Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Zombies: End

This is sadly the end of September Zombies 2017. I hope you enjoyed these shambling creatures as much as I do and they will shamble back next year. If you'd like some specific zombie thing covered, please drop a comment or email.

This Dark Earth

The story starts right as the zombie outbreak starts. Lucy is a doctor who usually stays on the analysis side of things and avoids "wet work" which is working directly with patients. The hospital is overcrowded with sick people in various stages of the disease and she barely escapes when they get violent. Lucy flags down a truck driven by Knock Out and they try to drive as far away as possible before the nuclear bomb was finally dropped. Now, Lucy and Knock Out try to survive and avoid as much radiation and zombies as possible to save her son and then later run a semblance of civilization together.

This Dark Earth spans years of time and interlocking stories with different points of view. The first story is about Lucy and Knock Out's journey to find Lucy's son Gus. Lucy is my favorite character of the whole book and I wish the entire book was from her perspective. She has an analytical mind and no bedside manner. Cancer and other diseases are fascinating to her and she often forgets in her excitement that it's attached to a person. Her first instinct with the overcrowded hospital is that it's her responsibility to help them. Throughout the book, she never stops helping people, but tends to cut off her emotions as useless. Her head is clear through most of them novel except when she kills her zombie husband, an enormously tragic event. Knock Out is like the other half of Lucy's puzzle. He feels emotions when she can't. He isn't as smart or educated, but he can protect them physically as a large man with strength. His ego doesn't come into it at all and he isn't afraid to defer to Lucy if he knows she's better at something like shooting a gun. They become a couple later, but this establishment of their relationship shows how they interact, support each other, and fit together.

The second story is from the point of view of Tessa, an African American woman serving a military unit while plotting her revenge. She knew how to manipulate the men and it doesn't take much to get them to underestimate her. I found her storyline problematic in a multitude of ways. First, she doesn't physically fight the sexual abuse, so she's branded as a whore. Her daughter did fight and the soldiers killed her. Tessa is only doing what she can to survive while she slowly poisons the leader. Afterwards, someone else takes command and bans any sexual activity whatsoever, even if it's consensual with implications that she should control her urges and she is partly at fault for the abuse. In addition, the men are never called out or punished for literally enslaving and raping a woman and killing other women for noncompliance. Lastly, her fate is a bit riculous after all she's been through. I found the chapter very uncomfortable and hypocritical compared to what happens.

The third story picks up three years later and the zombies still haven't rotted away. Gus, Lucy's son, is 14 and growing into a leadership position at the council, a dictator group that makes all the decisions for Bridge City. The group treats people like people, but the council makes all decisions. I honestly hate Gus, but, like Carl in the Walking Dead, his development is warped due to living with zombies and the changed world. He's emotionally detached and doesn't see a huge difference between killing zombies and killing humans. His intelligence greatly benefited Bridge City as many of his ideas work and are implemented. They also broadcast helpful information like how to purify water, but it proves to lead enemies to their door. His arrogance is eventually punished when he and a group try to lead thousands of zombies to a group of slavers. It was a unique idea, but one with huge risk and it didn't pay off.

There are a few other stories that were exciting, but I won't go into them due to spoilers. This Dark Earth is a unique zombie novel that follows one group through many eyes. The ending definitely leaves it open for another book, but one hasn't been made yet. The only problem I had, besides Tessa and Gus, were the huge gaps between stories. I would have loved to see how Bridge City was established and how they became the ruling council. Other than that, This Dark Earth is very different from the usual zombie story and definitely worth your time.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2

Ash returns in the second season of Ash vs. Evil Dead after he cowardly accepted Ruby's offer to live an idyllic life in Jacksonville while she takes over the world with her demonic, powerful children. Ruby and Pablo are pretty miserable while Ash enjoys no responsibility and many many drinks. For once, no one recognizes him at all, just a face in the crowd, until a deadite shows up. Ash returns to his home town in Elk Grove, Michigan with his friends to fight Ruby and face his metaphorical demons from the events in the first and second Evil Dead films where all his friends were killed.

Ash is arrogant as ever, but the only people who admire him are Kelly and Pablo. The rest of the townsfolk call him Ashy Slashy because they think he went crazy and killed his friends and his sister (which he kind of did). Would you believe someone claiming Kandarian demons possessed their friends and you had to kill them to save them? He's under a microscope now and every little thing that goes wrong is blamed on Ash. I especially enjoy that Ash has to face his past and faces people who have no idea about his heroic deeds. It grounds him a bit and shows a different side of him. A few people from his past confront him, namely his Deadite sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss returning from the original Evil Dead), his best friend Chet, and his somehow even more racist, ill tempered, and lecherous dad who has nothing but contempt for him. Ash still has crackpot ideas that do more to amuse him than actually work, but he somehow successfully fights against evil.

This season sees old villains somehow changed and introduces new villains. Ruby's demon spawn are back, more numerous and fully grown. They have a slew of abilities at their disposal including elongating appendages, regeneration, and the ability to blend into shadows. They turn against Ruby, taking away her immortality. Ruby sees that her children are out of control and teams up with Ash and company to dispatch them. Through the season, Ruby becomes a solid part of the team even with their rocky past together. Baal is the big bad of the season, a demon more powerful than seen on the show. He can wear people's skin, manipulate emotions, and his only weakness is the Necronomicon. Baal really raised the stakes of the show and proved to be a formidable enemy. Meat puppets, the remains of those skinned by Baal, are Baal's minions like Deadites, but with no personality or humor. This season brings variation to the villains and of course regular Deadites are every present with their sick sense of humor.

If you thought this show couldn't get anymore ridiculous or over the top or gruesome, you thought wrong. The gore, blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids flow freely. One scene has blood filling an entire room from geysers. A corpse fights Ash and his head is inside its body cavity in a crazy, hilarious scene. Ash's car becomes possessed and starts brutally killing people like Christine. A puppet version of Ash attacks him when he goes to a psychiatric facility. This episode was on of my favorites because it's premise is so similar to the episode Normal Again from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that calls the entire concept of the show into question. This show surprises me in some way with every episode. It's a wild ride and I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it or have reservations.

Ash vs. Evil Dead is an incredible show led by Bruce Campbell's charisma and charm. I can't help but like him no matter how awful he can be. His sidekicks Pablo and Kelly get more badass with each passing season. Pablo gains powers and becomes the Necronomicon for a bit while Kelly doesn't put up with anyone's bullshit and becomes more capable fighting the forces of evil. The group truly cares for each other and it's the heart that drives the show. I can't wait for next season and I'm upset it's coming out so late supposedly because executives didn't want to compete with other horror shows during October. This is THE horror show and I'm sad I'll have to celebrate Halloween without it.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Zombie Tunes Part 4

Last stop for zombie tunes!

