Alt.Weekly Special Issue of the Dead

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Believe it or not, some guys find the assertive demeanor and cat-like reflexes of the Fast Zombie a big turn-off.

The strong Amazon performance of Los Angeles-based writer Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gives the LA Weekly an excuse to put together an admirable suite of undead material. Gendy Alimurung's cover story is a rambling search for the Big Meaning of It All among eggheads, authorities, state and federal health agencies, and participants in the SoCal Zombiewalk. The film critic Scott Foundas has a good but potted history of the genre, and Steven Mikulan does a strong memoir of a childhood spent trying to keep the walking homeless at bay. Also included: a gallery featuring some second-place-movie-capital-worthy special makeup effects from local walkers.

There's plenty of the intellectual hooey you've come to know and love in these types of appreciations. Alimurung keeps insisting there's some kind of recessionary economic anxiety acting as a stimulus to the current fad — which raises the question of why zombies have also been beloved in the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, the beginning of this decade, and at all other times. It's also clearly false to say that "Cerebral, sexy vampires with their decadent lifestyles are out for the moment." Foundas retcons U.S. history to inform us that Day of the Dead was a depiction of the "potentially radioactive fallout of Ronald Reagan's Morning in America." Every success is in some way a product of its time, but I don't think you need any zeitgeisty explanation for the popularity of Grahame-Smith's book — which apparently changes only about 15% of Jane Austen's original. (I'm encouraged to see how much bang a writer with a clever concept can get for his buck, but I now understand Cory Doctorow's objection that the book contains "too much Austen and not enough zombies.")

This stuff goes with the territory, however, and there's plenty here even for peaceful, non-flesh-eating zombies who just want companionship.

NEXT: $17 Billion in Budget Cuts: A Lot of Money; $18 Billion in Earmarks: Not a Lot

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  1. What does happen if a zombie bites a werewolf that’s biting a vampire?

  2. They all become Fundead!

  3. I’m sorry, that last joke was monstrous.

  4. Bite me!

  5. Many of our readers have found that if you enjoyed Pride & Prejudice, you will also like the underated Green Eyes by Lucuis Shepard.

    Who says that Zombies can’t be cerebral, sexy and live decadent life styles? Only combat boot wearing, alternative weekly commies, that’s all. Described in lush, Victorian prose with just a dab of irony to keep your nose firmly on the up swing, Green Eyes proves the scoffing, smelly people wrong.

  6. Art-P.O.G. | May 16, 2009, 3:21pm | #

    I’m sorry, that last joke was monstrous.

    I want a reFunded.

  7. Is it weird that I find that zombie girls kinda hot?

  8. Kegan | May 16, 2009, 4:14pm | #

    Is it weird that I find that zombie girls kinda hot?

    Oh, no. She is definitely hot. However, given the coagulated blood and everything, she probably smells like she writes for an alternative, lefty weekly. Village Voice exepted, of course. Little known fact, everyone there smells like they bathe in burning essense of opium.

  9. welcome back to HnR, Tim

  10. I really don’t know what is going on with this stuff these days, but this sounds hot:

    This stuff goes with the territory, however, and there’s plenty here even for peaceful, non-flesh-eating zombies who just want companionship.

  11. Oh, no. She is definitely hot. However, given the coagulated blood and everything, she probably smells like she writes for an alternative, lefty weekly. Village Voice exepted, of course. Little known fact, everyone there smells like they bathe in burning essense of opium.

    That might be a downside.

  12. “Alimurung keeps insisting there’s some kind of recessionary economic anxiety acting as a stimulus to the current fad – which raises the question of why zombies have also been beloved in the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, the beginning of this decade, and at all other times.”

    That’s an easy question to answer: Capitalism always produces a certain level of economic anxiety. In a system of winners and losers, zombies represent the losers.

  13. Foundas retcons U.S. history to inform us that Day of the Dead was a depiction of the “potentially radioactive fallout of Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America.”

    Jesus fucking Christ, some people just have to try and appropriate shit for their side, don’t they. Maybe he can watch Martin and tell us how it’s an indictment of capitalistic greed or how Knightriders is an indictment of imperialism.

    Actually, Lefiti, could you give it a try?

  14. Epi,

    Jesus fucking Christ, some people just have to try and appropriate shit for their side, don’t they. Maybe he can watch Martin and tell us how it’s an indictment of capitalistic greed or how Knightriders is an indictment of imperialism.

    All win. Excellent comment.

  15. Free minds and free markets…and zombies?

  16. Free minds and free markets… is just a slogan, you know. Slogans can be useful, but not as substitutes for thought. Freedom is more complex than libertarian progandists either admit or probably realize. Am I as free to travel the world as, say, Bill Gates?

  17. Am I as free to travel the world as, say, Bill Gates?

    Given equal criminal records and travel documents, yes.

  18. How about cash, John? It takes cash to travel the world. You can have just as much freedom to travel the world as you can buy.

  19. How about cash, John? It takes cash to travel the world. You can have just as much freedom to travel the world as you can buy.

    Only you are limiting yourself there. Chose a mode of travel that fits your income, like hopping a freighter instead of a private jet.

  20. And a felon can be as rich as he wants but he still cannot travel to certain places.

  21. Coercive circumstances, John. Both the rich man and the homeless man are “free” to sleep under a bridge, but only the homeless is compelled to do so.

