Monday, August 31, 2009

Dance of the Dead

I had the opportunity last October to watch Dance of the Dead in the theater with my faithful horror movie watching companion and sister. I really like this movie. It's zany, silly, and hilarious, but it still has some flaws. It starts off like a typical teen movie: with teenager drama. The characters are a bit different than usual: there are the sci-fi geeks, Jimmy (the loser outcast), his creepily peppy girlfriend (Lindsey), the stoner rock band, the very angry redneck guy (Kyle Grubbin), and the militaristic football coach, among others. All these characters are so unique and funny in their own way. The teenager drama soon gives way to zombie violence and lots of it. The social outcasts and losers now become the saviors of their school. This follows in the vein of Shaun of the Dead. I loved seeing the teen drama playing out amidst the zombie violence and how much the teens cared about that maybe more than the zombie problem.

I liked seeing stars of other indie horror films I enjoyed working together in this film. Justin Welborn was in the great indie film The Signal, and he plays a very different character (the redneck troublemaker), but does it well. It's great to see that he can do comedy as well as serious films. Jared Kusnitz starred in Otis, another great horror comedy, and does a great job in this film too.

There are so many funny moments in this movie. I found myself laughing out loud a lot. Although I know it goes against typical zombie canon, I love that the rock music puts them into a kind of trance and tames the wild beast. The zombie prom scene is priceless, as well as the zombie makeout scene. There were some things that were plain lame, like the running zombies (which I have never agreed with), zombies that can crawl up the wall to the ceiling, and the headless zombie that chased the main characters. Other than those few things, this movie was great. I went out the very next day and purchased the film on DVD.

Zombie Songs Part 2

Here are some more zombie songs from my iPod.

#1. Zombies on Your Lawn by Laura Shigihara has already made an appearance on my blog in my review of the cute, fun game, Plants vs. Zombies. I've done a little extra research and I have found out more information about the song and the voice behind the sunflower. Laura Shigihara wrote all of the music for the game as well as the J-Pop inspired theme song. I didn't know that the song is also sung in Japanese and both versions can be downloaded on Laura's blog here: She has some great stories here, including how she came up with the sound for hitting a zombie in the head with a stick of butter. There are also some interesting questions answered, lyrics to both songs, and sheet music if you're interested.

Here's the video in case you didn't see it in the last post.

#2. Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo is the epitome of zombie music. It rocks, it's catchy, and it's awesome. The band also features front man Danny Elfman, who is my all time favorite film composer. He is a large part of why I got into music in the first place. Anyways, back to the song at hand. I could never get tired of listening to this song. I love Danny Elfman's vocals, the guitar, the brass ensemble in the background. The song is fairly repetitive, which lends well to the catchiness of the song. Now I'm going to be quiet so you can listen to it yourself.

The Best Zombie Game Ever

I have been a big fan of zombies in general, but I didn't really get into zombie games until Resident Evil 4 came out for the Wii. First of all, I love Wii games. They are simple to execute and fun, without the expense and pretentiousness of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Second, I went through the game after my wonderful fiance finished the game first, so I had unlimited ammo and some other perks. I also had his help navigating through the levels since I have absolutely no sense of direction. (He got very frustrated, especially when I kept shooting the merchant and having to reset.) Even with these helpful things, I still took a while to finish the entire game. I am hopeless at these kinds of games; whenever I see a zombie I scream, shut my eyes, and shoot wildly. Despite my obvious lack of gaming talent, this was the most fun I have ever had playing a zombie game.

The controls for this game are very simple. You point and shoot with the Wiimote and direct yourself with the Nunchuck. The only way for this to be easier is if you played this on the PC or just shot actual zombies with an actual gun. I played Left 4 Dead on the Xbox 360 and I couldn't get past the crazy hard controls, where one toggle nobby thing is for the side-to-side movements and the other toggle nobby thing is for up-and-down movements. It didn't matter that I was bad at games in general because I couldn't even master looking in the direction that I wanted to. It was very frustrating.

