits and survive, you know we have real winners here. The best way to distract them from eating you is to act as a tour guide in order to steer them away from friends by appearing as the only tasty snack they ought to consider as their only option to consume.

I wanted to talk about a number of other characters including those in World War Z, but then we’d be here all day. I’m sure you’d appreciate a shorter post with fewer characters and an opportunity to add your own, than a longer one with a gamut of zombies to read about. Perhaps one day I’ll explore the whole zombie universe, but that day isn’t here yet. For now, have a go adding your favorites and see how far you can take it.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Which characters haven’t I mentioned that you like? What makes them memorable?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies at Sea

The safest place to be during a zombie apocalypse is at sea. Last summer’s blockbuster hit World War Z proved this by setting the story’s base of operations on a battleship stationed off the coast of the United States. For my Monday Mayhem series, let’s have a look at a few reasons why it would make sense to live on the ocean during the undead’s reign of terror on dry land. Similarly, we can’t ignore the one problem that would exist should someone think about employing such a survival strategy.

Yacht [Photo Credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]
Yacht [Photo Credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]
Becoming a castaway at sea during the course of a zombie apocalypse would entail many hours of planning and plenty of resources. Much of that planning would involve lists of supplies, access to waterways and the type of boat used for the expedition. Let’s not forget the most important aspect of such a venture—security. How will a survivor defend the ship should a sudden attack take place, by military or otherwise?

First off, what kind of supplies should a potential survivor plan to take with them should a zombie apocalypse take over the world? To answer this question, we’ll have to know what kind of boat will become the home away from home at sea. Will it be a sailboat, motor boat or yacht? As luxurious as the idea of purchasing a yacht is, the cost for a twenty-five to thirty-five footer can go for more than $20,000. That price does not include docking fees and crew. The price for motor yachts jumps dramatically once fuel and mechanical maintenance comes to play. Of course, someone will have the bright idea of stealing a vessel once the apocalypse goes full swing, but we’ll see why that won’t work in the real world.

Yacht [Photo Credit: This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication]
Yacht [Photo Credit: This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication]
After determining the boat we’ll take to sea, we’ll need to head over to the mall for some supplies. From the onset, this is not going to be pretty on the pocketbook. Are you ready? Here we go. Depending how many passengers travel with you, you’ll need paddles and oars in case the motor has a bad day and you’re stuck wondering what to do next. On the list go life vests, boat seats, fishing rods and racks, anchoring equipment, boat lighting, first aid, and pumps in case you hit something and need to get rid of the water flooding the hull. In addition, guns and ammunition will come in handy when defending your floating paradise. That’s why it’s a bad idea for some geniuses to think they can steal a boat from their owners, not knowing if said owners are packing heavy.

This is all very well and fine, but why would it be a good idea to dock in the middle of the ocean during a zombie apocalypse anyway? I can think of several reasons. The big one is zombies can’t swim. Try as they may, they can walk the ocean floor and that’s as far as they’ll get to coming close to your boat. Also, in the ocean there are no zombie viruses to fight since that would constitute someone already being infected with the contagion and spreading it onboard. Easiest way to combat the spread of contamination is to throw the infected off the ship. Problem solved. Lastly, other than storms surprising us in the middle of the night, a certain peace comes with living on the ocean. We can have a good night’s sleep without worrying the undead will have a field day on our bones during our slumber.

As promised, the one big problem facing those choosing the ocean as their refuge is food, or rather the lack thereof. After several months at sea without a grocer in sight for miles, the fresh fruits and vegetables will be gone. More than likely, so will the meat, if the vessel does not feature a freezer in the galley. Dry goods will eventually disappear as well. As much as anyone would enjoy living out at sea, food supplies will dwindle, tempers will flare and someone will want to go back to shore for a fresh supply of avocados.

Surviving at sea during a zombie apocalypse is a great idea, but it comes with its costs and challenges. Knowing what those costs and challenges are will aid with the decision making process. Are we ready?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you thought of what it would be like surviving at sea during a zombie apocalypse?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

A Zombie Party

Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Toronto, my parents provided me a normal childhood by rearing me on a steady diet of cartoons, sitcoms and movies. TV introduced me to a world of characters I would have otherwise not known. Some of those characters possessed the skill to frighten me in ways that would prevent me from having a good night’s sleep. Dracula, Frankenstein, the werewolf, and to some extent, the mummy creeped me out. Zombies never did anything for me.