* Awakening by Unleash the Archers

This song describes the state of being a zombie under the thrall of a necromancer. Years can pass with no change. The state is both prison and safety in a way. As a servant, actions are neither good nor evil and it's just an eternal task. This style is right in my wheelhouse and it's an amazing song. The zombie aspect is an added bonus.

* I Was a Teenage Zombie by The Fleshtones

This is the theme song to an 80's horror comedy movie of the same name about a drug dealer who falls into a river and becomes a zombies. The style is retro for the time and it's super cute. There are scenes from the movie and a 60's style dance party with over the tdop acting. Just plain, silly fun.

* Zombie Stomp by Ozzy Osbourne

This song has an epic intro that lasts almost as long as the song does. The lyrics illustrates the constant danger and misery of killing zombies. They keep coming, so you have to keep fighting until  you die. This song is perfect to play zombie video games to especially with the awesome vocals and dynamic guitar riffs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Upcoming Zombies Sneaking Up Behind You Part 4

* Mon Mon Mon Monsters

This film premiered at Fantastic Fest and looks like a bunch of bullies during a zombie apocalypse. The Women in Caskets podcast compared it more to Deadgirl and how the humans are much more monstrous than the zombies. It looks light hearted and almost parody like, but they warn that the bullying can be hard to watch.

* The Walking Dead Season 8

This is the Comic Con Walking Dead Season 8 trailer. I hope this means it will be more action packed and fast paced, but editing is a deceptive thing. The trash people are back (boo), Negan threatens Father Gabriel (boo), and everyone seems united together against Negan and the Saviors. The end with old Rick seems super weird. Maybe it's pointing to the end of the series? It's a huge cash cow, so I doubt that. It starts October 22 and I will be watching.

* iZombie Season 4

I was lucky enough to see most of the Comic Con panel and Seattle is walled off as a zombie city. Check out my full report on the new things coming next season here. Very excited to see what's going to happen! No official release date yet, but expect it early 2018.

* Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 3

Ashley Williams returns! No teaser yet, but it's set to release in February 2018, which seems totally ridiculous since the first two season came out in October. Bruce Campbell states that the prophecies surrounding Ash and the reasons for them will be the focus of the season. Can't wait!

Anything I missed? Let me know!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

White Trash Zombie Unchained

Angel Crawford has completely recovered from her limbs rotting off. She's good as new and ready to return to her normal life. Unfortunately, her first day has a corpse rising as a mindless shambler zombie and attacking her and her coworkers. It doesn't take them long to discover that Angel's damaged parasite spread previously to some alligators who further spread the shambler strain. Now, it's approaching pandemic levels and the CDC is involved. Can Angel, Dr. Nikas, and the odious Kristi Charish come up with a cure before it's too late?

This is the sixth installment of the White Trash Zombie series and it's still going strong. Angel is still paying for her slip back into addiction from the last book although she is healed from its physical aspects. Although she would work hard to help regardless of the source, this shambler strain of the parasite is especially personal because it originated from her. She understandably feels responsible and guilty for those afflicted who are rapidly dying. Her relationship with Nick is at a standstill due to him witnessing her rotting away. Both are awkward and Angel doesn't want to make their work relationship weird. In school, she's taking classes at the local community college, but struggles with schoolwork and feels pretty pessimistic about the whole thing. By the end of the book, Angel goes through a significant mental transformation that I'm excited to see in future books.

This new shambler parasite seems to be even more contagious than the regular one. People lose their cognitive abilities and only attack other people or animals. If the disease goes on for too long, the afflicted simply die. Large groups of people turn at once and some things just don't add up. The damaged parasite came from the mindless shambler Angel infected in the last installment and infected some alligators in the river. The zombie alligators seem too over the top for the series, but I liked the more silly touch. In addition to the alligators, mosquitos may be responsible for the disease spreading. Since the parasite is historically not able to live in animals, this is all new territory. It also doesn't help that Saberton seems to be a step ahead of them every step of the way.

One of the things I love about this series is that something new is always discovered or learned about the zombie parasite. Mature zombies with the ability to change their appearance aren't new, but how they are created is discovered. Usually, it just happens over time to a small percentage of zombies. Another mature zombie can force the change, which Kang did to Pietro (they have an interesting history together), but the side effects can be catastrophic. Pietro became enraged for a long time and explains his almost psychopathic behavior. Just in this book, he suggests turning Charish against her will and basically enslaving her without any reservations. Thankfully, Dr. Nikas refuses to cross some lines and keeps him in sane territory.

White Trash Zombie Unchained continues this charming series with dynamic stories, memorable characters, mystery, and a sweet romance. I hope this series is not even close to stopping because I look forward to these books every year. Highly recommended and well written. In the meantime, I plan to read Diana Rowland's other paranormal series to make the wait less painful.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 25, 2017


Clint Hadson moves back to his childhood home of Fort Chicken and works as a substitute teacher at an elementary school while writing his horror novel. He deals with insufferable, disrespectful children who intimidate him, which is normal, but then they start attacking and eating other teachers, which is not. Tainted chicken nuggets caused the children to turn into zombies and a small group of teachers with two human students try to escape with their lives and limbs intact.

Cooties is a fun film that features over the top characters and situations. The characters are all tropes of some kind. Clint is a pathetic failed writer who even has his students read his book out loud for critique. When he does receive honest criticism, it shakes him and he ignores it when his ideas are rip-offs and his writing lackluster. Clint is the most dimensional character. There is Doug the morbid science teacher, Rebekkah the ultra conservative teacher, Wade the macho PE teacher, Lucy the super optimistic teacher, the stoner security guard, the desperate and hypocritical vice principal, and the ninja custodian. Rainn Wilson as Wade is by far the best in the cast. He made me laugh the most and transformed for the role. I just wish the characters were a little more realistic because they seemed cartoonish and I couldn't really be on their side completely.

I had seen this movie years ago, but it's definitely a different experience being a teacher. The children are also stereotypes, but most became flesh eating zombies. Most of what was shown were disrespectful troublemaking children or run of the mill playing children. Their parents ranged from helicopter and controlling to cursing out their children to just being too oblivious with their other kids to notice them. These characters didn't have a lot of screen time and rang true as generalizations that I've often seen. The children as zombies are hilarious as they rip into other classmates and teachers. They cease to really speak or communicate, only attack and scream, which, if you have any experience with children in large groups, is a greatly exaggerated version of how they act.

