It’s been a while since I last wrote about Horror’s two battling genres in one post. If I were to add werewolves, then it would be a regular party. For today’s Monday Mayhem though, I’m going to concentrate on zombies vs. vampires. What makes one dominant during a season while another takes a vacation?
It wasn’t too long ago that vampires stole the scene. Remember? They were everywhere. They were in movies, books, TV, magazines, songs, etc., and teens romanticized the genre, writers couldn’t meet demand. Twilight became a rage. Thirteen year-old girls wanted Edward to be their husband. Vampires were hot.
Then, as quickly as it’d started, it all changed.
Nowadays, zombies are the hottest ticket in town. Unlike previous generations of zombie lovers, we’ve become more sophisticated. We love our Zombie Runs where once, twice or as many times as we can handle, we go after competitors in an all-you-can-eat buffet of sprinting through a course for charity. In some respect, we join the troops to simply have fun while playing the part of zombie or victim.
It doesn’t end there. The most popular show on TV is The Walking Dead, about a group of survivors who try to elude walkers (zombies) as a way to find peace in a world consumed by a virus. So far, peace has escaped them. Perhaps one day they will find what they’re looking for. The show has spawned whole websites dedicated to the plot, cast and walkers.
The popularity contest between vampires and zombies is a long one. But, I have a theory. It has to do with the economy and it has to do with people’s perception of the world. This is what I think.
When times are good and folks feel secure with the economy, their neighborhood and their life, vampires rule the airwaves. When things don’t look so good, the economy is in crash and burn mode, and people are generally evil toward one another, zombies rule. Don’t take this as science, although there may have been a scientific study done here and there to prove it. I’m thinking out loud leaning with heavy generalizations.
Good times = vampires. Bad times = zombies.
This is why I think zombies are currently popular. Vampires are gentlemen. They have a certain sophistication people equate to as being rich. I mean Dracula, the most famous vampire of them all, lives in a castle. How rich is that? While on the opposite end of the spectrum is the lowly zombie, working hard with a horde trying to make a meal out of anyone it comes across.
Silly theory, isn’t it? But it makes sense, right? Twilight and a number of other vampire franchises were at their peak in popularity when the economy was doing well or on a rebound. Now that things aren’t so great, zombies have taken over the top spot.
Maybe I’m too far off base with this one. What do you think?
Founded in 2003, Toronto’s Zombie Walk has drawn the attention of thousands throughout the years to participate in one of the most elaborate cosplays ever. This year, however, the organizers face a challenge. Unless a generous benefactor makes an appearance, a financial shortfall may shut the doors to future events permanently.
Since I live an hour north of the city, I thought I’d highlight Toronto’s annual walk for my Monday Mayhem series in hopes of encouraging local readers to support this awesome event.
According to news sources, rising costs to shut down streets, insurance and policing has left organizers scrambling for donors. As of this writing, a fundraising campaign has yielded less than half of the $7,000 needed to keep the project going. Should organizers not meet target amounts, they will need to dip into next year’s reserves in order not to cancel the event.
Another obstacle organizers face is the popularity of zombies in mainstream culture that has grown exponentially for a number of years. Founders of the walk, Thea Faulds and her husband Adam Pearson, first hosted the event to a small group at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Recently, though, the crowds have grown to a massive 12,000+ attendees featuring people in full zombie garb stomping the city streets to invade Nathan Phillips Square.
Although the party is free to the public as a pre-Halloween bash, cleanup is not. With thousands of people dragging their way to the downtown core, logistics behind garbage collection efforts is astronomical.
On the positive side, the event attracts the attention of zombie fans all over the world, making Toronto a delightful tourist destination during the October offseason. Organizer, Stefania Zanini says to The Toronto Star, “It’s a family, free, inclusive event that accepts everyone. All you have to do is come in costume.”
One of those supporters is Igor Baranov, avid photographer and one of my longtime friends. Not only does he have an eye for the perfect photo, but he’s also captured the essence of the event through his wonderful imagery. Much of his work oftentimes demands him to interact with his subjects who are more than willing to pose for the camera.
Here is as sampling of his work and what the Toronto Zombie Walk is all about:
If you find yourself in the Toronto Area next month (October 25, 2014), you may want to check out the walk to see firsthand what the zombie craze looks like in action. Perfect timing as well, since The Walking Dead will have also returned to AMC. What better way is there to celebrate the show than to dress up and have fun with a horde of undead?
