Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Tallahassee

Zombieland is a grim film. It provides a commentary on society’s ills, and demonstrates humanity’s failure to manage an apocalypse of grand proportions contrasted against civilized utopian values. Cinematic enthusiasts do well by taking this movie seriously. Queue the vinyl record scratch. Yeah, right. Are you sure we’re talking about the same movie here?

Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee

If you’re a new reader to Wednesday Warriors, this series is not about stuffy interpretations of male movie protagonists. No, it’s about having fun! And what better way to have fun than to shine the spotlight on Tallahassee, the lone wolf, undead Zombieland killer?

Let’s dispense with the pleasantries and go for the jugular. When we first meet Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), he’s not your typical zombie exterminator. He likes Twinkies. He’ll do anything to find Twinkies. And his idea of a party is feasting on a plateful of Twinkies. Did I say he likes Twinkies?

Zombieland
Zombieland

How’s that for a good start? Oh, and he’s real good with a shotgun. And a Louisville Slugger. And hedge clippers. A little off the top is what he always says to an oncoming zombie threat.

To his benefit, Tallahassee does like kids. On his journey to find the last Twinkie, he has travelling with him an insecure teenager called Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) trying to reach Ohio, Wichita (Emma Stone), a kick-ass chick whose attitude is more suitable with a ship full of sailors, and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who is good at taking advantage of other people’s good nature.

Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson
Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson

Also, when it comes to working with others, Tallahassee has only one rule: stay out of the way. He has a method to dealing with the undead that may not be as pleasant as one might expect. He actually has fun killing them. In one instance, he rings the dinner bell to attract the wrong kind of attention. But it is nothing that a shotgun can’t cure.

Then there’s the matter of his anger. He doesn’t have any. He’s one of the most laid-back, zombie-fighting characters on screen. When confronted by a huge horde, he’s smiling through the whole thing wondering if he could get a selfie with one of them before he bashes their brains with a two-by-four.

Enjoy the little things.
Enjoy the little things.

Yet, if anyone thinks Tallahassee lacks compassion, let’s not forget he is the one who keeps falling for Wichita and Little Rock’s dirty tricks to surrender his gun. He has to help. His nature dictates he has to aid those less able to help themselves. He has that compassion running through him he’d rather not let anyone else see, but he hasn’t a choice when the situation calls for it. He cares about others, even if he shows otherwise.

And you know what? I like Tallahassee. He’s a courageous character. There’s no lying with him. Either you’re for him or against him. None of that wishy-washy “oh, I don’t think we should be doing this” stuff with him. He takes his hits and keeps moving forward.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

Have you seen Zombieland? What do you think of Tallahassee?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Favorite Zombie

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, the final book in the Ranger Martin trilogy, will publish on October 20.

When it comes to zombies, I have favorites. Who can forget the zombie from The Walking Dead the survivors find at the bottom of a well? What about the zombie from apartment 406 in the movie Zombieland? And of course, then there’s R from the film Warm Bodies. I think he’s the most endearing—even though he cracked a victim’s skull with his bare hands in order to get to the victim’s brain.

Jesse Eisenberg and Amber Heard in Zombieland
Jesse Eisenberg and Amber Heard in Zombieland

Let’s talk about favorite zombies for today’s Monday Mayhem. What makes them special? Why are they the way they are?

I mentioned the zombie from The Walking Dead caught in the well. The creature is not only one of my favorites, but the scene itself is hilarious—that is, if you like dark humor. The scene begins with the survivors finding a well. The resource would not only provide usable drinking water, but also allow them a measure of hygiene. The problem? There’s a walker in the well. They figure that if they can haul it out, they have a chance of salvaging what’s left. The plan calls for sending one of the survivors to tie a rope around the walker as a means of hauling it from the hole. Right up until they noose the walker, the plan seems to be working fine. As they heave the walker out of there, they don’t realize how heavy it is. And just as they had pulled half of its body out of the well, what do you think happens?

Well (pun not intended) the walker that had been in the well for such a long time, had absorbed a fair amount of water. The sheer weight of its body and the force the survivors exerted on that body caused it to tear in half. The walker’s lower half, including its entrails, collapsed back into the well. Not only was the scene kind of gross, but if you like that sort of humor, it was funny. Suffice it to say the survivors couldn’t save the well.

Nicholas Hoult as R in Warm Bodies
Nicholas Hoult as R in Warm Bodies

Another one of my favorites is the zombie from apartment 406 from the movie Zombieland. She doesn’t start as a zombie, but after a few hours hanging out with our hero Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) in his apartment, she’s ready to tear out his jugular. What I like about this zombie the most is the audience first sees her before she changes. She’s warm, considerate, and true to “the girl next door” moniker, she’s the girl any guy would love to date. Somehow, though, a homeless person bites her and she runs into Columbus’ apartment for safety. He has no problems with that. She’s attractive, what guy could resist not having an attractive girl asking for help?

Several hours later, the effect of that bite takes hold. Columbus runs for his life. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

What I enjoy about the whole scene is watching this beautiful girl turn into one of the zombies that then threatens to take Columbus’ life. A lot goes on in this scene, and it’s worth watching a few times to gain the subtle nuances the filmmaker intended.