The zombie virus originated from a rancid chicken nugget made from maggot infested meat. One girl caught it and then spread it through bites and scratches. It only affects children who haven't gone through puberty, so the older and more mature kids (of which there are two) are fine. The infected have blisters on their faces, move quickly, and have some intelligence in their murderous and hungry rage. The most dangerous part of child zombies are people's attitude towards them. People find them unthreatening and don't have their guard up, leaving then susceptible to being attacked. The parents and teachers are killed while other children are converted to the zombie horde and get to play and eat all day instead of sitting inside class. One particular scene had the zombie kids playing with macabre version of toys like intestine jump rope and a severed head tetherball.

Cooties is a fun, silly movie full of visual humor. The scene where Wade is shooting baskets and has no idea that teachers are dying and zombies are running around was hilarious. Teachers also treated students as they never would in real life like tackling them and throwing them drugs to escape them. The film shows teacher's anxieties and feelings about facing large groups of children and attempting to maintain order. The only part besides the cartoonish characters I didn't like was the ending. There was no real resolution, so it felt weak. Other than that, Cooties is definitely worth a watch, especially if you're a teacher.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7

Another season of the Walking Dead! I consider it the best out of recent years, but it does still have some fundamental problems. It seems like they learned from their cliffhanger mistakes which is a step in the right direction.

The Good

* Negan

Negan is the most interesting part of the show. He goes from casually affable to in your face homicidal on a dime. One scene in particular is chilling when Negan comes over to Rick's, plays with Judith, and contemplates slaughtering them out loud without upsetting her. Intelligent and aware, he knows how to manipulate people with the right facade. Rick and company try multiple times to undermine or overthrow him, but he always seems two steps ahead, aware of their thoughts and motivations. Negan shows his power often, but also adheres to his own rules, keeping his underlings in line and not expectin them to do what he won't. On the other hand, punishment is swift and unforgiving of mistakes. He is the source of almost all the tension and fear on the show, especially when he visits Alexandria.

* The Saviors and Sanctuary

The Saviors are one of the most frustrating parts of the show in a good way. They are awful, taking more than they need from Alexandria and treating everyone like garbage under Negan's orders. They are very clear antagonists, but things are different in Sanctuary. Daryl and Eugene get very different treatment when they arrive. Daryl is locked in a cell and given dog food until he submits to work for them. Eugene is welcomed with open arms, given gifts, and treated pretty well. He turns out to work for the Saviors for comfort while Daryl eventually escapes. Getting a look at the inner workings of Sanctuary was illuminating. Everyone has to work to earn goods and they need to follow the rules. It's not as brutal as one would think as long as everyone works together.

* Rick and Creepy Carl

Rick is in shock for the first half of the season, trying as hard as he can to appease Negan and survive. He has a complete turnaround by the end and seems like a man possessed with nothing else to lose. Carl, on the other hand, seems to not fear Negan at all. He's seen so much as a child that growing up in this era has produced a new generation of people who consider it fairly normal. He genuinely scares Negan because of his lack of fear.

* Midseason Finale

I was so impressed with the midseason finale: unexpected deaths, Rosita making a huge mistake and other people paying the price, reuniting the core group except for Carol, and a strangely uplifting ending. It's a huge turning point for Rick's group that decides to redirect their energy into banding with other groups essentially enslaved by Negan and overthrowing him.

* Hilltop and The Kingdom

The Hilltop scenes feature Maggie and Sasha putting that mayor in his place when he tries to be a misogynistic ass which I love. The Kingdom is a such a bizarre place that is inspired by medieval or Dungeons and Dragons style. The King rules with his trusty tiger and puts on this odd accent to inspire his people. Although he's a self admitted fraud to Rick's people, he has the gravitas and dignity needed by such a leader and he turned out to be one of my favorite new characters.

* Father Gabriel

Father Gabriel is FINALLY an interesting character. He discovered the error of his ways, found a sense of humor, and got pretty sassy. More of this please!

The Meh

* The trash heap people and the settlement of only women

These people living in a trash heap could have been an interesting addition to the show, but they just came off as bizarre. What's with the way they talked? I get having different social interactions, but language couldn't have eroded that much. The settlement of women had all their men killed by Negan and successfully escaped the Saviors. However, they refuse to kill them once and for all and don't want to allow people to leave their location. I didn't care enough about their drama and grew annoyed with them.

The Bad

* Two deaths right at the beginning

Everyone has known because of the comic that Glenn is going to die, so the writers threw Abraham in as a twist to keep viewers interested. Glenn's death is tragic and incredibly sad. Abraham's death is barely a blip on anyone except Rosita. Putting a major and fairly minor character death together doesn't have the same impact. Plus we waited months to see who died and it wasn't surprising in the least.

* The pace

I'm not sure what it is with the writers, but everything moves so very slowly. I literally can't watch episodes week to week. I have to bingewatch them in bundles of at least 3 to get through the series. Please take some notes from the We're Alive podcast and speed the pace up just a little bit. It doesn't seem as long as other shows because so many episodes are just wasted. One problem is that one character or set of characters is usually the focus of each episode instead of bouncing around within episodes. It's supposed to create tension and keep you watching, but it's pushed too much and becomes annoying.

* Morgan

Morgan is annoying with his whole pacifist stance and forcing that on other people with pious, arrogant flair. Last season, he wasn't afraid to call out Rick, but he both takes his agenda too far and completely goes against his own philosophy.  He keeps information from Carol to stop her from returning to being violent when her people truly needed her help. Totally manipulative and uncalled for. Then, he turns around and kills an ally in front of everyone, completely destroying everything he built for himself. He's insufferable and a huge turnaround from what I thought of him last year. At least the trauma of losing his son came up, but that's the only interesting thing that happened with him.

This season was more than decent and I'm eager to see how this whole Negan situation will pan out.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Remaining

Captain Lee Harden is waiting in a bunker with his faithful dog, not for the first time. Usually, he waits for a few weeks or so, receives a call and goes on with his life. This time, the call doesn't come. He figures it might be a mistake, so he waits and still nothing. Finally, he watches the required video that tells him of a pandemic of epic proportions. His mission is to save who he can, restore order, and basically restart civilization, a tall order for one person. Fortunately, there are other people in bunkers across the US as a contigency with the same commands, but can they combat the diseased and unhinged people with any success?