28 Days Later
28 Days Later

Shocking, isn’t it? It’s Monday Mayhem. Would you expect anything less?

I mentioned this once before in another post that as a kid I considered zombies cartoonish, pasty, disfigured anomalies I didn’t take seriously until I saw the movie 28 Days Later. That’s when I knew my life had changed and couldn’t look at zombies the same way again.

Since then, I have a staple of movies I recommend to everyone interested in understanding zombies better. By no means are these the best zombie films, but they are defining works for the genre.

If you’ve read me long enough, you’ll know how much I enjoy George A. Romero’s undead compendium—The Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Land of the Dead. Produced over the course of thirty years, these films set the rules for subsequent zombie behavior. Although some may consider these B movies, every year these titles have withstood the test of time by attracting new audiences with their original concepts and stories.

I’ve learned from these movies The Three Commandments of the undead:

I—The Dead Have Come Back to Life
II—The Undead Crave Human Flesh
III—The Undead Will Die with a Blow to the Brain

As noted, 28 Days Later is the perfect introduction for new film students feeling the need to want to appreciate the zombie genre. The movie contains ideas some viewers may find interesting. For instance, the work presents a solid case regarding a zombie apocalypse fashioned after a virus running rampant among the population. Also dominant in this film are fast zombies, something explored fully in World War Z.

Zombieland Rule #8
Zombieland Rule #8

These last two movies are my favorites. Without these, folks would take zombies much too seriously. I’m talking about Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. Both films have their quirks. Both films are equally hilarious. The more useful of the two, Zombieland details a set of rules zombie apocalypse survivors can utilize to remain alive. Instructions such as “beware of bathrooms” and “cardio” made it into the Top 10. Shaun of the Dead makes an impression by the amount of gags it pulls. In one scene, the boys throw vinyl records on the oncoming undead all the while arguing as to which records to throw, always having a favorite they’d rather save as a keepsake.

Indeed, I could mention many other movies, but these ones provide a future zombie film enthusiast something to think about when perusing online for a title to watch on a cold Friday night. Who knows, maybe they’ll even find the Resident Evil franchise to whet their appetite (pun fully intended).

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What movies would you recommend your friends to watch that would act as a primer for learning about zombies?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Anniversary Week—Part I

Tomorrow, December 17th, will be the one-year anniversary when Jack Flacco: The Official Site went live. In celebration of this milestone, I will present the Top 5 Most Popular Monday Mayhem posts of 2013.

Before we get to that, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who visited my site over the course of the year. It’s been quite a ride, folks. We’ve delved into zombies, zombie apocalypses and the like, and we had fun with one of this year’s most notable movie titles (i.e. World War Z).

I don’t share this information freely, but I thought it appropriate given the nature of the festivities for the coming week. Here are some stats* you might find interesting:

  • Total views since going live: 47,562
  • The most views in one day: 463
  • Most views in one month: 5,244 views in March 2013
  • Most visitors in one month: 2,537 visitors in November 2013
  • The country with the most views: 24,646 views from the United States

* Statistics range from December 17, 2012 – December 16, 2013 as at 7:01am EST.

Let’s move along to the main attraction. When choosing the Top 5 Most Popular Monday Mayhem posts, I first wanted to present them based on amount of views. The more I thought of it though, more it didn’t make sense. For instance, a visitor may pop into the site and hit the same post several times within the day. I didn’t think it fair, considering there could have only been two visitors for that day and a hundred views.

Next, I thought I’d use comments as the benchmark. You know, the more comments a post has, the more popular it is. Again, I didn’t think it represented a good way to measure popularity given I can comment on my own post a dozen times and push it ahead on the popularity scale.

No, what I used is the number of “likes” a post has garnered throughout the year. It will not only present a fair representation of popularity for a post but also prevents users from gaming the system with multiple “likes”.

Okay, enough chitchat.