The game plays out like a movie. The cut scenes are just enough to be interesting, but not so long that you feel as if you aren't even playing a game. The gameplay is exciting and scary. The big guys with the chainsaws were some of the scariest things ever. The music, the graphics, and the characters were all perfect. The game had me on the edge of my seat every time I played it.

Even though I sort of cheated when I played the game, I think anyone would enjoy this game. I had so much fun every time I sat down to play and I can't say that of a whole lot of games. Maybe I'll go through the game again sometime.

A Very Scary Movie

My sister and I saw Quarantine when it came out at the midnight release last year. We are seasoned horror movie viewers and don't scream or squirm at blood or gore. We have seen all the classics, the new remakes, and everything in between. Quarantine, however, came as a big surprise. The premise is this: a reporter and her camera man are following the local fire department overnight for a news story. They all go to a seemingly routine medical emergency, when all hell breaks loose. An old woman attacks healthy strong firemen, who after the attack exibit the same symptoms as the old woman. The doors and windows to the apartment building are locked and sealed by the CDC. Why won't they be let out? What will happen to them?

This movie has the shaky camera point of view a la Blair Witch Project. I usually don't like it because it's overdone and kind of cheesy (read Cloverfield), but it was the saving grace of this film. Because the camera man is more concerned about saving his own skin than filming zombie attacks, the camera isn't always where it needs to be to see what's going on. I think the unknown makes this film scarier because whatever is in my head is way more freaky than anything any director can put on a screen. Also, there are a lot of jump-out-and-scare-you moments, which get me every time. The suspense was palpable in scenes where they were exploring the apartment and generally being nosy, as well as in the end of the film. My sister and I clutched at each other for dear life and even screamed. I have never done this in a theater (except for Eight Legged Freaks; it was because I'm afraid of spiders, but that's different). The ending is amazing, except they showed the last frame in the commercials. Why would they do that? I hate that trailers today give everything in the movie away. Anyways, you should really watch this movie because it scared the crap out of me.

Zombie Songs

Zombie Girrrl's blog (please read her's here about Zombie Tunage inspired me to look at my own playlists and look for some zombie songs. I'm happy to say that I have found quite a few.

#1. Voltaire is known for his darkly humorous songs and deep, rich voice. I love his music in general. The sweeping violin lines against his voice are simply beautiful. He has an incredible wit and intelligence, which is apparent in his songs. This song is called Zombie Prostitute from his album Ooky Spooky. It's about a guy who's looking for a good time and meets a zombie prostitute. I won't give away the rest of the story, but it's great. I love this video because I never thought there would be so many zombie pinups. Obviously, the song is a bit crude, so if you don't like that sort of humor, I wouldn't recommend it.

#2. I discovered the wonderful comic book rock band Kirby Krackle at Comic-Con this year. One of the band members asked me if I liked zombies. I said I loved them, so I listened to their awesome song, Zombie Apocalypse. I laughed out loud so many times that I had to buy their album right then and there. It had a lot of really awesome and funny tracks, but the Zombie Apocalypse is still my favorite (with Up, Up, Down, Down being my second favorite). The guy in the song is just so annoyed by these zombies that prevent him from updating his Twitter and hanging out with his friends. He is also not into necrophilia, unlike the guy in Zombie Prostitute. If you like this song, please visit their site:

I want to give an honorable mention to a band that I don't think a whole lot of people have heard, but is awesome nonetheless: Lee Press-on and the Nails. Their album Swing is Dead is a goth swing album that I simply love. In this album, there are songs about couples beating each other up (Wave a White Flag), controlling that deranged side of you that wants to kill people (The Dark Half), and yes, even zombies (Maelstrom). Their zombie song is an instrumental with quotes from Night of the Living Dead interspersed within it. Unfortunately, this album is no longer in print and goes on Amazon for a minimum of $40. You can visit Mr. Press-on's Myspace here:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Zombie Mayhem!

This is my review of Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry.