Lee Harden is ex-military and without family. He figures his special assignment is nice for extra money worth going a little stir crazy every once in a while. When the time comes when his contact can no longer respond, he goes through a period of denial. Lee opts to drink and play video games to cope with the knowledge that something horrible wrong happened to the world. Once he pulls himself together, he breaks protocal to investigate his house, leaving his bunker earlier than planned. He encounters both diseased people and deranged humans. At first, he sees the infected as needing a doctor instead of a bullet in the head, but he has to protect himself from their attacks. He has much less sympathy for people taking advantage of lawlessness by shooting the innocent for fun. His decisions may to always be right, but he tries his hardest to make moral decisions, save those who need help, and punish the ones doing harm.

The zombies in the story are caused by a bacteria called FURY, the cause of major plagues throughout human history. The disease goes through 4 stages. First, asymtomatic stage can last 24 to 48 hours and be very contagious. Second, the prodromal stage is marked by fever, salivation, extreme hunger and thirst, insomnia, and loss of fine motor skills. Next, the illness stage holds loss of speech and cognition, hallucinations, loss of sensation, hyperaggression, uncontrollable screaming and yelling, and insatiable appetite. The late illness stage lowers reaction time, unsteadies the gait, and may lead to blindness. The disease essentially eats the inessential parts of the brain so only the aggression, hunger, and thirst are left of the person. Some can still speak, but usually repeat words over and over while attacking unpredictably. These are closer to the 28 Days Later rage zombies and I'm curious to see if these ones will deteriorate over time in later books.

The Remaining is an exciting book that really takes off when he leaves the bunker. It took a little too long to get there and in the dragging parts, I thought of ways to rephrase some sentences to make them sound better. The infodump of the zombie disease was a little jumbled for me, but once the action commenced, the writing improved. Other than these minor problems, I am eager to continue the series. So far, there are 6 books and I want to know what happens, how larger swaths of the US are handling the disease, and how time affects the zombies.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 22, 2017

Podcast Friday: We're Alive - A Zombie Story of Survival

We're Alive - A Zombie Story of Survival is a narrative podcast that tells the story of a group of survivors after a zombie outbreak. The main character of the series is Michael Cross, a Sergeant in the Army on reserve to go to college when the world essentially ends. He and his military friends Angel, and Saul escape their base to an apartment building, where they meet Pegs, Lizzy, and Riley and fortify it together, dubbing it the Tower. As they gather more and more survivors, inner conflicts arise while the dead still being a significant problem. While all this is happening, remaining inmates from a prison settle a strip mall and fight with them over resources until the Mallers launch a full attack. Then, the zombies seem to have a leader much more intelligent than the others who seems to want them dead.

The entire series is 4 seasons with 48 chapters, not including their spin-off series Lockdown. Each chapter is broken up into 3 parts in 20 to 30 minutes chunks except for season/series finales. It's described by its creators as a theater for the mind, which is pretty accurate. The story is told in a few different ways from direct dialogue from characters to inner monologues or journal entries all with the sound effects and background music. The series is extremely well done and immersive with a large cast of actors, memorable characters, and intricate stories. The cast grows as the show goes on and occasionally is forced to separate. People die along the way of course, but the core group stays working together against all odds.

I especially enjoy how varied the cast is and how realistic they are. Michael as the leader through most of the series isn't perfect. He leads with a cool head and logical reasoning, but he's isn't immune from panic, anger, and irrational decisions. When they are hit with their first real conflict, he's ready to give up until the people he has inspired along the way basically yell at him to suck it up and help. My favorite characters are Riley, Datu, CJ, and Burt. Riley has the biggest character transformation through the series as a cook who ends up as a competent soldier looking for revenge. Engineer Datu doesn't seem like typical hero, but he has important non-combat skills and a huge heart. Gruff and marksman Burt is a gruff older man whose loyalty is unparalleled. CJ is probably the most capable person in the whole series who always has main plans, backup plans, and contigencies for everything. Even characters I thought were annoying or awful grow to have something admirable or understandable about them.

The zombie disease has an unknown origin with bites, scratches, and infected blood transmitting the disease. Most exposure to the disease leads to a rapid turn, but some people can turn over the course of days. Zombies can sense people through smell, hearing, and sight, but can be fooled by chemicals overpowering human's scent. They tend to hunt in packs and the ones from the LA area seem to act different than the others. The rest of the zombies are much different than the ones we typically see in stories.Behemoths are huge with thick skin, never seem to get tired, strength enough to bash through walls. They prove to be extremely hard to kill. There are smaller ones who are extremely fast with thicker skin and have limited ability to speak. Jumpers are taller than the average human and can jump over long distances. Runners are capable of running 50mph or more. The smart ones were intelligent people in life who can still reason, set traps, make fire, and recognize danger. Their leader is known as Ink, who is almost indistinguishable from humans and commands the other zombies. He's led many successful attacks against various groups and sees Michael's group as a significant threat.

The only problems I had with the series have to do with convenience and some of the women in the series. I felt that too many of the central group were alive at the end and when a couple members do die, circumstances are unique to them for no real reason. I was particularly disappointed with how Lizzy's possible sexual assault was treated. It came off as people being more concerned about the parentage of Lizzy's baby for Saul rather than being concerned about Lizzy's wellbeing. Saul also brings up the incident framed as infidelity, which is pretty disgusting. It also seemed like unlikeable men were supposed to be seen as still good people underneath while unlikeable women like Kelly (in the first season) weren't treated the same way. Maybe it's because it's mostly through Michael's eyes, but it bothered me.

Other than that, We're Alive is addictive. I listened to it in over the course of a month or so. It took me a little bit to get into it, but after the first season, I was hooked. It made my commute to and from work enjoyable. I am eager to start the spin-off Lockdown and two new ones are the works called Goldrush and Scout's Honor, which should start airing sometime soon. You can also check out We're Alive: Archives, which is available through their Patreon and has director commentary and behind the scenes goodies. Despite the problems I had, I will continue to listen because it's one of the best quality narrative podcasts out there.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Zombie Tunes Part 3

* Zombie EP by The Devil Wears Prada

I have extreme emotions about these songs. The story follows a zombie apocalypse situation. "Escape" illustrates how hopeless the situation is and how you can only move forward or die. "Anatomy" describes the disgusting physical changes in becoming a zombie and how the condition is unnatural. at odds with itself. "Outnumbered" captures the feeling of fighting and guarding against the hordes of undead that grow. "Revive" shows the lack of hope or cure in the face of the disease. The last song has a "Survivor" with a bleak outlook and questions if they will ever live without zombies. I love the fast moving metal guitars and the more lyrical singing, but the scream singing is uncomfortable to listen to and literally unintelligible to me. I would recommend it if you like the metalcore style.