Lastly, my other favorite zombie is R from the movie Warm Bodies. He’s the zombie that gains intelligence as the movie progresses to its inevitable conclusion. The theme is simple. A zombie falls in love with a human and wants to change the world with love. As ideal as it sounds, the story works for many reasons. The best reason I can think of is the love he has for the girl. Throughout the film he allows Julia into his world, and he’s the one who ends up changing for the better. R not only redeems himself by granting Julia her freedom, but also grows as a character, which then leads to greater things for him.

Barring from spoiling the entire film, R is one of my favorites because of his potential for growth, regardless if he is undead.

Your turn. What is your favorite zombie?

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.

Do you have a favorite zombie? How about a favorite zombie movie?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

My Favorite Zombie Scenes

How many remember the scene in the movie World War Z where one of the zombies bites a human and a little girl initiates a countdown? It’s one of the most harrowing depictions of an undead change I’ve ever seen on film. So many elements make that scene work—the muted colors, the pounding score, the cold setting of the street while an infected rampage attacks others like a pack of ravenous wolves. Gosh, what a great scene.

For today’s Monday Mayhem I’m going to talk about my favorite zombie change scenes, and why I think they make for great viewing for any zombie lover out there.

28 Days Later
28 Days Later

Let’s start with 28 Days Later. No scene can compare with the one where Frank (Brendan Gleeson) steps under an infected body overhead and a drop of its blood hits him in the eye. He was one of the primary characters in the movie, delivering others from the evil that had spawned in the laboratory to consume the world. After much wiping and rubbing and contortions, he doesn’t have a chance. The way he had taken the role of father figure made the scene even more ironic in that he’d become the victim he attempted to prevent others from becoming.

Next up is 406 (Amber Heard) from the feature Zombieland. She’s Columbus’ (Jesse Eisenberg‘s) attractive next door neighbor a few apartments over. She pounds on our hero’s door looking queazy, running scared, but looking all the more beautiful than when Columbus first remembers her. Naturally, he offers her refuge from the homeless man who had attempted to bite her. All she wants now is to sleep. She grabs a pillow, rests it on Columbus’ shoulder, and falls into a deep sleep. After a quick fade-to-black, He awakens to find her changed and chasing him in his apartment. The scene works incredibly well because the audience, enchanted by her beauty, wasn’t expecting what she looks like after the change takes place. It also proves the cliché to be true—beauty is only skin deep.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

The last scene comes from the TV show The Walking Dead. Andrea, the woman who seems to be the most ordinary and plain character of the lot, holds a vigil for her sister who falls victim to a walker’s bite the night before. The day after, while the other survivors make due with everything they have as their possessions, Andrea maintains her silence holding her sister in her sight and never letting go. She knows what’s to come. She understands that if her sister fell to the walkers the next step in her life will not be that of resurrecting as a living being, but a monster. As the morning draws on, movement in her sister sparks a smile in Andrea. Yet, the pale eyes, the subtle growl reveals a different story. Andrea may remember her sister as a loving, compassionate girl, but the body rising from the dead says otherwise. Andrea knows what she has to do.

The gunshot resonates throughout the valley liberating her sister and initiating Andrea’s hatred for the walkers.

These are the scenes I remember the most about characters who have met an untimely death and came back less than in stellar shape than what they were when they were alive.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you have any zombie scenes of which you never tire?

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

Zombieland Rules

I love Zombieland. I can watch that movie several times in a row without getting bored. I also love the little things about it. I love how Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) loves Twinkies. What’s not to love about a zombie slaying Twinkie lover who just as well bash the brains of the undead than have a civilized conversation? Have I overused the word love yet? That’s why for today’s Monday Mayhem series I want to write about the Zombieland rules. Do you know what they are? Have you ever heard of them? If not, you’re in luck. Have a gander below to find out what they are.

The Zombieland way
The Zombieland way

Rule #1—Cardio: Do you want to survive the zombie apocalypse? Get in shape. Zombies nowadays are speed demons. They can dash from one side of a football field to another in seconds. Best keeping one step ahead of them than finding yourself served as the main course to a zombie buffet. No one wants that.

Rule #2—Double Tap: Here’s how this works, one of the undead races towards you and you blast it in the head. Don’t be cheap. Unload another bullet in their rotting corpse for insurance. You’ll never know you killed it unless its jaws lock on your jugular. By that time, it’ll be too late. Use another bullet. You’ll be glad you did.

Rule #3—Beware of Bathrooms: One thing’s for sure, when a zombie’s after you, you don’t want to have your pants down. Avoid bathrooms. Toilets kill. Zombies can smell you a mile away. You want privacy? Get lost in the woods with a small shovel. Once you’re done, pile the dirt and disappear. You don’t want that stuff getting on your shoes to have a horde after you because of improper waste management.

Beware of bathrooms
Beware of bathrooms

Rule #4—Seatbelts: If anything’s certain during the zombie apocalypse, you’ll be running hard. The second point of certainty is you’ll be driving fast. You’ll always want to have your seatbelt firmly secured around your waist. The highways will have obstacles everywhere and if you should so hit one of these obstacles, you’ll be taking a header through the windshield on to the highway ahead. Always wear your seatbelt.