Joe Ledger was just a cop, protecting his country. Afterwards, he is approached by the DMS (Department of Military Science) and has to kill the same man twice. His entire world view goes out of control after that. He joins the DMS and finds out about an insane terrorist plot to release a zombie virus on United States soil. Joe has to head a team of talented military men that he barely knows to foil the terrorist plan that could end the world.

This book was a great mixture of military fiction and a zombie novel. Most zombie novels are from a civilian's perspective, so it was interesting to see inside an all-powerful secret government agency in their quest to stop the zombie apocalypse. There is definitely no shortage of zombie carnage. This was one of the bloodiest books I have ever read and I'm no slouch; I've read lots of horror novels

The characters are fleshed out and realistic. Joe is a smart ass, but a dedicated cop with an interesting psychological profile. Grace Courtland was at a first a hard-ass, humorless bitch, but upon further inspection was found to be an emotional person with a tragic past. One of my favorite characters is Rudy, Joe's psychiatrist and best friend. He provides comic relief and a voice of reason for Joe, who is trying to deal with his world turned upside down. The book is in multiple narrations from various characters, including Gault, the greedy supplier of money for the terrorists, and Amirah, his insane scientist lover. The plot from both sides of this war made the book enjoyable to read. It also had me guessing how the two groups would intersect.

This book was very engrossing and attention-grabbing. If you like action, zombies, and the military, I would recommend that you read this book.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zombie Invasion at Comic-Con

At San Diego Comic-Con, there were so many zombies! Lots of advertising for Zombieland was everywhere in addition to very tall zombie women walking around with Zombieland swag (as seen above with me). It makes me wonder why zombies are so popular all of a sudden. Is it the recession or the current happenings in politics? Is it people have just woken up to the fact that zombies are awesome? Whatever it is, I am completely happy that others share my love for zombies.

Back to Comic-Con: my boyfriend and I saw on Myspace that there was going to be a zombie walk in San Diego while we were there. Plus, you could get free zombie makeup done. It was perfect. The only problem was that we could only zombie walk for about 15 to 20 minutes before we had to go catch our train. So we got our free zombie makeup, which was very sticky and weird, and we zombie walked. It was so fun to walk around and act like a zombie with hundreds of other people. The regular humans on the street seemed to enjoy it too. They took pictures and encouraged us. The only complaint I had was that zombies don't smoke. So if zombies can't smoke, then someone zombie walking shouldn't smoke. It got really annoying because my boyfriend has asthma. After that, we took a pedicab to the train station and went home in our zombie makeup. We got a lot of stares and double takes, which was pretty funny. Overall, the zombie invaded Comic-Con was a blast. I hope the zombies invade next year too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead comic book series is one of the most well written and interesting piece of zombie literature out there. There are currently 10 mass market paperbacks out and it's still going strong. The story follows Rick, his family, and his band of random friends as they struggle to survive in a post-zombie apocalypse world. The characters are diverse in every way: in sex, race, age, and sanity.

As you probably know, many horror movies rely on the characters doing stupid things to move the plot ahead. This really isn't the case with The Walking Dead series. Of course the characters sometimes make fatal mistakes, but it isn't the main plot device. (I think it's wonderful that stupidity is swiftly punished in this world.) Problems in this world do not only stem from zombies. There are so many other things to worry about: food, shelter, raising children, inner group conflicts, and even other humans.

Sometimes, encountering other humans is much more dangerous than any zombie. Keep in mind that there is no longer any government, laws or regulations to follow. People can essentially do whatever they want without any repercussions. I think this is the scariest aspect of this world. Some people turn into complete monsters and do terrible things. Even the main characters have to struggle with their own humanity because they are surrounded by so much violence and gore.

No character is safe in this series. Anyone could die at any time for any reason. The deaths are unexpected and often pretty brutal. I like this unpredictability because it keeps my interest and makes me want to know more after I read each issue. The only problem with this series is that the mass market paperbacks don't come out as often as I would like. I would recommend this series to any zombie fan. If you don't usually read comic books, please give this one a try. You won't be disappointed.