* Fight 'Em Til You Can't by Anthrax

The title is pretty self explanatory and the lyrics have some powerful images in them. The entire world has changed and we have to change with it. "Rage becomes your love" and "put your faith in force" shows how humanity has to be put aside to beat the undead. Violence cures the blight and makes it pure. The style is heavy metal with driving guitars, dramatic pauses, and surprisingly lovely harmonies. Anthrax has a modern aesthetic in the instrumental parts with their vocals that bring in their 80's roots, creating a unique sound.

* Waking the Dead by Suicidal Tendencies

This song has a different take than the others. While the others see zombies as an enemy and a menace, this one seeks to raise them. The beginning of the song describes jealousy for the serenity of the dead when the living experiences such suffering. I like this concept of raising the dead out of spite, but then being horrified at the reality. The video is painfully 90's with some pretty awful dance moves and a very cheesy story.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Upcoming Zombies Sneaking Up Behind You Part 3

These are zombie movies shambling  your way soon!

* Anna and the Apocalypse

Anna and the Apocalypse is a high school zombie comedy musical. Before you get all, musicals aren't horror and that sounds awful, this looks like crazy fun and people whose opinion I trust like the Women in Caskets podcast tweeted about how good it was. It looks like a full choreographed type musical that just happens to have zombies. I'm excited to see the scene where presumably Anna is practicing her routine as people fall and die around her. The snowman zombie kill is hilarious and gory. The only think I'm weary about is the actual songs. The one in commercial is a bit generic, but I hope it's an outlier in the soundtrack. I can't wait for the film's release, but it was just shown at Fantastic Fest, so it might be a while.

* Les Affames or The Hungry

There is so much creepy in this trailer. Creepy kids who are probably zombies, abandoned neighborhoods, running zombies, tied up women, hiding from zombies in a field, zombies standing ominously, zombies building some sort of structure (???), zombies screaming, and fighting zombies in the fog! Color me excited. The trailer tells us to stay be silent, be armed, and above all run. This French Canadian zombie movie looks incredibly tense and I can't wait to see it. It's playing in LA at Beyond Fest, but no distribution information yet.

* The Cured

This is the only thing I could find on this movie besides the io9 article about it. From the conversation above and the article, the cured zombies are being reintegrated into society. Can you forgive someone who has killed someone you love? They weren't in control at the time, but it's a hard question to ask of someone. Another issue is that the cured are not in danger from zombies if they get loose and attack again. I want to see a real trailer to get a better idea of if it's going to be mainly a drama or if there will be zombies onscreen. Still eager to watch it either way. I'm glad to see a variety of different stories told. This just screened at Fantastic Fest, so no distribution information yet.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)

Melanie loves going to class and interacting with her teachers, especially Miss Justineau. When she's not in class, she sits alone in her cell with no one to talk to and nothing to do until Sgt. Parks comes to collect her. When this happens, he trains a gun on her and straps her thoroughly into a wheelchair and takes her to class, to bathe, or to eat. Her classmates disappear periodically and don't return. One day, the base is attacked and Melanie finally gets to leave her very small world. She escapes with a small band of people including Miss Justineau, Sgt. Parks, Dr. Caldwell, and Private Kieran Gallagher. Together, they work to seek shelter, collect food, and avoid hungries in the wasteland that is England. Unfortunately, Melanie is discovering much about herself in her new environment, including keeping her own hunger in check...

I loved the book the film is based on because of it's different view of zombies, unexpected ending, and wonderful characters. The film has lot of the same aspects. The situation and zombies are the same. Civilization is reduced to small factions of humans and the only one seen in the film is the army base. The zombie vector is a fungus. The first generation is completely animalistic. They are attracted by human scent, follow it to their prey, and mindlessly attack. When nothing is around, motion isn't necessary and they stand still. The second generation of hungries retains some of their mental faculties even when out of human influence. Eventually, they can be taught to be as intelligent and interactive as humans. Both types of the second generation are seen in the film.

Sennia Nanua imbues Melanie with optimism and a sunny disposition despite the depressing trappings of her life at the lab. She latches onto things that make her happy and doesn't dwell on the poor treatment. What truly bothers her is when the arbitrary numbers she picks for Dr. Caldwell cause her classmates to disappear. Dr. Caldwell is cold, calculating, and above all practical. The young hungries are a means to an end, not children. I never thought I would see her in a film like this, but she's absolutely perfect in this role. Gemma Arterton plays Helen Justineau, the only person in the film that treats the hungries as human. As most teachers do, she teaches because she loves it and cares for the children, directly influencing Melanie's view of the world. I couldn't have chosen better people to play these characters.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a well made movie I was disappointed to miss in the theater. Compared to the book, there was something missing for me, but otherwise was well done. A few plot points are different than the book. Most of these differences are fairly minor, but a few annoyed. The look of the fungal plants is a bit too cheesy for such a serious movie. The visuals of actual children attacking and becoming covered in blood is much different than reading about. The duality of innocence and violence is much more obvious. The feral children are also very well acted and directed. I particularly appreciated keeping the same ending of the book. It's controversial and not at all common.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 18, 2017

iZombie Season 3

* spoilers *

The third season of iZombie brings a lot of huge changes to the zombie and human communities alike. The end of the second season reveals a much bigger and more organized underground zombie community. The company Fillmore-Graves gives protection and cover to zombies, which includes destroying the evidence at Max Rager, employing zombies, and providing vision-free brains to them. Their propaganda posters to fit in On the other hand, the more visible zombie events, even though covered up, give rise to anti-zombie groups that kill zombies indiscriminantly. As a result of that and the rapidly impending Z day when humans will discover zombies, Fillmore-Graves and the organized zombies are planning for a sanctuary island in case humans become hostile towards them. The danger to zombiekind shows itself to be human fear and hatred. The very first episode, an entire family of zombies is killed just for being zombies. Things get progressively worse afterwards.

Liv and Major take opposing stances in this new world. Liv continues her work, eating brains of murder victims and using the visions to stop their murders. Some of the portrayals were a little over the top for my taste like the kindergarten teacher, but others were hilarious. Major acting like a teenager and Liv like his father was comedy gold. Plus the Dungeons and Dragons episode had all of Liv's friends playing the game together and some more silly role playing. She isn't a fan of Fillmore-Graves being so controlling and still does what she thinks is right. Major, on the other hand, goes full force into the Fillmore-Graves military where he has a fresh start. His reputation is sunk after being revealed as the Chaos Killer. People graffiti his house, sensationalize his life, and generally treat him. The zombies know the real situation and recognize how he saved a bunch of lives. It's the only place that people don't loathe him, so he throws himself in full force even when he becomes human, putting himself in life threatening situations. Liv operates independently despite a ruling zombie power and Major submits himself to it completely.