Men in Black is one of my most favorite Friday night fall movies. The other film I love, which has a similar theme is Mars Attacks. Yes, both are alien movies, and yes, both have a not-so-serious plot devoted to conspiracy. When these movies came out back in the late 90’s, The X-Files had a huge following. Talk about conspiracy theory. The X-Files took all that we knew back then about alien invasion and turned it on its head. Who can forget the tag line The truth is out there?
For today’s edition of Monday Mayhem, I would like to examine interesting fads that have taken over the media. In particular, I would like to look at the alien, vampire, and zombie fads of yesteryear and today. In the past, I’ve detailed how vampires and zombies throughout time have played a game of one-upmanship. Sometimes vampires are on top, and sometimes zombies. Today, zombies rule.
Where do aliens fit in all this?
As I’d mentioned, in its heyday The X-Files had garnered a massive following. Everyone wanted to know how the aliens fit in the whole humanity vs. alien universe. The show’s creator Chris Carter had a perfect formula where he’d trickle just enough information to the audience to keep them coming back for more. The X-Files had also some of the most interesting episodes on television for the time. I can never forget the episode where a cockroach appears to crawl on the screen. I screamed thinking the roach had somehow invaded my home. Through the wizardry of modern television effects, I became a sucker for the producers’ quaint, but hilarious practical joke.
Vampires didn’t become fashionable until the movie Twilight came out. I should rephrase that. Vampires didn’t become part of pop culture until the advent of Stephenie Meyer’s literary anvil hit the scene. Anne Rice, of course, influenced the genre years earlier with her book Interview with the Vampire, but teenage girls with Edward on their mind had more than blood coursing through their veins.
As with all fads, once Breaking Dawn’s star came and went zombies took over the reign as the pop culture phenomenon. With The Walking Dead in full swing and World War Z about to become a movie, is it a wonder zombies turned hot. Campuses across America played host to zombie runs while Halloween transformed from vampires only clubs to zombie apocalypse nightmares.
As for the aliens? They’re there. Listening and waiting until their time comes again. Only time will tell what pop culture has in mind once the reign of the zombies ends.
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:
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
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
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
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
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
The best things in life are free, or so goes the saying. But what if the best things in life are found in the small thirty second blurb called a commercial? Then what? It kind of skews a person’s perception, don’t you think? By their very nature, commercials are supposed to change a person’s perception. So if a commercial should happen to have zombies in it, what would be our opinion of the product? For today’s Monday Mayhem post, let’s have a look at what advertisers are doing with zombies to get you to like their product.
It’s been a few years now that I’ve notice zombies infiltrating commercials. I roar with laughter when I see those undead meanies take it on the chin when a company promotes their products. Sometimes the ads are smart, making the zombies look realistic and fit for a good beating. Sometimes, of course, the undead don’t look so hot and the producers are the ones who deserve the beating. In any case, whenever those maggot bags do make their appearance in a new ad, I’m anxiously watching the TV wondering what the advertisers have planned for me.
Below are a few of the absolute best zombie commercials available on YouTube. At one point, these ads were on TV, making their rounds, hocking their goods for the companies. Now, they are reminders of how inventive some ad wizards were with their campaign to grab our attention.
Disclaimer: I’m not an affiliate with any of these companies nor do I condone any of the products advertised. I’m simply highlighting quality ads with zombies in them. I’m also not linking to them. However, it doesn’t take a mathematician or a genius scientist to figure out how to find these gems. In fact, there’s your challenge—if you find all six, you win! What do you win? A sense of accomplishment. What did you think I was going to say, a brand new car? I don’t think so.
Doritos: Zombie Party Commercial—Comedy at its best. Zombies arrive at a house party with a pretty blonde as their host. She munches on Doritos all the while entertaining guests. Apparently, her mouth stuffed with the desirable snack causes her to talk zombie, saying things like, “Looks like you work out.” That is until we can plainly discern “that’s what she said” to a stoic undead audience. She clogs her pipes with the chips and once again says the line, this time mumbling. They all laugh.
BMW Commercial Zombie—Another good one. In the still of the night, a limping woman hops to escape from a pack of marauding zombies. She falls into a fetal position waiting for fate to takes its course. It isn’t until she realizes she’s still alive that the zombies have another thing on their mind. She sees them admiring a gorgeous BMW. Of course this does not sit well with her. What girl wants to play second fiddle to a car? Attempting to get their attention, she huffs, crossing her arms and tapping her foot. No use, the undead are mesmerized. Fade to the BMW symbol on black.
