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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: January 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Return of the Living Blog

So, here we are. This blog has been dead for almost two years and now this website is rising up from its grave-site. So I think my first post should be about the living dead. That's right, ZOMBIES! For quite a few years I have been intrigued by the whole Zombie-craze that's been going on. Growing up, I hated horror films. My family would watch them as I sat on the couch covering my eyes with my hands repeatedly saying "Tell me when it's safe to look." But as I got older I started to enjoy horror films. And the ones that I thought were the scariest and most entertaining were zombie films. I've watched quite a few of them and believe me, there are just as many horrible zombie films as there are good ones. I guess for me what makes zombies so scary is the fact that anyone could become one. You, a loved one, uncle Bob. (Yes, I know zombies aren't real just for the record...or are they?) So it's not so much the blood and gore part of zombie films I find scary, but it's scary in a psychological sense that anyone could become one. It would be difficult to kill a monster that was once your mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, or your best friend. And it would be difficult to know that this thing that used to be a loved one is now emotionless and wants to eat you alive.

I guess my fascination with zombies started back in the mid to late 90's when CAPCOM released the horror survival game: Resident Evil. By the time this came out, I had gotten over my fear of horror films, but this was a whole new ball game. How many of you who have played this game almost jumped through the ceiling while playing? I know I have, and I still do. There's something about playing a survival horror game that immerses you into the story more than a film can. It wasn't until many years later though that I started getting into the whole zombie phenomenon.

After watching a handful or two of zombie films, I decided to watch the original 1968 film "Night of the Living Dead" by George A. Romero. I don't usually like to watch movies that are older than me, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good this movie is. By today's standards it's pretty tame, but considering the time in which it came out, even I was shocked at some of the imagery. The movie caused some controversy when it was released. This film was released just before the MPAA rating system was put in place so kids were not prohibited from seeing this film. Even though the film was controversial and heavily criticized it was eventually selected by the Library of Congress for preservation into the National Film Registry as a film deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". Other film by Romero include: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead.

Romero never actually referred to the Living Dead as "zombies". The term zombie actually comes from Haitian religion. It means an animated corpse brought back to life by mystical means, such as witchcraft. But in today's terms the word zombie refers to an undead race in horror fiction.

Zombie Rules

Max Brooks, the son of actor/director/funny man Mel Brooks, wrote "The Zombie Survival Guide". I haven't read it yet, but I hope to someday as well as his other book "World War Z". So there are some rules about Zombies I'd like to talk about now. I think when movies, video games, and other zombie related things follow these guidelines, it make it a more enjoyable experience for me. I tend to prefer Romero's Zombies/Living Dead. The slow, lumbering ones that aren't extremely hard to deal with, but when in large hordes, become unstoppable. I don't like the fast moving Zombies that can run and climb walls and seem to have almost super-human strength. Zombies should have no more strength than that of their former self minus the sensitivity to pain. Whether zombies actually feel pain or not, it doesn't seem to bother them or slow them down.

We'll break this part down into categories.

How does one become a zombie?

Initially, I don't really have a preference on how zombies first come about, whether it's from radiation, a virus, or top secret government laboratory testing. But as the zombie invasion grows, how do others become zombies? Anyone who is bitten, scratched, or gets any kind of bodily fluid in their system from a zombie is bound to become one.

How long does it take to become a zombie?

Again, I don't have a preference on time. I think anywhere from a day to three days is an acceptable time. It should never be instant. Also the infected person would also notice changes as they are turning. They would slowly fade away, as the person becomes something entirely different than they were in their former life.

The Zombie lifestyle

Actually, zombies don't have much of a sense of style, or life for that matter. The only thing that keeps a zombie going is the need for food. They are very picky eaters and only enjoy the freshest meat, preferably the kind that tries to run away. Fast food, in a sense. This is why you don't see zombies eating each other and it's also how they know the difference between themselves and the living. Zombies seem to travel in large groups but I don't think it's because they enjoy socializing, I think it's just because they all happen to be in the same area at the same time. They all move together as a group because they are all driven by the same thing. Zombies are devoid of any personality and only resemble of what they once were. Whereas the basic daily routine of a person is eat, sleep, poop, the routine of a zombie is eat and then walk around until it finds something else to eat. Zombies never sit around after a big meal and think to themselves, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" or "I'm never eating again." Some of them don't even have a stomach to fill, but it doesn't slow down their appetite. Also, zombies do not say "BRAINS!" they have no vocabulary other then moans and groans.

Zombie Movement

Zombies have poor motor function because for the most part they are dead. Rigor mortis has set in, as well as body decay. Just about anyone could out-run a zombie, but that zombie never gets tired which gives it unlimited endurance to keep moving without ever resting. Because of their slowness and quietness, they are able to sometimes sneak up on unsuspecting victims. But this isn't a strategic zombie tactic, it's just their nature and it works to their advantage.

