Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category


Prometheus and the Alien canon

July 12, 2012


Warning, spoilers here if you haven’t seen Prometheus!

tldr: Is Prometheus part of the Alien canon? Not really, although it might be an Alien prequel.

I finally went to see Prometheus. Surprisingly late for a franchise fanboy, but nevertheless. This won’t be a review, as there are plenty of those around. This won’t even be a rumination on Prometheus‘ themes, as there are plenty of those around too. This will simply be an account of my thoughts on how Prometheus relates to the Alien canon.

I you’re one of those people who can’t really be bothered to read through a whole bunch of text for a simple conclusion, but the tldr (too long, didn’t read) is too short for you, I’ll just quote a piece of Wikipedia for you.

Lindelof suggested that the other parts of the script were strong enough to survive without the Alien hallmarks, such as the Alien creature which he believed had been “diluted” by the exposure it had received since, and the burden of “all the tropes of that franchise with Facehuggers and Chestbursters”. He offered that the film could instead run parallel to those films, such that a sequel would be Prometheus 2 and not Alien[…]

That’s basically it.

While I enjoyed Prometheus despite its many shortcomings, I don’t really see it connecting with the canon established in AlienAliensAlien³ and even the much maligned Alien: Resurrection. For me, it’s somewhat similar to the AvP films in that regard, although obviously superior (and remarkably similar to the first one).

Why? Simply put, Prometheus doesn’t feel like it. The whole concept of giant, god-like creatures creating human life in their own image…it’s a bit too space opera, a bit too…just a “no”. For me, the concept of Alien lies in the name. It’s literally something alien, very much different from us. While interesting similarities can be seen (the mother theme being the most prominent), at the end of the day it is not us. The Space Jockey is also something different – a massive humanoid with an elephant-like head – of which nothing is revealed. It hints at something far beyond our knowledge. It’s strange, alien.

Prometheus bypasses this theme, actually reversing it. In a very literal sense, the Space Jockey is us. By extension, the proto-Aliens, created by the Engineers, are created by us. The Aliens are no longer alien, simply our own creation. This pretty much flattens the Alien canon. While it doesn’t of course destroy it logically, it does so thematically. The whole Alien saga becomes something not about the Alien, but humans. Even the Space Jockey is revealed to be basically a giant human in a suit. AvP made the same basic mistake in a very similar way, having the Predators worshipped as gods and so on.

The internet is full of Alien fans doing their best to tie Prometheus smoothly into the Alien saga. While this can obviously be done (“Oh but it was probably a different ship and maybe there are two different groups of Engineers and the proto-Alien was simply a different version!”) I find it easiest to simply accept that it isn’t necessary. Prometheus simply doesn’t fit the established Alien canon, no more than the graphic novels and the like.

What about the obvious similarities then? As the creators themselves said, Prometheus is set in the same world as Alien. It provides a lot of fan service, enough references to make a fanboy froth at the mouth and things like that. It’s definitely something of an Alien movie. Ridley Scott has said that Prometheus needs at least two sequels to reach Alien. This sounds reasonable. It would also make for a new canon: Prometheus, Prometheus 2/3, Alien. With the sequels not existing, it’s very difficult to say whether it would work. The leap from Prometheus to Aliens is simply too big, that’s for sure. As it is, Prometheus is a fairly interesting what if -scenario set in the Alien universe.

Parallels can be found, one being the new Star Wars trilogy. The original trilogy was about Luke Skywalker, with Darth Vader being an interesting antagonist, dramatically revealed to be Luke’s father. Then along comes the new trilogy, and suddenly the whole Star Wars saga is actually the tale of Darth Vader – even if he only plays a fairly minor role (in terms of screen time) in the original films. Like it or not, if there’s a Prometheus trilogy and it’s linked with the Alien canon, then all of a sudden the whole series of seven movies becomes a story of giant god-like beings and humans as their creation. All because of a very minor character/plot element, the Space Jockey, being shown. It’s no longer the Alien saga.