AMC expressed interest in making this into a show: Let's hope they do!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pontypool: The Movie

Pontypool is loosely based on the novel Pontypool Changes Everything. It seems like the things they have in common are a zombie virus transmitted through speech and the character Grant Mazzy. I haven't actually seen this movie yet because the theatrical release was nowhere near LA and the DVD (that was supposed to come out in July) is nowhere to found as of yet. I'm so interested to find out what direction they decided to go with the film. The novel is so complex and weird that it could never translate into film well as it is.

The author, Tony Burgess, wrote in the afterword of the novel that the film bears little resemblence to the novel. He seems to hold some disdain about his work because he's in a much different place than when he wrote it. I think this is unfortunate because the novel is so different than anything out there. He seemed to be pleased with how the film turned out. He also wrote the screenplay for the film.

Here's the synopsis of the film from
Pontypool was adapted from the novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess, who also wrote the screenplay. The story is about "Shock jock" Grant Mazzy who has, once again, been kicked-off the Big City airwaves and now works at the only job he could get hosting the early morning show at CLSY Radio in Pontypool Ontario, which broadcasts from the basement of the small town's only church. What begins as another boring day of school bus cancellations due to yet another massive snow storm, things quickly turn deadly when reports of people having bizarre seizures, developing strange speech patterns and evoking horrendous acts of violence start piling in. Before long, Grant and the small staff at CLSY find themselves trapped in the radio station as they discover that this insane behaviour taking over the town is actually a deadly virus being spread through the English language itself. Do they stay on the air in the hopes of being rescued or, are they in fact providing the virus with its ultimate leap over the airwaves and into the world?

Here's the trailer:

I hope this film comes out somewhere, whether it's another theatrical release or a DVD release, so more people can see it. It's very frustrating that indie horror films are pretty much ignored and overlooked for large, unoriginal franchises, like Saw or Final Destination or the countless unnecessary remakes that are so popular these days.

Pontypool Changes Everything

Pontypool Changes Everything is an extremely weird novel. It starts off following Les Reardon, a high school drama teacher, as a zombie virus is spreading through Canada. Beyond this, I really can't tell you much about the plot of the novel. Just when I'm getting comfortable with one set of characters, they die and I wonder what's next. This happens three or four times. I was kind of stunned each time a set of characters I cared were gone.

The storytelling is convoluted and hard to follow at times. It's unclear whether the events happening are a fictional story within a story or actual events. It kind of reads as four or five short stories instead of one overarching story. The parts that were fairly linear were great vignettes into this unique world. I enjoyed this book as long as I let the story flow, instead of trying to figure out what was happening all the time.

The zombies in this novel are unlike any other I have seen or read about before. The virus manifests first in people as an inability to use language. They end up being very confused cannibals. It's unclear how the virus is transmitted, which was something I was really interested in. There aren't any walking, rotting corpses, but the book is still chock full of zombie violence. It was interesting that in a zombie novel, the most disturbing scene had nothing to do with zombies: Siblings Julie and Jimmy live in a shack together (after their parents are killed) as husband and wife, while killing zombies and unsuspecting people alike for food. They are also children.

This is a very strange novel, but it's also undeniably unique. I would be reluctant to recommend this to my friends for fear they would think I was crazy and forever doubt any future recommendations from me. However, this book was a crazy narrative into an insane world. I enjoyed the ride, but I don't know if I would take it again.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Official Zombie Challenge Acceptance

Oops. I got a little ahead of myself. I forgot to say that I officially accept vvb32reads's Zombie Challenge before I went crazy with the zombie posts. So, now it's official. Now, I'll get to work on more zombie articles and reviews.

Zombie Romance?