The Top 5 Most Popular Monday Mayhem posts of 2013:

  1. Neuron
    Neuron

    Zombie Apocalypse: Causes“The other day, an article published October 29, 2007 on Cracked.com titled 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen, caught my eye. I typically base most of my posts on multiple sources. However, because the site’s article instilled such a horrible chill in my bones, I decided to focus my entire Monday Mayhem…” ~101 likes

  2. Discovery Special: It Could Happen
    Discovery Special: It Could Happen

    Zombie Apocalypse: Ground Zero“I’ve always wondered if a zombie apocalypse were to take place now, where would it hit first? It’s Monday Mayhem and this has been on my mind all weekend. You know, I’ve thought about this question. It’s not one of those precious topics floating around lunchrooms across America. Like, how many Twitter followers does Lady…” ~88 likes

  3. The Zombie Run
    The Zombie Run

    The Zombie Run“If you have a soft stomach, I suggest you leave—now. If not, I have news that may be beneficial to your health. For a while, I’ve followed an event so scary, so shocking, and so exciting; I couldn’t let it go much longer without including it in my Monday Mayhem series. Some of you already…” ~85 likes

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

    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…” ~78 likes

  5. Jack Flacco takes you to the edge of horror
    Jack Flacco takes you to the edge of horror

    My Book Release“It’s not every day I can say tomorrow I have a book releasing. It’s not as if I write a book every day. That’d make me one fast writer, for sure. It would also make me an incredible genius. Believe me, as much as I’d like to punch myself in the arm, no way would…” ~75 likes

Come back Wednesday when I reveal the Top 5 Most Popular Women Who Wow Wednesday posts of 2013. Don’t miss it!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you have a favorite Monday Mayhem post you’d recommend to your friends?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Evolution

George A. Romero, the father of modern zombie flicks, said in a recent interview with Daily Dead that zombies are advancing at a rapid pace—in his words, “advancing even a little further.” As part of my Monday Mayhem series, let’s have a look just how advanced zombies have become from their docile, sloth-like beginnings.

Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead

When Night of the Living Dead made its debut in 1968, the campy feel to the scenes made this film a Horror lover’s delight. What audiences didn’t know was the movie would go on to become an anchor to which other movies in the zombie genre would aspire. For years after its release, zombies had the intellect of vegetables and lurched to wherever they needed to go. They didn’t have reasoning skills. They lacked any sense of intelligence. If they wanted something, they’d hunt for it until they found it. Zombies back then were somewhat silly.

This is where Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead exceeds. All of a sudden, zombies became focused, one-track-minded, machines. They wanted flesh and would do anything to get to it. Their strength to combat those who stood in their way became paramount. Their greatest asset became in attacking in numbers. One zombie will not do it. But maybe many would. And that’s just what happened in this film.

Then in 2005, Romero made a point with Land of the Dead that zombies were here to stay. The undead became intelligent. A character by the name of Big Daddy took over the screen teaching other zombies how to fight the human resistance, taking arms, and pushing forward to destroy those who interfered with the zombie plan to annihilate humans from the face of the earth. (Incidentally, filming took place in a prominent location in Toronto of which I am very well familiar.)

World War Z Horde
World War Z Horde

At the same time, in 2002, director Paul W.S. Anderson presented a version of zombie others couldn’t soon dismiss. In Resident Evil, the idea of a fast zombie took hold, the impact of which wouldn’t be realized for a decade or more. When 28 Days Later appeared later that year, the fast zombie had begun to proliferate modern media, and studios looked to screenwriters for original ideas regarding the concept.

But it wasn’t until 2013 when World War Z’s fast zombies became the norm. The film depicted the undead as stampeding Velociraptors that had the ability to hop from walls without consequence. Gone are the days when zombies lurched from area to area in a slow drag that would aid in the salvation of mankind. Instead, these zombies had the ability to launch from their stationary positions to a determined path simply by allowing a smell or a sound to guide them.

What will 2014 hold for the zombie evolution? Will there be a film so different, so astounding that it will rock the zombie apocalypse foundations from its axis?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think will come next for the zombie genre?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie: The Ultimate Pack Hunter?

Wolves hunt in packs. One wolf is no match against the formidable majesty of an elk. But a pack of wolves can take down the beast without much effort, and share in its spoil. At first glance, zombie behavior seems to match that of wolves—hunting in packs, following their prey until it becomes fatigued, and sharing in the bounty. However, differences remain. This is Monday Mayhem, and these are my thoughts regarding zombie pack hunting.