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion Alien – the Eighth Passenger is a hell of a lot more interesting than Humans – the Seven Other Passengers.

That’s why, dear readers, Prometheus just might be an Alien prequel, but for me it’s not part of the Alien canon. For me the Alien saga will be about the Alien, and Space Jockeys will probably always remain a mystery. I’ll keep my Xenomorphs and Space Jesus separate, thank you very much.


War of the Dead – a review

May 28, 2012

Well well well, I finally got to see the first (mostly) Finnish feature-length zombie film, War of the Dead (or Stone’s War as it’s also known). Did I like it? No, not really. Was it bad? Yes, pretty. Was it completely awful? No, it wasn’t. Let’s see now.

Written and directed by Marko Mäkilaakso, War of the Dead is a story set in WW2, 1941. A team of US and Finnish soldiers are en route to destroy a Soviet bunker somewhere in Karelia. What most of them don’t know is that the Russians are carrying on with some zombie/undead super soldier experiments they stole from the Nazis. Before long most of the soldiers are dead and there’s some more shooting and the movie ends.

That, dear readers, is one of the things that’s wrong with WotD. The above summary is a pretty accurate one of the film’s plot. As you can see, there isn’t very much of it. You’d think that with Finns, Americans, Nazis, Soviets and zombies running around in hidden underground bunkers, you’d end up with a wonderfully crazy movie, but you don’t. While I’m at it, let’s see some of the other things that are wrong with the movie:

The zombies don’t know whether they’re birds or fish. They are a bit bitey, but also tend to just punch people. While it’s established that they’re undead, they’re more like the soldiers in Dead Snow than zombies as such.

The movie’s pacing is terrible, there’s no way of getting around it. There’s pointless action and a lot of it. Come to think of it, a fair few scenes, in which you expect some plot development to happen, are interrupted by random zombie attacks…

…and since the plot doesn’t develop, neither do the characters. Of the three major characters, there’s basically one with a personality. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a zombie movie lives or dies depending on its characters, and in this case WotD dies a horrible, horrible death.

The dialogue is stilted, cliché-ridden and definitely not helped by the English used. At times the movie’s dialogue reads like a parody, it’s so bad. Corny one-liners are the order of the day – only you don’t know whether they’re supposed to be funny or serious.

If this sounds like I’m piling a lot on the film, it’s true. During the first 25 minutes of War of the Dead I was seriously considering walking out of the theatre. In the movie’s defense it needs to be said that it gets better towards the end. The movie also has a very good cast, even if they are mostly wasted due to the lacking plot and terrible dialogue. As a Finn it was sad to see such excellent young Finnish actors as Samuli Vauramo and Mikko Leppilampi being cut off from most of their potential. They do their best with what they’re given, so kudos to them for that.

Another area in which the film excels is the visuals. It’s a lot of eye candy, and the movie looks a lot better than the budget of less than € 1 000 000 suggests. Some of this is ruined by shoddy camera directing in the action scenes in particular, but the film looks very nice nonetheless. If only looks could carry a film!

Overall verdict: War of the Dead sadly isn’t a very good film. Director Marko Mäkilaakso not only concocts an ill-fitting mixture of different, clichéd elements, but wastes a bunch of good Finnish acting talent while doing it. While the movie looks nice and gets better towards the end, the first hour or so is so rife with plot incoherensies, awful dialogue and awkward pacing, that you’ll be fighting your own personal war to get through it. For me the movie was a definite disappointment, but there’s probably a personal element involved, this being a Finnish movie and all. If you go in without any high expectations, this one might offer you some good WW2 action/horror fun.

WotD is available on dvd at, complete with a cover that seems to portray a different film altogether.


Wait, what?

April 12, 2012

I honestly thought I’d seen pretty much everything when it comes to the zombie genre. It seems I was wrong. Here is an offering from the land of the rising sun eyebrows that will leave you dumbfounded.