Breathers: A Zombie's Lament is a zombie romantic comedy. Yes, you read that right. There are zombies. They have been around since the Great Depression. No, not the flesh-eating, mindless, Night of the Living Dead type of zombies; they are just like everyone else, except they decompose. Humans do not like the living dead. Just ask Andy. He can't talk, he's decomposing, and he killed his wife and himself falling asleep at the wheel. All he wants is for zombies to be treated like humans, but it's hard to rally when you have absolutely no rights. Zombies are ridiculed, looked down upon, and a burden on their families. There are routine dismemberments of zombies by stupid frat boys just for fun. Zombies can seek solace in Undead Anonymous, a zombie support group. After Andy and his friends meet Ray (and his delicious venison), they start to be much more pro-active and assertive. I wonder why.

I loved this novel. It is a zany comedy, but it takes on some serious social satire. There are people in our own society whose rights are in question and who aren't treated with the respect they deserve. The novel shows our flaws wrapped in zany zombie humor, hopefully it will be more palatable to those who instigate these wrongs. Fans of Daniel Waters' Generation Dead would see a lot of parallels between the two books. Another thing I liked about this book was the romantic aspects. Before reading this, I had never, ever read a zombie romance. It toes the line between sweet and disgusting very well, making you alternately say “eww” and “aww” (sometimes in the same scene).

Breathers is an extremely unique zombie novel that I couldn't put down. I can't wait to see what Scott Browne will do next.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Zombies Ate My Brain!

As anyone who knows me realizes: I love zombies and cute things. I occasionally think zombies are cute, especially in the new PopCap game, Plants vs. Zombies. In this fun and fluffy game, zombies are trying to cross your lawn to your house to eat your brains. To stop them, you must plant different varieties of plants to protect you. (The plants have cute little faces too!) There are numerous types of plants, including peashooters, sunflowers, and "wall-nuts." The zombies are just as numerous, with different types that vary in speeds, modes of attack, and size. My favorite zombies is the Dancing Zombie, which looks just like Michael Jackson in the Thriller video. This zombie calls up back-up dancer zombies who proceed to do the Thriller dance across your lawn.

If you get bored of adventure mode, there are some great alternatives: the Zen Garden, puzzles, survival mode, and mini-games. The titles of the minigames and puzzles are funny puns on zombie films and pop culture in general, which gives it an extra dimension of fun. Plus, who can resist dancing and singing to There's a Zombie on Your Lawn?

I would recommend this game to any casual gamer or any zombie fan. The only problem with this game is that it may be over too soon for those really talented gamers out there to be worth the cost of the game. I, as a decidedly untalented gamer, love this game and will be having fun with it for quite a while.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My first post + ZOMBIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've never posted on this blog before, but prompted by zombie goodies on vvb32's blog led me to start. I've been writing reviews for a while, so I guess it's time to share them here. I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies about 2 months ago. It's a new spin on an old classic...

The basic plot of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies needs no summary because it is a well-known and -loved/-hated classic story. However, the awkward courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy is now peppered with cool ninja moves and bloody zombie violence. Because of the zombie uprising, everyone now has to defend themselves and their family by being educated in the deadly arts. Not only do the inhabitants of this society have to worry about social niceties and avoiding faux pas, but also zombie attacks and keeping their skills honed.

This book was really funny. I love the illustrations (that are of course mostly of scenes with zombies). I love that the people still cling to inane things like parties and manners in the face of the zombie apocalypse. Despite the liberties that are taken with some scenes, the essence of the characters are preserved. This is the aspect that I love the most about this novel. I really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice when I read it in high school. This novel is more of an homage or an addition to the story, not a mockery. As a fan of both zombie books and classic literature, I think this book can please both camps, despite their differences. I hope this version of the story makes it more accessible to those who would not normally read classic literature.

As a horror fan, I have read a lot of zombie books. This one is unique in that it takes place in the past, where there are no cars, machine guns, cell phones, and all the other amenities we depend on every day. In comparison to Jane Austen's world, our modern world is a picnic during a zombie apocalypse. The zombie threat is much more present and dangerous in this novel, where they have to get around in carriages and can't instantly contact a friend miles and miles away.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies succeeds in being a new spin on an old classic. Seth Grahame-Smith really blends his writing style with Jane Austen's in a seamless fashion. This novel is for zombie and Austen lovers alike.