Zombie Escape / Ford Canada—Guy runs around the corner of a container in a shipping yard to spot his car. He unlocks the door on his remote and makes a run for it while a zombie chews on leftovers of who knows what. He hops into his car. Safe. Or at least he thinks. Inside, zombies surround him. Great makeup, by the way. What to do? He distracts them opening the automatic sunroof, of course. As they’re busy looking into the sky, he escapes to face another rotting corpse heading his way. Slowly heading his way. I wonder why he just doesn’t run. Anyway, he pops the back of the hatch with his foot. Motion sensor, no less. Another distraction. But he has more trouble on the horizon. A crew of zombies drag toward him. He hops back in the car. I guess it’s far better staying with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. The light bulb flashes above his head. He pops the hood, cranks the tunes and escapes into the sunset while the zombies dance to the rhythm of house music.
Zombies: The Ramifications of Yes (Official Toshiba Commercial)—This is an interesting one. Bigwig executive with the Toshiba development team ponders on the new line of laptops. Images fly through his head of an electrician dropping the equipment, then plugging it into the main electrical grid, which shorts out the system, which in turn causes a kid to drink stale milk from a broken fridge, which causes the kid to bite his roommate, which then causes a zombie apocalypse. Mr. Executive says no, telling off the development team to get their act together and make better equipment. A fun watch for its absolute ridiculousness.
XXL all sports united vs Zombies—Good gosh, this is a fun watch! Okay, so it starts with a typical suburban neighborhood, you know, woman trimming the rose bushes, man watering the lawn. It quickly escalates from there. Junior riding his scooter darts from a mess load of zombies chasing after him. But it doesn’t end there. The ugly worm-infested beasts are everywhere, crashing through fences, scaring the crap out of sunbathers. Not even the cops are safe. And this is where it gets wild. The zombies have acquired a school bus to which they’ve scale the top and propel golf balls from its surface. Yep, you heard that right. These zombies are sports freaks. As you can imagine the mayhem when zombies gain possession of golf clubs, it becomes a regular party. Until, well, until the people stand their ground with other sporting equipment in hand, tossing the jettisoning golf balls with tennis rackets and maiming the zombies where it counts. Whatever happens to Junior? Oh, he leads the zombies to a stadium where a whole crew of humans outfitted with all sorts of sporting equipment charges the hoard ala William Wallace frenzy. Superb is all I can say.
Run For Your Lives (Official)—This has to be one of the coolest videos. Athletic or not, this is one of those events everyone should participate once in their lifetime. It starts with a mellow soundtrack, a shot of the participants behind a cage, the ribbons. Then we move on to the zombies and their disturbed looks in their eyes and their rotting jowls. The 5K race begins. People sprint, zombies chase. Makes for a great story. Slow motion is awesome for these kinds of shots. John Woo, eat your heart out. On second thought, a zombie could do that. Nevertheless, folks dive through puddles, mud flies everywhere, everybody’s having a grand ol’ time. Shots of the participants smiling fill the screen. Did I say slow motion is awesome? It ends with a massive party, dancing and celebrating the day’s activities. Oh, so good.
I had two more ads to write up, but I think six is enough. After reading my descriptions, you may not need to watch the commercials anyway. Enjoy the hunt!
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.
How many of these have you seen? Which one is your favorite?
Life guarantees two things: death and taxes. Neither of which present a viable option of escape. I’d like to add a third to the mix: zombies. Everywhere we turn nowadays, zombies have the rule of the roost. They’re in movies, books, magazines, radio, TV, everyday chit-chat. Hard to avoid, really. If I didn’t know better, I’d say a conspiracy’s afoot.
Let’s have a look at where we can find zombies in the upcoming months. Oh, and I don’t have to mention this is my Monday Mayhem post, do I? Didn’t think so.
World War Z—If industry experts are right, this movie will either be extremely successful or fail miserably. I’m hoping the former rather than the latter. Based on the book by Max Brooks and staring Brad Pitt, this film’s about a full-blown zombie apocalypse. I don’t want to describe any more of it so as not to give anything away, but the promotional material sure makes this film look exciting.