It’s rare for me to be at a loss for words.



March 1, 2012

I try to avoid hyping (apart from some zombie flicks) but I believe I speak for a whole lot of Alien franchise fanboys, when I say Prometheus by Ridley Scott is one of the most hotly anticipated movies coming out in 2012. Of course, the big question hanging over the movie is “Is it an Alien prequel?”

Ridley Scott has been both denying and admitting it  – saying that Prometheus is a new story, set in a new world. The following from Wikipedia:

In February 2011, Scott maintained that the film was not an Alien prequel, but confirmed in December 2011, that the Space Jockey was still an aspect of the plot. [Actor Michael] Fassbender stated the film would feature elements of Alien, saying “Prometheus is absolutely connected to Alien… There’s a definite connecting vein.” In June 2011, [writer Damon] Lindelof stated that he concurred with Scott’s belief that the Alien creature had been “diluted” by the exposure it had received since Alien and did not want the film to be “burdened by all the tropes of that franchise with Facehuggers and Chestbursters”. Lindelof stated that the film takes place in the same universe as Alien, but is not a story about the events leading into that film, saying “a true prequel should essentially proceed [sic] the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters, have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world.”

In July 2011, Scott stated “by the end of the third act you start to realize there’s a DNA of the very first Alien, but none of the subsequent [films]” and called it “pretty organic to the process and to [Alien]”, but maintained a distinction between the two films, saying “we go back, we don’t go forward.” In a February 2012, interview, Lindelof described the film as a hybrid in tone between Alien and Blade Runner, pushing a philosophical idea alongside action.

To support the above, a new viral advertising video just recently popped up, showing one Peter Weyland from Weyland Industries delivering a speech in TED 2023.

What’s that got to do with Alien? The big bad corporation in AlienAliens and Alien³? It’s called Weyland-Yutani. I’ll let you compare the company logos:

To further underline the connection between the films, here are their respective trailers:

So, Alien meets Blade Runner? Count me in.


The best zombie movie scene there is

January 12, 2012

There are some mighty fine zombie movies out there. There are lots of great scenes in them, too. Funny scenes, scary scenes, touching scenes. However, there is one scene for me, that will always stand head and shoulders above the rest: the Day of the Dead opening one.

It’s a very, very simple scene: a helicopter with four survivors lands in a deserted city, looking for survivors. Two of them run outside while a third one operates the helicopter radio, calling for any possible survivors. Outside, a military man calls desperately into a bullhorn: “Hello! Hello! Is anyone there? Hello!” You can see from his face and hear from his voice that he’s near a breaking point.

We are shown shots of a deserted city. There’s an alligator at a bank’s doorway. Palm leaves, abandoned cars and newspapers (with the classic “The Dead Walk!” headline) litter the street. A wind whips dollar bills around.

Slowly the survivors’ calls are answered, as zombies start to shuffle from inside and between the buildings. A few at first, then more and more. The survivors flee to their helicopter as the street fills with the walking dead.

And that’s it. Simple, elegant, effective and amazingly bleak. This five minute clip manages to convey the horror of a zombie apocalypse better than many full movies on the subject. It’s not the zombies that are the horrific thing. Sure, they are bloodthirsty monsters, but that’s not it. The horror stems from the emptiness.

“Hello! Hello! Is anyone there? Hello!”

There isn’t. It’s a bright sunny day, it’s a decent sized city, they’re calling into a bullhorn in the middle of the main street, and yet there is no-one answering. The abandoned paper money lets the viewer know there hasn’t been anyone for some time. Never mind the buildings or the cars, the loose money is the best indicator. The palm leaves and the alligator suggest that nature is slowly taking the city over and it’s falling into ruin – an entire city. Its new occupants don’t care anymore. The sheer desperation of the survivor’s calls bleeds through heavily. He’s hoping for someone to answer, but there’s just a faint echo.