Other characters get to become more essential to the plot. Don E took over after Blaine lost his memory, but he's taking more of a mastermind role both by himself and under the command of Blaine's father Angus. He becomes the manager of a zombie bar called The Scratching Post where drinks have brains and you have to eat a habanero pepper just to get in. Blaine returns to himself midseason when he traps his father in a well and takes over his business. He pretended that the memory loss that came with the zombie cure was permanent to turn over a new leaf and please Peyton, but his plan failed and he throws himself full force into crime once again. Ravi goes through a lot of personal drama with Peyton and makes many advances in the study of zombies.

The best and biggest development comes at the very end of the series. A deadly flu outbreak spreads rapidly, affecting only the human community. The executive Fillmore Graves orchestrated it as a reaction to all the anti-zombie violence and many in the company support the decision. The zombies who don't agree save the humans by revealing zombies to the public and turning the infected humans into zombies in order to save them. Zombies are out of the bag and heavily concentrated in Seattle now. How will the whole world react to this? Where will they get their brains? I'm so hyped for the next season!

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Boy on the Bridge

A crew of military and civilian workers traverses the post-apocalyptic world to take samples from the hungries and try to discover something groundbreaking to create a cure. They operate and travel in Rosie, an armored cross between a tank and an RV with small living quarters, weapons, and a lab. Its crew is plagued with lies, secrets, politics, and resentments becoming more toxic by the day. Pregnant Samrina Khan feels very protective of Stephen Greaves, an exceptional boy largely dismissed by the rest of the crew. He goes on unsanctioned journeys with untested inventions and eventually discovers something lifechanging, but the crew would never believe him. He keeps the information to himself until he has something concrete, but doesn't think about how this could effect the others around him.

The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel and slight sequel to The Girl with All the Gifts. Melanie and her crew stumble onto Rosie in the latter book and it's nice to fill in what happened and then tie the two stories together. This book is just as addictive as the first with just as varied characters. Stephen had an extremely traumatic chidhood where his parents were killed by hungries and their corpses protected him from discovery. As an older child, he has odd behaviors such as avoiding eye contact and physical contact with other people. He views things analytically and keeps his emotions separate. With his brilliance, photographic memory, and scientific curiosity, Stephen developed the e-blocker that masks human scent from hungries. Stephen seems to be somewhere on the autism sprectrum, but it's never explicitly stated. I felt for him because of how easily the rest of the crew dismisses him. However, he made some pretty terrible decisions that put everyone at risk.

The rest of the crew is a hodgepodge of people who don't get along. Colonel Carlisle is in command and makes confident decisions with little input from anyone else. His past is full of mistakes like firebombing civilians at the beginning of the outbreak and everyone at least internally calls his command into question. Lieutenant McQueen is a hot headed soldier who follows orders only to the letter with a big dose of disdain if he thinks he knows better.  The civilian leader Dr. Fournier undermines the entire operation with secret communication to Beacon, their base, and orders to delay so a coup won't be interrupted. He's completely willing to even sacrifice lives to garner a little bit of favor from a general. Of course he doesn't get along with any of the military as they exclude him in any decision making and in general. These tensions explode (mostly because of big egos) during the course of the story and make situations even worse.

There are two types of hungries here. The first is the mindless type that go into stasis with no stimuli. Sound, smell, movement, and body heat make them return to consciousness and attack whatever caught their attention. As heliotropes, they face the sun in their stasis and move with it. At night, movement and smell of nocturnal animals keep them active. Extreme temperatures have little effect on them and only destroying the brain will kill them. Two theories seem to be plausible about the people they used to be; either they are trapped inside the mind without the ability to control their body or they simply lose all sense of self. These types of hungries almost seem alien after the more intelligent type seen in both this novel and its predecessor.  The second iteration of them can communicate, use tools, reason, and organize in groups. Physically, their bodies are the same as the normal ones and their brains are completely different as shown with Stephen's experiments. The fungus was introduced to their bodies before they are developed, thus retaining about half of the brain chemicals and function. These being between hungry and human are fascinating and it seems that they are still a mystery even though more is explained about their state.

The Boy on the Bridge isn't quite as good as The Girl with All the Gifts, but it's close. The latter has a much bigger scope because its events affected all of  humanity. This former is on a smaller scale, but gave a better look at the past. The characters were pretty frustrating all around and I didn't connect to them as well. The writing is wonderful as usual and I was engaged for the entire story. The interesting mix of human drama, zombies, and science drew me in. I would love another book to come out as a full sequel to The Girl with All the Gifts.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Night of the Living Deb

* spoilers *

Awkward Deb Clarington parties with her best friend and runs into an attractive man named Ryan Waverly. His fiance abruptly breaks up with him after he refuses a better paying position from his father Frank. After talking and drinking for a while, they both black out. When they wake up in bed together on the 4th of July, it's awkward and Ryan pretends to leave to get Deb to leave. They are the only ones in town to sleep through the zombie apocalypse. Ryan and Deb have to work together to survive despite the awkardness and their idealogical differences.

Night of the Living Deb is a charming installment in the growing zombie romantic comedy genre. Awkward Deb is insecure and needed a push to even talk to Ryan. Her clothes were unfashionable even in the 80's and all of her belongings are out of date. She drives a clunky gas guzzling car and has an ancient Nokia cell phone. Her bizarre stories about her family, her investigative reporter questions, and her cheesy jokes won me over despite her annoying awkwardness and conservative environmental views. Her complete opposite is Ryan. He's only comfortable when he's in complete control and when he gets everything as clean as he possibly can. The position he refused was because that company was rated the most environmentally unfriendly. Their ideals clash of course, but they have to put those aside to survive.

These zombies move quickly and feel pain. The makeup is pretty basic, but it fits with the cheesy, comedic vibe. People who die seem to be rising as zombies, but the vector isn't identified until near the end of the film. It turns out to be the tap water affected by Frank's toxic company. (Ray Wise brings his usual brand of crazy and charming to Frank.) Ryan and Deb also disagreed on how to treat the zombies. As a gun toting conservative, Deb would rather kill herself than become a zombie and kills zombies she encounters with gusto. Ryan would want to live as zombie and points out that the disease might be curable and to avoid killing them, so they wrangle her best friend in the trunk just in case. Deb eventually relents and agrees not to kill any more. It's funny because I've had this exact conversation with my friends. I'm in the camp that zombies should die because they might attack me later.