Zombie pack hunters
Zombie pack hunters

Except for a few films, the majority depict zombies as pack hunters. The typical scenario involves a human stumbling in the midst of a zombie infested feeding ground and becoming the quarry in a quick game of cat and mouse against a horde of undead.

For the pack hunter idea to hold true, it would mean zombies would have to exhibit some form of intelligence in order to coordinate attacks against their victim. Given what we know about zombies—their lack of intellect, agility, and cooperation—coordinated attacks seem unlikely.

Wolves, on the other hand will organize into groups, stalk their prey, and give chase until it falls by the wayside. Should the prey enter a body of water, the pack will lay low while two or more of the ravenous killers stand guard by the edge.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Another difference with zombies and known pack hunters lies in their organization. A pack’s classic configuration contains an Alpha. He’s the dominant male that leads the pack to perform dastardly deeds of horror. Chimpanzees demonstrate this attribute in the wild when two males vie for the top position in the clan. A good example of the Alpha male conflict plays well in the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

So if differences exist between the animal kingdom and zombie packs, what kind of hierarchy do the undead follow?

Zombies function on instinct. Yes, very much like animals. The main component to their internal makeup is their sense of tracking. When one of them spots a potential victim, others in the vicinity respond likewise. You might want to call it a built-in GPS. You can see this behavior at work in movies such as Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later.

Other than I Am Legend, which some consider a vampire flick, the Alpha male is missing in popular zombie movies. If anything, the undead act upon external stimuli in a uniformed and structured fashion. If one smells human, they all smell human. Thus, the chase begins. Soldiers can eliminate the front line of an advancing undead army, but zombies are too dumb to know when to give up. They’ll continue forward until every human becomes the evening’s main dish.

Inasmuch even I would enjoy seeing zombies emulate wolf pack behavior, the undead have their own agenda. I’m sure one day someone will come up with the idea of having an Alpha male leading a pack of zombies through an apocalypse. Until then, we have to wait and enjoy what we currently have at our disposal.

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

What do you think of zombie packs? Do you think Alphas leading the horde would prove even more terrifying?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Indestructible Zombies

Let’s talk about something serious for a change, something that has been on my mind since the summer. If I could call it a great disturbance in the force, I would. But then I would have to admit surrendering to the dark side for taking the Star Wars universe out of context. Okay, so I’ll call it a logic problem. Then again, that may prove too pointed of a statement. How about this for Monday Mayhem: Since when have zombies become indestructible?

World War Z's Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane
World War Z’s Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane

I’m a huge fan of World War Z, and for those folks who have read my stuff since the beginning, you will know I’m also a fan of George A. Romero’s zombies. You know the ones, slow, dragging, lurching, not much intelligence. What they lack in aptitude they make up in multitude. In other words, they may be slow, but if they corner you in an alley with no way out, it’s lights out for Thursday night bowling—permanently.

It took a while for me to warm up to the notion zombies could run at the pace of a Kenyan sprinter. I attribute the sudden surge in velocity to an adrenalin rush fostered by the zombie virus, whatever that zombie virus might be. I accept it. It would also account for the incredible behavior change in the undead’s muscle stability and lack of flaccidity. Add to the laundry list a slow decomposition rate instead of the typical mortis states, and we have the making of fast zombies.

I’m okay with that idea. It makes logical sense.

World War Z's destroyed cities
World War Z’s destroyed cities

Where things start getting out of hand is seeing zombies crash into immovable objects at blunt-force-trauma speeds. When a head attempts several times to smash through a windshield, wouldn’t said head sport a few scars of the incident? Perhaps a concussion or two? Even more so, if a zombie attempts to scale a massive wall and other zombies use its body as a footstool, wouldn’t it be fair in saying said zombie would break a few bones in the process of its journey? And how about after scaling the wall, which I’m assuming thirty feet high, wouldn’t the zombies plunging to the other side land on the ground in a big huge splat?

Guide me here, folks. Sometimes I miss things along the way. I’m willing to suspend disbelief up to a point, but when the laws of physics run amok in a film—a zombie film, not a superhero comic book film—I’m not sure if I can accept the latest twist in zombie resilience. Anyone have a reasonable explanation for the undead’s sudden ability to fend off broken bones, torn ligaments, shattered faces and lack of rotting in World War Z?

So many questions, so little time.

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

What’s your reaction to World War Z’s superhero zombies?