If ever there was a zombie movie scene to burn itself into your mind and epitomise the genre, it’s this one. Forget the eviscerations or the scares, this is truly terrifying. It sets the mood for the rest of the film. Day of the Dead is probably the most depressing zombie movie I know. While many zombie movies suggest that there are isolated pockets of survivors all over the world, weathering the crisis, Day does away with this idea. No such respite can be found.

When I was a kid, I used to be very anxious about going to bed at night. There was a feeling of loneliness as the world quieted down, as if there was no-one around. I got rid of that anxiety by reading a children’s book detailing what’s going on in the world while you sleep. I realised that I wasn’t alone: there were mailmen going around, plenty of people at the airport, cleaners, truck drivers, partygoers and parents kept up by babies. The opening scene from Day of the Dead triggers some of the remnants of this childhood anxiety. The survivors truly are alone in the world, there’s no safe idea of others to cling to.

This might explain my fascination with the zombie genre. For me it’s not really about the zombies, but about loneliness. Out of Romero’s original trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead), Day has often been seen as the weakest link. There is some reliance on gore effects and a couple of truly repulsive characters. There is the idea of an intelligent zombie, found near-heretical by some. These aspects should be overlooked, however. Day is a movie about loneliness, desperation and the last moments of the human race.

After we’re gone, the dead have their day.

This is a guest editorial that I wrote for the new service It’s a service providing legal, licensed streaming movie and TV content for free – including Day of the Dead. I definitely suggest you check out their site – see especially the section “Chaos”, as there are some nice movies on offer.


The last upcoming zombie goodness of 2011

December 30, 2011

The year is ticking towards its inevitable end, but there’s still time for one more post of zombie movie news. All of these are set to come out in 2012, so unless those Mayan bastards were right, we’re in for a few treats.

Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Not another NotLD re-hash – what’s it this time? 4D?” At least that’s what I was thinking. What the producers had to say (via Dread Central) changed my mind a bit for the positive:

Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is aiming to serve as an entertaining companion piece to the original film rather than attempting to do the impossible and improve on it. This project is being produced by a group of filmmakers who are genuine fans of the horror genre. We have fresh ideas for how to revitalise the zombie sub-genre and have created a story that combines modern elements with the classic premise. We are sure genre fans will be happy to see a modern horror film which focuses on genuine suspense and tension, utilises practical FX rather than CGI, and provides characters that the audience will actually care about.

Of course that’s what they always say.  The trailer looks very nice, though, so I remain optimistic about this project.

[REC]³ Génesis

[REC] is one of my all-time favourite zombie movies. [REC]² was okay-ish, though poor in some parts. Now there’s [REC]³ on the way (set to premier in Spain March 30, 2012), and it’s looking tasty indeed. I’ll just let the trailer speak for itself.

Zombie Dawn

This Chilean low-budget venture has actually been doing the festival circuit since 2009. It’s really been travelling under the radar, as I only recently ran into it via a friend’s tip. The movie centers on a group of mercenaries entering a quarantine zone to investigate the roots of the whole catastrophe. I have a strong feeling that things don’t go quite as planned. I’ve always been a sucker for these military-squad-vs-monster-of-choice (like Predator, Aliens, Dog Soldiers or Outpost), so I’m looking forward to this one. For more information, see the film’s official site.

The Upcoming zombie goodness series will of course continue in 2012.


The Dead – a review

December 13, 2011

I’ve been waiting for this movie a long, long time. It has popped up on Dawn of the Lead several times, first almost two years back on February 6 2010, and I’ve been following its progress closely. Now I’ve finally seen it, and for once it’s great to see a zombie movie actually live up to my expectations.