The ending is unexpected. Deb has to face her fears about being in front of the camera as someone who feels comfortable behind the camera. Her look gets a full modern transformation. Her zombie report detailing the disease and its origin goes viral, but zombies are still on the attack. Overall, this was a quirky zomromcom. It's nothing profound and fits if you want a fun movie. My only problem was Deb's annoying behavior early in the film and the prevalence of romantic comedy tropes over the horror story.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 15, 2017

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

The only other Resident Evil game I've played is the excellent 4th installment, but I had heard good things about the 7th. It tells the story of Ethan on the search for his wife Mia . She went missing and sent him a cryptic message telling him to forget about her and to avoid coming to look for her. So of course he goes searching for her, leading him to the dilapidated Baker family plantation house. Right when he walks up to the property, something is clearly wrong. Blood stained saws, bones, and other macabre decoration are hung around the property, bringing to mind the twisted Sawyer family of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The story is basically Ethan stumbling around the property, running into various family members and trying to find out what happened to Mia.

The game play is pretty fun. Along the way, you pick up weapons, medicine, various Baker family artifacts, videotapes, and other resources to survive. Sometimes you get ingredients to make ammo, medicine, fuel, and other resources. It adds a choice to create what you need, which is good, but sometimes I make the wrong decisions. I like the variety of weapons, which include handguns, a shotgun, a flame thrower, a grenade launcher, an assault rifle, remote bombs, When watching videotapes, you play as whoever is in the tape to learn how to deal with a future situation. It's kind of cool playing someone you know dies or becomes caught by the family. There are also some puzzles to solve that break up the point and shoot mold. Most of the game is shooting villains and snooping through things for items.

The terrain is creepy all around. The house is disgusting with hordes of trash and broken items. The sinks, refrigerators, and random boxes always have rotted meat of some kind or bugs. The family made the house into what they wanted, closing off some doors with boards and barbed wire. Some doors have markings or figures on it like a scorpion or a snake that needs the same type of key to open. The top floors of the house are like any house, but the basement holds a processing area with a dissection room, a morgue, and an incinerator. This part of the house is also often encased in black rot that will spread as the game goes on. Other locales include an older house, a boat house, a testing area, a huge wrecked ship, and finally the salt mines. The older house is much more dilapidated than the main house with huge parts of it caved in. The rickety walk up to it is lined in baby doll parts and the house is full of flying bug nests. Every part of the set was well crafted to make the creep factor sky high.

There are a variety of villains in the game. The main villains appear to be the Baker family. The patriarch Jack antagonizes you through the first part of the game. The whole family are some kind of zombie that is incredibly hard to kill. Even gunshots to the head barely phase them. The Jack fights are usually fending him off until he challenges you to a chainsaw duel. You wield a normal chainsaw while he has two gigantic chainsaws that are crossed to make scissors. When he's beaten, he returns in a more monstrous form than before. His wife Marguerite is no less imposing and also returns in a grotesque form. Their psychotic son Lucas pops up later with a Saw-type sadistic game that you first see in a tape and then try to avoid the pitfalls that killed the previous person. He taunts you through most of the game with phone calls while his sister Zoe tries to help you.

Other smaller villains include the Molded, which are much easier to dispatch. They are tall and strong with huge teeth and large claws. They are covered with the black rot and can vary in ability. Some crawl on the floor and move quickly while others are stronger but slower moving. They are ever present while the big baddies show up once in a while. Bugs can also attack, especially Marguerite's swarming flying ones that can do a surprising amount of damage.

The horror in the game can be serious like the dread the setting and Molded bring. Other parts of it can be incredibly cheesy and over the top. In one of the first scenes of the game, Ethan's hand is chopped off and then sewn back on. During the chainsaw duel with Jack, he saws Ethan's foot off and you have to think quick to reattach it with the help of medicine. Those moments made me laugh out loud. Lots of different types of horror and tropes are included like a creepy clown automaton, a creepy child with a strange power, a psycho redneck family, and sadistic games that end in murder.

Resident Evil 7 is a fun game that kept me on the edge of my seat. If anyone came into my room while I played it, I jumped because the atmosphere is so well crafted. The music amps up when something will pop out at you and some parts of the game feel safe, which more seasoned players may not like. The only problems I had were with some of the boss fights that were hard to figure out what I was supposed to do, the final boss fight is too easy, and the overall look of the animation. Other than that, this crazy game has so much I like about the horror genre.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Zombie Tunes Part 2

More songs to nom brains to!

* Vicarious by Tool

This song has a lot of horror imagery with mentions of supernatural creatures like vampires and zombies. The post-apocalyptic imagery is definitely zombie tinged with living while the world dies and devouring to survive. Be prepared for a bleak view of the world with Tool's signature meter changing melodies that keep the song feeling just a little off kilter.

* Zombies, March! by GWAR

This song is from the point of view of the Zombie king who controls the zombies and uses them as slaves and an army. He also bemoans his own blight of unending hunger and not so intelligent soldiers. The video goes between a Night of the Living Dead type black and white film with a modern twist and GWAR singing in their over the top costumes. The zombie parts have some fun twists like a woman screaming at one zombie, waiting to be eaten, and then a whole crowd come and steal his meal. The zombies eventually come into the set and eat all of the rude producers and agents in. The song and video have a great sense of humor.

* She Was a Teenage Zombie by Murderdolls

It's just another story of boy meets undead girl and falls in love with her. I'm not a huge fan of the singing, but the lyrics, story, and beat are fun. The scene they set is delightfully funny and surreal with this guy taking her on a date like she's a normal girl. It's subversive and uses fun puns like drop dead gorgeous.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Upcoming Zombies Sneaking Up Behind You Part 2

More zombie books coming your way!

* Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World by Dahlia Schweitzer

This nonfiction book looks at the trend of viruses and post-apocalyptic narratives in context of the current events, government and media rhetoric, and the way Americans see the world. Schweitzer identifies three different types of story that reflect our society's anxiety about terrorism, pandemics, and the end of civilization. I'm very interested in what she has to say about how these stories reflect us, especially in regard to paranoia and xenophobia. She's going to tackle both movies, TV, and books like The Walking Dead, 24, and 28 Days Later. This book is set to be released February 8, 2018.