The Walking Dead—Currently filming Season 4 for an October 2013 premier, the show is about a group of apocalypse survivors who search for a safe haven from evil. The evil being zombies. Although no one ever utters the word zombie, labels such as Roamers, Walkers, Lamebrains, and Geeks make for good replacements. More than your typical zombie show, The Walking Dead is more about friendship and survival. Every episode tries each friendship further and further in a refining fire. The audience watches this in awe, wondering how much can the characters take. Through the yelling, screaming, betrayals and hatred, the survivors carry on, stronger, more determined to accomplish their goal of finding safety away from the Walkers.
The Zombie Run—Actors dressed as zombies chase participants in a 5K (3.1 mile) run or sorts. The entire course features thematic elements of a zombie apocalypse (helicopters, flipped cars, fog machines, etc.). Boyhood buddies and race organizers Andrew Hudis and David Feinman came up with the idea when Hudis told Feinman he runs fastest when being chased. From there the idea took off (pun intended). Proceeds go to Active Heroes, a charity that aids veterans, active duty military, and families. A portion also goes to local charities of the host city.
Humans vs. Zombies—The rage sweeping college campuses everywhere. Students describe it as the most elaborate game of tag anyone’s ever played. Awesome, as some have said. How does it work? Two Original Zombies go up against about 150 humans. Armed with marshmallows, balled-up socks, and Nerf guns, the humans try to take out the zombies. Upon first inspection, a great disparity exists in numbers. However, that soon changes when one learns the zombies have a big advantage. After sitting out for fifteen minutes, the zombies can attack again. As this happens, the proportionate ratio of zombies to humans grows. The game seems like something I would have played in college.
Ads—And you’ll probably encounter a few advertisements on TV with zombies in them. I’m not going to list the ones I have found. Sufficient is the fact you can go on YouTube and search for them with the keywords: Zombie Ads. Prepare to laugh and be informed.
Comics and Magazines—Zombie magazines are not new. I found an issue of Modern Zombie Magazine that goes back to May 1943. But here are just a few more titles to brighten up your day: Zombiepolitan, Zombie Weekly, Zombie Magazine, Meat: Zombies Are People Too, SFX Zombies, Zombies: An Illustrated History of the Undead, Zombie Pulp, Tales of the Zombie, Two-Fisted Zombies, and many, many more!
Anyway, I only provided a small list of where you can find zombies in the next little while. I’m sure you can find them in many more places on your own.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.
Are you looking forward to any upcoming zombie-themed events you’d like to share?
The zombies are here. They have taken over college campuses worldwide. They will not surrender until every remaining human joins their cause. They are armed. And their weapons reflect their war—Nerf guns.
For my Monday Mayhem series last week, I wrote about The Zombie Run event taking place throughout cities in the United States. Proceeds of which go to Active Heroes, a charity that aids veterans, active duty military, and families. I thought I’d compliment that post with this one about the rage sweeping college campuses everywhere.
The game goes by the name of Humans vs. Zombies. Students describe it as the most elaborate game of tag anyone’s ever played. Awesome, as some have said.
This is how it works: two Original Zombies go up against about 150 humans. Armed with marshmallows, balled-up socks, and Nerf guns, the humans try to take out the zombies. Upon first inspection, a great disparity exists in numbers. However, that soon changes when one learns the zombies have a big advantage. After sitting out for fifteen minutes, the zombies can attack again. As this happens, the proportionate ratio of zombies to humans grows. At Montana State University, the zombies won the last event.
Students enjoy the game as it presents opportunities to meet new people. It also promotes stress relief on campus.
The game comes with general rules of engagement (can change based on campus location).
Humans must wear armbands at all times.
Zombies must wear headbands at all times.
Original zombies are not required to wear headbands.
When humans tag zombies, zombies have to sit it out for fifteen minutes.
When zombies tag humans, zombies must collect their ID card. An hour later, the armband converts to a headband and the former human can now hunt humans. They are zombies.
Humans must stay on campus the entire period of the game.
Zombies cannot use shield to deflect darts.
And of course there are safety rules to adhere to.
No realistic looking weaponry. Blasters must be brightly colored and have blaze-orange tips.
Blasters may not be visible inside of academic buildings or jobs on campus.
Players may not use cars or play where there is traffic.
Foam darts must not hurt on impact.
The game seems like something I would have played in college. The Original Zombie idea makes it rather interesting as well, since Original Zombies do not have headbands and can easily take out unsuspecting humans by pretending to be human. The trick is to ask the question, “Are you a zombie?” Original Zombies cannot lie. But they can certainly stretch the truth. Perfect preparation for real world politics.
Have you heard of the game Humans vs. Zombies? Have you played it? If so, what did you like most about it?