The Dead, by brothers Howard & Jonathan Ford, tells the story of two men. One (played by Rob Freeman) is an American Air Force engineer, who is the sole survivor when an evacuation plane crashes off the coast of Sierra Leone (I believe). The other one (played by Prince David Oseia) is a local soldier who has lost his son in the chaos of a zombie catastrophe. The movie follows these two men, as one tries to find a way out of the country while the other tries to find his son.

This movie does a lot of things right. Where do I begin? First of all, it’s a return to the roots of zombie horror. The zombies in the movie aren’t the type that jumps around and screams using that “generic monster scream” sound effect that’s used in pretty much every low-budget movie nowadays. Instead these are the zombies of Romero and Fulci: not fast, not smart, but persistent, inhuman and ever present. This is something The Dead does very well. The zombies are scary in a very profound manner, as they are simply automatons craving human flesh. They walk around slowly with a vacant look in their eyes, and when they manage to catch someone, they chew their food thoughtfully. This is something that makes them really unsettling. By stripping their monsters of overt monstrosity (wild aggression, screaming, frenzied speed), the Ford brothers have made their zombies something more than scary. They’re at the same time terrifying and sad – former humans stripped of all humanity. Their terror is increased by the fact that they are everywhere. Whenever there’s noise, you can be sure that in a few moments a zombie or two will silently wander in. This is in my opinion a cornerstone of zombie horror that has been lost in the past years. The zombies in The Dead aren’t scary because they run up to you and rip your throat out. Instead they are scary, because their steady lumbering makes it perfectly clear that there will be no rest or respite to anyone trying to avoid them. It might take them a good long while, but eventually you will tire and they will find you.

This leads me to another of the film’s strong points. The Dead is bleak. Not rub-it-in-your-face-go-cry-emo-kid-teen-angst bleak, mind you. There aren’t witty one-liners, nor comedy zombies going up escalators, just the dead everywhere, abandoned villages and hopeless survivors. The parallels between contemporary developing Africa are obvious. It’s apparent that even without the zombies, the people aren’t living a luxury life and the soldiers are used to putting their AK-47’s to use. For the most part, the movie doesn’t luckily overdo this. There are warm moments there of hope, friendship and community. These aren’t too sappy and Hollywood, so they fit the tone of the movie. Simply put, The Dead is a zombie movie for grown-ups.

The trend is continued in the down-to-earth setting. No massive explosions, high-tech weaponry or things like that. Most of the movie features two men, a few guns and a rusty, stalling pickup truck. The moviemakers have relied on the sights of Africa for their visuals, and that is an excellent choice. Shot on location in Burkina Faso and GhanaThe Dead is easily one of the most beautiful zombie films I’ve ever seen. A lot of the film happens during sunny daytime, and the beautiful vistas of Africa get a lot of screen time. In addition to eye candy, this really changes the tone of the film. Most zombie movies are set in cramped urban environments, producing a sense of claustrophobia. In The Dead, there is lots and lots of space, yet you can almost always see a zombie somewhere, walking along. Again, this enhances the zombies’ effectiveness – you can simply walk around them, but they will follow. The directors have also wonderfully conveyed the oppressing heat and bright sun of the setting. The cast is dusty and sweaty throughout the film, and the cinematography is impressive.

I really liked the movie’s pacing, but this has divided opinions somewhat. The Dead is quite slow. It takes its time, and is largely a road movie, a story of travelling. At times the movie might feel like it slows down too much. For me, it’s a much needed departure from contemporary hectic zombie films and allows the viewer to enjoy the sights and sounds (or rather, silence) of the setting. If I’m allowed to be poetic for a moment, I’ll say the movie leaves you time to think about what’s happening, where it’s set and contrast it with reality.

There aren’t many flaws in the movie. The pacing mentioned before might make the movie seem boring to some, but that’s a matter of taste. There’s also some rather heavy handed social commentary of the “I don’t understand you white people” kind, but there’s not a lot of it. One of the movie’s potentially very interesting storylines is skipped over very lightly, which was a bit of a letdown as it was a very interesting one. The characters could’ve used just a little bit more depth, even if they are not cardboard cut-outs by any means. These are, however, small things compared to the film’s overall quality.