* Devils Unto Dust by Emma Burquist

The story starts a decade after the Civil War. A zombie virus has spread across the Texas desert, causing it to be quarantined from the rest of the country. Teenage Willie has kept herself and her sisters safe even after her mother turned contracted the disease. Her deadbeat father steals from a zombie hunter and she's forced to traverse the desert to find him. It seems to have True Grit vibes mixed with zombies and I can't wait for it. This one comes out April 10, 2018.

* Blood Capital by Robert Batten

The zombie virus rears its ugly head in the 21st century, uncureable and quickly spreading. Vampires act to preserve their food supply and humans flock to them in huge numbers without thinking of the repercussions. Generations later, both vampires and humans struggle under corporate rule. A scientist finally discovers the cure to the zombie virus and tries to hide it after so many of her previous discoveries were twisted and used to harm. This book sounds crazy with vampires, humans, zombies, evil corporations, and intrigue. It comes out April 10. 2018 and has no book cover released as of yet.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart

Vitus Adamson just killed his brother Jamie and now inhabits his nephew's body. Of course, he ended up in jail for murder and sees no way of ever getting out in his shiny new body. Lionel, Jamie's business associate, rescues Vitus from jail only because Jamie was involved in many off the books, risky projects that now need cleaning up. Although everyone around him seems helpful, one or all of them could be out to backstab him, including Lionel or the enigmatic and silent Elvedina. His addiction to drugs doesn't help his mental state and maybe his paranoia is only delusion.

Vitus has a much different experience than most. He spent the last 10 years as a zombie, kept coherent and intelligent by a drug called atroxopine. Without it, he would have been a flesh eating monster. As a human, every sensation and emotion is brand new. Pain doesn't even feel so bad in comparison to the numbness felt for so many years. He finds emotions in particular hard to deal with since it's been so long since he's felt any sort of emotion to the awful acts he committed. He looks back to his zombie life and sees a false bravery and callousness since he had no capacity to feel otherwise. In addition to reacclimating to human life, he has to get used to a body that isn't his. The height, weight, balance, skin quality, health, and reflexes are all different and he's pretty clumsy as a result.

The other characters are different than I expected to see in a zombie story. Elvedina is my favorite character by far, a silent, menacing woman with hidden depth and goals. Constantly vigilant, she patrols the house at all hours and fights with insane precision. Very few characters can be so memorable without saying anything. Another interesting character is Niko, Vitus' ex-girlfriend. She works as a mortician and was drawn to him as an unfeeling zombie. After he murdered his brother in front of her, she remains uninterested in him as a human. Her appearance in the novel is short, but I wish I could have seen more of her.

The work that Jamie was entrenched in has to do with killing people in their sleep. Poison is suspected, but their tox screens are clear, leading Vitus on a journey that takes him to concepts he never thought were real. The story gets much more mystical than I expected. The last quarter of the book was a mystery to me because I didn't realize this was the second installment in a series. I never read the first book and I wish the book jacket was a little clearer about that. I will probably revisit this rating and adjust accordingly whenever I read the first book, which seems to feature zombie Vitus. I'm excited to compare the character in both states and see what happened before this story.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 11, 2017

Seoul Station

* spoilers *

Seoul Station is the animated prequel to Train to Busan that details how the infection started and spread. Patient zero is a homeless man who sleeps in the train station. His friend tries to get him help from multiple places, but is always soundly refused. The homeless are always seen negatively, as an inconvenience at best and vermin at worst. The train authorities hear the commotion and threaten to kick out all of the homeless because of the noise instead of seeing what's wrong. The man's friend, whose behavior is erratic, approaches the police, who threaten him with incarceration, and a free clinic. The nurses are sympathetic, but it's the other homeless who drive the man away, not willing to give up their warm beds for a night outside even though they are recovered. The man ends up dying alone on the street due to the callous treatment of authorities and other homeless people alike and he becomes the first zombie.

At the same time, a young woman named Hye-sun is being exploited by her scumbag boyfriend Ki-woong. She recently ran away from a brothel to be with him, but he's quick to try to pimp her out when he runs short of money. He assumes her past as a sex worker and her dependence on him allows him to take ownership of her. Ki-woong is one of the most odious characters I've seen and almost every scene with him made my skin crawl. After a huge fight where he tries to guilt her, Hye-sun storms out of the house and becomes entrenched in the growing zombie outbreak situation. Hye-sun, as a runaway and past sex worker, is seen by the general public through the same lens as the homeless: as disposable, as an inconvenience, and as possessing no power. Ki-woong and Hye-sun's father Suk-gyu follow her around the city, trying to find her.

The zombies are the country's lowest and most vulnerable people rising up against those who suppress them, ignore them, and keep them poor. So many people asked one another what district they were from, choosing to value them on the place they grew up over who they are as a person. It's as if they don't even see the other person until they have that information. The zombie plague spreads farther than it should have because the homeless were the only ones aware of it for some time. The police completely ignored their concerns and their obvious terror at being attacked. The homeless also see threats in each other sometimes over the zombies and that doesn't help things either. The city is overrun pretty quickly, although a pocket of survivors are fighting them off. The police come in to keep the humans inside the quarantined area instead of saving them. Again, this is a callous choice that proves to hurt them more than help them, similar to how they have treated the problem of homelessness: allowing the numbers to grow without any attempt at aid.

Hye-sun's journey to try to find safety lasts through most of the film. Her "father" turns out to be the pimp she recently ran away from looking to force her back into sex slavery. The hero we have been following almost the entire movie is actually an abusive misogynist. He holds on to his goal even as the world falls apart around him. Early in her adventures, Hye-sun was scratched on the ankle by a zombie and succumbs to the disease as Suk-gyu tries to rape her. She savagely attacks him right. It's satisfying, but also sad. These vulnerable and ignored people only have power as the undead. The zombie plague doesn't discriminate or ask where you're from. It's the great equalizer that affects everyone equally and makes everyone the same. The end of the film shows the zombies spreading outside the quarantined area.

Seoul Station is a much more bleak movie than Train to Busan. It shows the flaws in society and how those flaws will affect society. I enjoy Train to Busan more because it's surprisingly emotional and the characters are well drawn. This film has the same emotional quality, but sympathetic characters are few. I only had a few problems with it. While I understood her emotional state, I grew frustrated with Hye-sun blaming herself for Ki-woong's behavior and her wish to be back with him despite his abusive ways. The zombie also didn't have the unique twitchy movement that they had in the sequel. I'm not sure if that decision came later, but it set those zombies apart from others. While Train to Busan is hopeful at its core, Seoul Station simply shows harsh realities with no survivors at the end.  

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins