Happy Post Halloween Everyone!
The wife and I had a great Halloween / Anniversary yesterday. Having dressed up for our reception last year it kinda sets the bar high for repeat performances each year. Suzanne understandably didn’t get dressed up but far be it for me to let some cold weather, stress from packing and no costume idea deter me from throwing something together. For a couple of years now I’ve contemplated tossing on my #7 jersey and walk around with a bloodied stuffed dog on a leash and be Michael Vick but I ultimately decided that wouldn’t be in good taste so I fell back on an old reliable favorite…
I had a ball concocting a thick gooey blood recipe. In the end some petroleum jelly, red food coloring, corn syrup (to loosen it up a bit) and cocoa powder (to darken it) did the trick. The torn apart skin came courtesy of this really gross putty-like Halloween makeup we got in a dollar store a couple years ago. You can mold it and blend it in to your skin so it did the trick in a pinch.
I’m sure the dear Mrs. Etheridge to fill everyone in on what happened throughout the day. Geez. It still doesn’t sound right saying that. Mrs. Etheridge has always been reserved for referring to my mother so it just feels weird calling Suzanne that. Anyway my night was capped off perfectly with, of course, some zombie action. No I’m not talking about creepy tantric freaky deaky sexual acts with the Mrs. I’m referring to watching the highly anticipated The Walking Dead premiere on AMC.
I should be flogged for not having collected the comic series. A guy who boasts about loving the genre so much should however, the comic world and I had a very turbulent divorce many years ago so there is a reason behind the madness. Perhaps one day I’ll reveal the details but not today. Today we’re talking zombies. For those of you who live under a rock (or just don’t follow the zombie horror genre) The Walking Dead is a black and white comic series first published in 2003 by Image comics and tells the story of a band of survivors trying to find safe haven amidst a zombie apocalypse. At 78 current issues the series won the 2010 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series at the San Diego Comic Convention.
The AMC adaptation debuted last night and I must say I was rather impressed with it. I’ve been waiting for a good zombie tale for years now. After having to brave through bombs like Zombie Wars and Survival of the Dead my faith in the genre was hanging by a thin thread. I was so desperate for some legitimate zombie work that I even started writing a zombie blog tale months ago just to provide my fix. Thank goodness for Frank Darabont. He’s directed such hits as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and most recently The Mist and has single-handedly brought my faith back into the modern zombie. While a ton of credit must be paid to the comic creators Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore it takes a good writer and director to translate that to the small (or big) screen. Darabont doesn’t just give you a more developed view of zombies to revel over but allows you to see and feel the psychological effects of a cataclysmic event such as a zombie apocalypse.
The cast is an interesting one. Playing the lead character Rick Grimes is British actor Andrew Lincoln. I’m not too familiar with his work but you can rarely go wrong with a Brit in the lead. I’ve always appreciated how dedicated the English are to the craft with many of them being classically trained theater performers. The pilot episode focuses primarily on the main character so having someone compelling and convincing enough to hold the audience’s attention is a must and they found that with Mr. Lincoln. Fellow Brit Lennie James also joins Lincoln in the premiere playing a distraught father named Morgan Jones. Mr. James is no stranger to the post apocalyptic world having played Special Agent Robert Hawkins in the prematurely canceled series Jericho. Those of you unfamilair with him can get a pretty good understanding of how fantastic he is just by watching the premiere. He’s an incredibly intense actor with a wide range. Let’s just say he has that uncanny abilty to convey emotion like few can. I’m not a fan of giving spoiler riddled reviews of shows so you’ll just have to watch the series to understand.
All in all I am totally enthusiastic about this series. I had a glimmer of doubt that it might be the nail in the coffin for my love of all things zombie but in fact it opened up the lid and let them out. I hope that they’re able to continue impressing me with the upcoming 5 episodes. My heart is heavy though. The last time I got so buzzed about a television series they canceled it after two seasons despite it having a huge following. It just goes to show you that if it ain’t CSI Montana or Law and Order: Kindergarten Patrol then it won’t last on network TV. Thank goodness this is being branded as an original series by AMC. Their two other original powerhouses Mad Men and Rubicon seem to be doing well so hopefully The Walking Dead will walk tall along side them.