Overall verdict: The Dead is one of the best zombie movies I have ever seen. It’s thought-provoking, adult and genuinely scary. The setting is brilliant and really makes the movie stand out from its contemporaries. This is what zombie movies can be at their best.

You can get the movie on dvd from and other stores. Be sure to check out the movie’s official site as well.



Zombie goodness both past and upcoming

December 11, 2011

It’s time for another look at zombies on film. I haven’t done these in a while, so pardon me for showcasing some that are already out there.

Zombie Massacre has a nice name to it. It’s a new movie from the makers of the zombie film Eaters, which was rubbish – it was actually the first time I fell asleep watching a zombie flick. The trailer seems very stylish, though, so maybe there is promise in this one.

Nazi Zombies: I Think We’re Alone Now is a fun short homage to Call of Duty’s nazi zombie part, featuring four WW2 soldiers from different nations fighting nazi zombies in slow motion. Yes. It’s included in its 2½ minute entirety below.

Zombies: A Living History is a pretty interesting History channel documentary on the zombie phenomenon, exploring the history of the zombie and the possibility of real-life zombies amongst other things. It features zombie pop culture experts, such as Max Brooks and Jonathan Maberry. There’s a trailer embedded below. I’ve no idea how you can get your hands on it commercially, but you can watch it on Tube+ and the like.

Exit Humanity is something of a rarity – a period zombie piece set ten years after the American Civil War. It looks pretty tasty in the trailer, and has been doing the festival rounds lately. For more info check out the trailer below as well as the movie’s official site.

I Survived a Zombie Holocaust looks to add to a small number of zombie comedies. This NZ film promises to be a fun story of actual zombies invading the set of a zombie movie in the making. The trailer shows great promise, so let’s hope they can pull it off. The movie is due out in 2012.

There you go, plenty of new(ish) stuff to feast on!



Zombie in a Penguin Suit – a review

October 21, 2011

Zombie in a Penguin Suit - Design by Tyler Littwin of Blake Ink United

More and more I’m starting to think that with the mass of zombie movies that have come out in recent years, short films are establishing themselves as the format. As I’ve said again and again, few zombie movies have enough of a plot to carry them through an hour and a half, let alone two. They often suffer from either a lack or an abundance of material: 1½ hours about a single person or a small group is often too much, yet it’s also far too little to chronicle the apocalypse in detail. Luckily we have short films, that often manage to combine these two nicely.

As you might have guessed, Zombie in a Penguin Suit by Chris Russell tells the story of, well, a zombie in a penguin suit. A movie similar in look and feel to shoestring-budget zombie movie Colin (see here for the IMDb details), it’s a quiet, melancholy story of a lone zombie’s trudge through a zombie catastrophe. We see glimpses here and there of happenings, with several traditional zombie movie set pieces. The main character (played by Michael Wetherbee) does what every zombie does, staggering along and occasionally eating someone, while at times being harrassed by survivors.

There are several things that make this seven minute short memorable. The first one is of course the main character. The zombie-in-unusual-clothes is a common trope in the genre, I believe started by Romero with Dawn of the Dead‘s Hare Krishna zombie and the rest. The sheer absurdity of the penguin suit is brilliant, and it makes for a great contrast both visually and mentally. The bright black & white costume with the orange beak really jumps out from the screen, making the main character the focal point pretty much every time he’s on screen. The mental contrast is an even more effective one. Penguins are many things: cute, funny, smart, definitely not homicidal. There is a lovely mix of absurd comedy and shock in the way the cutesy zombie attacks its victims.