Getting rid of zombies

Unfortunately there are no zombie extermination services as of yet, but we should really prepare ahead of time. So how do you kill something that's already dead? Zombies are dependent on their brains which have been reanimated. So, destroy the brain and the zombie is no longer a problem.

Well, that is a summary of "zombie rules". Click here for a more extensive look at the rules.

Zombie Films

Like I said before, there are just as many bad zombie films as there are good ones. I'm going to talk about some films now and explain why I think they are good, bad or don't quite fit the category of a zombie film in my opinion.

Let's start with the good:

George A. Romero's films. I've only seen "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead". I have yet to see his other films, but I am looking forward to watching the other ones.

I've only seen the first three of the "Return of the Living Dead" films. I don't agree with a lot of what goes on in these movies such as talking zombies and severed body parts that still move, but I actually enjoy these movies because they're so ridiculous and funny.

Speaking of funny, I think the best Zombie comedy has to be "Shaun of the Dead" with Simon Pegg. There was also another zomcom (I just made up a new term!) called "Last of the Living" which was filmed in New Zealand. This one wasn't too bad either.

The Resident Evil series also gets a thumbs up. Movies based on video games usually have nothing to do with the game, but this one does pretty well, even though some of the characters in the movies aren't portrayed the same way they are in the game. I wish they would have left the game characters out of the movies altogether. I have yet to see the fourth installment in this series.

Here are some bad zombie films:

Zombie Honeymoon was horrible. It could have been good, but the movie kept going back and forth between being a comedy to being a drama and it just ended up becoming a flop.

Aaah! Zombies is another zombie comedy that gets a thumbs down in my book. It was an interesting concept, but they just went the wrong way with it. Four friends become zombies, but they don't realize it. To each other, they look normal. But to other people they look like zombies, except for drunk people who see them as normal. Yea...stupid.

The Horde is a French zombie film. Sure, it's action packed, but it lacks plot.

Day of the Dead, no, not the George A. Romero version, but the remake by Steve Miner. It wasn't absolutely horrible, but there is a brief scene where a zombie quickly crawls up the wall and then on the ceiling. It ruined it for me.

Films that don't quite fit the zombie category for me:

28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later are great movies, don't get me wrong. They just miss the criteria for being zombie films though. Rather than being driven by hunger they are driven by the rage virus which causes them to violently attack anyone who is not infected.

I am Legend is another great movie and the novel of the same name by Richard Matheson is what inspired George A. Romero to write and direct "Night of the Living Dead". But again, the creatures in this film are able to think and crawl up walls, so it doesn't work for me as a zombie film.

The Passion of the Christ is also not a zombie film. Sure, Jesus comes back from the dead, but with a much greater purpose than eating people. Jesus comes back to share a message of hope, love and peace and encourages us all to do the same which is contrary to what a zombie would do.

The next thing I want to talk about are other zombie-ish things I am into right now.

"The Walking Dead" series on AMC is probably one of the best things on TV right now. I've been keeping up with it online since we don't have cable right now. The first season is on Netflix if you're interested. Not only is The Walking Dead one of the more graphic and gruesome shows I've ever seen, it also has a great story line. I've heard people say they're not really into zombie related stuff, but because of this show's great story line, they watch it. In fact the end of the last episode I watched left me speechless, I won't spoil it for you, but it was the episode from season 2 titled "Pretty Much Dead Already".

"We're Alive" is an audio podcast I listen to on iTunes. It's just like the old radio dramas from the old days, only newer. Great voice acting and great sound effects are all that's needed for you to visualize what is going on. This is great for those long car rides. Just don't listen and drive if you are too jumpy. Listen with caution.

"Plants vs. Zombies" is a really fun game. I have it on my mac and my stepson has it on his Nintendo DSi. In this game you defend yourself from attacking hordes of zombies by planting various plants in your yard. The plants have the ability to fight off the waves of zombies that try to invade your house. It's a very light-hearted and comical game. To get an idea of how fun this game is, watch the video below.

Here is the music video from the game as well.

I think I'll wrap up this post now, it's gone on long enough. I'll leave you now with part of a little project I've been working on. I used to draw comics in study hall back in high school and I miss doing that, so I decided to start up again. I just happened to make a zombie related comic. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Has it Really Been Almost Two Years?!

Wow, that was a long break from blogging. I guess I just ran out of things to say. But much has happened in the past two years. To sum it up I've gotten married, moved twice and have had three, maybe four jobs...and oh yea, I've got a baby on the way in about a month, give or take. I'm not so sure what made me want to start blogging again and I don't quite know what made me stop in the first place. I'm not sure how often I'll be posting especially with a little bundle of joy on the way. I imagine a lot of my time will be spent with the little one. But I've been wanting to get back into doing this for some time now. So I would like to officially announce that Blogity-blah-blah-blog is back!

What's even more exciting is that something else I love is back. Five Iron Frenzy! FFIF is back, yes that's right, Freakin' Five Iron Frenzy! Go listen to their new single here.