Rule #7—Travel Light: Do you think you’ll have time to pack your bags and hit the road when zombies are knocking at your door? Of course not. You won’t have enough time to think, let alone pack. Much like an expectant mother, it would be a good idea to keep a knapsack prepped either at the foot of the door or the window. You’ll want to carry guns, knives, bullets—you know—the essentials. Rope will come in handy, too. But the reality is once the zombies spot you and chase you, you’ll have little else to do than run. You can’t run fast if you’re packing heavy.

Rule #11—Check the Back Seat: Have you ever seen those Horror flicks where the girl dives into the driver’s seat of her car after having ran a mile from an unknown entity? Can you tell me what happens next? Right, someone or something hops from the back seat and makes her into a side serving for lunch. Always, always check the back seat of your car.

Always check the back seat
Always check the back seat

Rule #16—Limber Up: The worst thing that can happen to you when running as fast as you can from those maggot bags is pulling a muscle ten feet into your escape plan. How could it happen in the first place? You didn’t limber up. You see, during the apocalypse, you won’t have time to fall on your backside because you’ll be too busy running. You’ll need to keep in shape if you’re to avoid the dreaded mandibles of the undead latching on to your leg. While you’re doing other things, throw in a few jumping jacks. Better still, toss in several pushups. After all, a limber human is a saved human.

Rule #17—Don’t be a Hero: Everyone loves a hero, but how great is a hero if said hero ends up as a meal? Let’s admit it, pulling the trigger on a zombie and watching its brains splatter against the wall is fun. And if you save someone in the process, it’s a thrill. However, if it’s you against them and you have nothing to gain, better save your ammo and run. Those few seconds contemplating how glorious zombie brains would look all over the dash could have gone to better use like, hightailing it out of there while you still have your life in your hands. Always run.

Rule #32—Enjoy the Little Things: Remember your first crush? Remember how it felt learning you’d passed your worst subject in school by the skin on your nose? Remember your first Twinkie? In the hustle and bustle of a killing the undead, we’ll tend to forget the little things that make life special. Take a moment between kills to reminisce about life’s little wonders, about the beauty that was and the joy you gain when thinking of the simple things. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll also find the last Twinkie on earth and know what I mean.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What are the official Zombieland rules? Where can I find them?

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

I Hated Zombies

There once was a boy name Jack, and he hated zombies without lack. Crazy, isn’t it? That boy was me. I disliked zombies because I thought they were the stupid, malignant, dregs of Horror that amounted to nothing better than cheap laughs and gruesome kills.

Dead Rising 3
Dead Rising 3

Now that I have your attention, I’m dedicating this Monday Mayhem post to the skeptics. To all those folks who hate zombies and don’t know why. Ahem, because they think zombies are of the devil—or something so insanely ridiculous as such. This post goes out to you dislikers of the undead. Prove your hatred.

It wasn’t long ago when I, too, freely admit to have been one of the zombie naysayers. I’d thought vampires were cool and werewolves were powerful. But zombies? What did they have? I couldn’t get past their weak countenance. They wore torn clothes, for crying out loud. Even I could have punched one of them in the face to have it topple over like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Ah, but you see, that’s where I went wrong. I thought of a zombie as a single unit. That’s not where a zombie’s strength lies. Zombies don’t work that way. Separate a zombie from the crowd and yes, it’s time to say good-bye to another of the undead. However, as part of the horde, it’s as good as dug itself in like an Alabama tick. As a whole, they’re impenetrable; functioning as a single-minded mass with only one thing on their mind—eat.

Someone's in Trouble
Someone’s in Trouble

When did I change my view on zombies? I saw 28 Days Later late one night while my family slept, and I needed some solid entertainment. I didn’t know what the movie was at the time, having caught it a few minutes after the credits, but I watched it anyway. Hard not to watch someone waking up in hospital garb to what looks like a world gone crazy. Then have the movie tease me to a slow reveal. That’s what started it all for me. I saw the zombies. They weren’t weak but strong brutes able to turn other humans into zombies. And the humans were afraid of them. I thought, what is this? Shivers trailed my arms to my spine leading up my neck. The movie captivated me. I wanted more.

From there I went on a zombie binge. Within a week, I had seen 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland.

The old Scooby-Doo paradigm I had carried for so long had all but disappeared, replaced by today’s zombie—a predator of vast proportions, able to seek and destroy those who’d dare get in the way. Their single-minded focus to rid the world of humans fascinates me. They act as Star Trek’s Borg, a collective bent on satiating eternal hunger pangs. How can I argue these zombies are weaklings?

To exacerbate the issue, I’d fallen in love with the notion zombies can reproduce. One bite is all it takes and a human is no longer with the living. In some respect, it might actually be an improvement since some folk are dead already.

Yae, naysayers, come and give pittance to your trite cause for slamming zombies wherefore you know nothing of. You hate the undead in ignorance. Let the beasts of the field show you the empty graves to those who will dismember the world.

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

What do you like about zombies the most? Did you have an epic flip from hater to lover of the genre?