Long before the Team Jacob vs. Team Edward teenybopper wannabe vampire nonsense there was (and is) a difference in opinion as bitter as the most savage rivalries. In 2002 Director Danny Boyle tantalized horror fans with his hit 28 Days Later. First and foremost it should be made abundantly clear that Danny Boyle’s “infected” are not zombies but in fact (like the name suggests) living human beings that suffer from a viral infection. This virus turns the hosts into mindless berzerkers that pretty much kill anything and everything in their path. In the movie the infected resembled undead creatures in their marred and often bloody appearances. They chased down victims with cheetah-like speed and tenacity. The infected would do everything from devouring their victims to ripping them apart with their bare hands. While this movie never claimed to be a “zombie flick” it is often accused of being the birthplace of the fast zombie. The true catalyst came in the form of the 2004 remake of uber-cult classic Dawn of the Dead by Director Zack Snyder.In it we got to see zombies in a whole new light, to the chagrin of many old school fan boys and girls. Undead marauders charged through city streets like feral children chasing down the ice cream truck. They were relentless, agile and downright nasty in every aspect. Those who grew up in the Age of Zombies had mixed reactions to this new take on such an grounded source. Much like the True Blood vs Twilight warfare we’ve seen in the vampire genre, people quickly separated into two camps.
You see the patriarch of the modern zombie, George A. Romero, introduced the world to one of the most identifiable horror characters in cinema to date. The term zombie was most commonly associated with voodoo and the trance-like state victims would be placed under (as seen in the 1943 movie I Walked With a Zombie). They were few and far between in numbers and overall not too terrifying to behold. Romero changed all of that. At the time movie goers had never experienced such a radical concept as “the undead” so when Night of the Living Dead debuted in 1968 it took the world by storm. The low budget marvel terrified audiences across the nation and brought forth Hollywood’s newest movie menace. In 1978 he followed that iconic film with Dawn of the Dead which served to strengthen the fascination with the modern zombie. people couldn’t get enough of them. Zombie Mania was running in full effect. Romero has admitted in numerous interviews since then that he never anticipated the phenomenon to grow as much as it did. They were more socio-political statements about the times he was living in. As a result a lot of the nuances about his zombies were never really addressed. As of late Romero has lost his grip on the genre he helped create with disasters like Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead and culminating in the straight to DVD flop Survival of the Dead. Thankfully author Max Brooks quietly assumed the mantle as the face of zombie knowledge with his books World War Z and the Zombie Survival Guide. They not only reinforced the original concepts of Romero’s zombies but gave them chilling detail. To many fans Brooks’ dedication to the genre made him the unofficial new authority on all things zombie. They’re slow, lumbering, clumsy and generally move no faster than an old man getting out of bed. For 30+ years this is the form of zombie we’ve all become accustomed to and the faithful remain true to this vision to this day.
Then along came Zack Snyder and his “fast zombies”. This new unfamiliar twist didn’t fly too well with many who had grown comfortable with the classically slow and painfully stupid breed we’ve all come to know and love. Pro-Slows were in an uproar. You had fanatics go as far as bring up all kinds of biological contradictions in an effort to “disprove” the logic behind Snyder’s Fast Zombies – as if slow zombies had any more factual basis for their existence. There are any number of reasons why some people like the fast or slow ones. I personally have mixed responses to both. I’ve never been afraid of the classic zombies – even when I first watched them as a wee child. Sure the acts they committed were gross and gory and I never wanted to be caught by one (or a dozen) but that was the extent of the fear factor. They were dopey and even comical at times so it was really hard to be scared. Snyder’s zombies removed that comfort zone of being able to casually jog away from a zombie and put a bit of anxiety back into the genre. While they never really scared me either the reinvention did make zombies fun once again especially after Romero’s recent film sequel debacles.
So where does this leave us in the great debate?
Absolutely no where. Let’s not forget the most important thing – this is all make believe. How can we have a debate over a subject matter that has no factual basis whatsoever. I’m sure there are people who will toss biology logic and terminology around but you can’t validate or disprove something that doesn’t exist in the first place. Putting aside that sobering reality, I propose a compromise between the two sides. Let’s have the best of both worlds. It’s fair to assume that fresh kills would have a bit more pep in their step than ones that have been dead for a while so why not let them be fast initially. Decomposition and wear will eventually make them the uncoordinated moaning pussbags we’ve grown accustomed to. Viola. Problem solved, right?
At least neither type sparkle in the daylight. We can all agree on that at least. 😉