On a deeper level, the movie is actually quite touching. Through the originally comic character of a zombie dressed in a penguin suit the viewers are given a glimpse of the inherent sadness of zombies. While recent movies in which zombies are portrayed as running and jumping have presented zombies as feral predators, they’ve lost the whole touching side of things. For me it’s the real sadness and horror inherent in zombies – a human being reduced to a mindless automaton, left to wander the world with no purpose, only to die eventually. Zombie in a Penguin Suit brings this theme up wonderfully. There’s another contrast, one of feeling, here, between the frantic survivors and feeding zombies, and the solitary quiet ambulation of a lone zombie. There are some beautiful shots in the film, and the viewer is given ample time to just watch the main character go. The soundtrack is a lovely composition as well and it really adds to the whole.

Overall verdict: A suprisingly touching, quiet story of a lone zombie’s existence. You could spend seven minutes of your life far worse. One of the best new zombie films I’ve seen in a while, and yet another example of zombie short film excellence.

Watch the film below, and visit the filmmakers’ official site.


Enough with the braaaaains!

September 30, 2011

I’ve been busy with a lot of other stuff, so DotL has been on the back burner lately. As pretty much all my miniature projects have been on hold for a while, I’ve been posting mostly about zombies, and this post’s no different. It’s also one of my few and far between editorials, this one a bit more rant-ish than usual. It’s about a pet peeve of mine, that I’ve no doubt mentioned before:

Enough with the braaaaaaains!

No, seriously. I’m sick and tired of the enduring connection between zombies and the eating of the human brain. This is what I’m talking about:


Why does this bug me? Because the whole zombies/brains thing stems from Return of the Living Dead. While a fun film, it’s not a real zombie “classic” if the term can be used in this context. Let’s take a look at some of the seminal works of zombie film:

Romero’s original trilogy. Night, Dawn and Day, what do the zombies eat? Flesh.

Fulci’s Zombi films. What do the zombies eat? Flesh.

Resident Evil franchise. What do the zombies eat? Flesh.

Dawn of the Dead remake. Flesh.

Shaun of the Dead. Flesh.

Zombieland. Flesh.

Braindead/Dead Alive. Flesh.

Pretty much any zombie worth its salt. Flesh.

Return of the Living dead films. Braaaaains.

Do we see a pattern emerging?

In fact, I’ve kind of developed a personal habit of immediately looking down on any work of zombie pop culture, that starts heading down the braaaaains road. To me, it speaks to me of superficial knowledge of the genre. Sounds silly? Might be. Then again, imagine the case that in 20 or so years, whenever you mention “vampire”, people start talking about glitter (as per the Twilight novels). Vampire books start focusing on the whole glitter aspect. Eventually, the glitter thing becomes the defining feature of vampires in general. Horrible.

While this might sound and even be peevish, there is a larger issue underlying this. Zombies have been the early 21st century’s pop culture hit, and that has led to movies, books and comics coming out of the woodwork. It’s inevitable that a lot of that material will be of subpar quality, mainly cheap cashing-in on the phenomenon. When you try to find the works worthy of your interest, it’s not a bad idea to see if the creator seems to have some grasp of the history and nuances of the genre. If the focus is on braaaaaains, there’s a good chance that it’s simply a case of riding the hit wave. The atrocious Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a perfect, if dire, example. The opening line reads

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

And that should’ve been reason enough to skip it altogether. I eventually gave up about half-way through.

There is a lot to the cultural niche that is zombies (see these two for example). While it’s strongly anchored in gory and often trashy entertainment, there are also more interesting, subtle undercurrents: the primal human fear of death, alienation and loss of individuality, the mirroring of whatever is currently the top unknown fear (radiation, pandemics, terrorism) and the questions of whether humanity is capable of cooperation and worthy of survival to mention a few. To skip all this and go with braaaaaaains displays a major lack of said.

The next time you’re thinking of picking up any work on zombies, whether it’s a film, a book or a comic,  see if it passes the ODotLOZDH (Official Dawn of the Lead ordained Zombie Dietary Habit) test: flesh=good, braaaaaains=bad.

You’ll thank me for it.

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