    A poor man is as limited in his ability to travel as a felon.

    I’m not arguing that this reality is bad, but let’s not obscure reality with fanciful notions of freedom. Free markets don’t produce freedom in equal measure for everybody.

  22. John, why are you conversing with the retarded monkey? It just makes him think he’s human, and we don’t want that.

  23. A poor man is as limited in his ability to travel as a felon.

    Blatantly false.

    In have known many people of meager means who travel the world. You just have a lazy mind.

  24. Vile things need to be stopped. Hence my heading up the Missouri Undead and Lycanthropic Liquidation and Eradication Teams, a subset of the Foundation for Undead Collection and Killing International Teams.

    Two to the head makes it dead.

  25. Epi,

    John, why are you conversing with the retarded monkey? It just makes him think he’s human, and we don’t want that.

    Good point. In my defense, I have had a long day of HTML frustration and needed a distraction.

    The 6:14pm comment was my last to that helpless/hapless soul.

  26. Monkeys need love too. Even the retarded ones.

  27. I remember reading an analysis of the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” that waxed that the story was a red-scare allegory of communist infiltration. Seemed to make sense at the time (I was twenty.)

    Years later I read an interview with the writer/director the movie. The interviewer ask him about how the fear of communism influenced the work. The writer was confused. They’d had no grand allegories in mind. They made a movie about evil clones because they had a desperate financial need to make a cheap horror movie but they were to broke to afford makeup or effects for monsters.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a zombie is just a zombie. People like zombie movies because zombies and the apocalyptic you’re-all-your-own setting they come with is genuinely horrifying. You can easily write interesting variations around the basic theme. Financially, zombies are cheap monsters and isolated farm houses are cheap places to film. Cheap, horrifying monsters explains the appeal of zombies for both film makers and their audiences, not tortuous allegories or appeals to zeitgeist.

  28. Years later I read an interview with the writer/director the movie. The interviewer ask him about how the fear of communism influenced the work. The writer was confused. They’d had no grand allegories in mind. They made a movie about evil clones because they had a desperate financial need to make a cheap horror movie but they were to broke to afford makeup or effects for monsters.

    I have heard the phrase “writers are the last people who know what their work is about” more than once. The people saying that sounded like they wanted every work to mean what they wanted it to mean without interference from the creator of the work.

  29. “Even the retarded ones.”

    You mean ESPECIALLY the retarded ones (I’m too lazy or stupid to learn this html stuff, so my caps mean italics and not shouting, OK?)

    In a last ditch effort of the day to turn the thread to Star Trek, I think the Borg are just a way to incorporate the zombie genre into Star Trek (I’m serious here). They walk in a slow, plodding, methodical manner; they act as a mass; and if they “get you” you “become one of them.”

    I get it that they are communists/totalitarians and such, but their function in driving the action is exactly that of zombies…

  30. Monkeys need love too. Even the retarded ones.

    Retarded monkeys need the most love!

  31. The Borg were collectivist silly. Zombies are too opportunist to worry about the group. They just want brains.

  32. Oh Shannon, I SO beat you to the punchline ;)! But hey, we are in agreement for the first time in many a moon, so I won’t belabor the point…

  33. I get it that they are communists/totalitarians and such, but their function in driving the action is exactly that of zombies…

    This is partially valid. As hmm points out and you admit, there is the collectivist aspect that zombies do not have. However, they serve (at times) the slow zombie purpose, which is to create the “you can stay ahead of them as long as you don’t fuck up at all” dread. Anyone who stumbles or doesn’t pay attention gets taken. This is the primary fear in slow zombie movies.

    Fast zombies are totally different; their purpose is to be overwhelming, much like the aliens in Aliens or even the “bugs” in Starship Troopers (the movie). Jeebus help you if one of them (fast zombie, alien, bug) gets in an enclosed space with you, because you’re fucked.

  34. “John, why are you conversing with the retarded monkey?”

    I’ve not posted anything

    “How about cash, John? It takes cash to travel the world”

    you can work teaching english in any non-english speaking country after doing a 1 month course,
    (actually I’ve got mates who did it in India where they technically speak English)
    Its an Ok lifestyle
    usually well above the minimum wage
    loads of exotic women to shag

    On the article wasn’t “28 days later” the most successful zombie flick of the last twenty years? Very much pre-global-economic-fuck-up

  35. Using Starship Troopers in any argument is automatic failure.

    Jeebus help you if one of them (fast zombie, alien, bug) gets in an enclosed space with you, because you’re fucked.

    Proper CQB techniques and equipment can easily neutralize all three of those threats.

  36. MM, 28 Days Later wasn’t really a zombie movie. They were ostensibly live humans affected by a virus.

  37. Though they were certainly zombie-esque, especially with the proliferation of fast zombies.

  38. Using Starship Troopers in any argument is automatic failure.

    Just because you are incapable of understanding what Verhoeven was trying to do doesn’t invalidate the attack style of the bugs in that movie.

    Proper CQB techniques and equipment can easily neutralize all three of those threats.

    CQB techniques are from the perspective of those storming an enclosure, not defending it. Since in these types of movies, the humans are always defending, CQB techniques are useless.

    MM, 28 Days Later wasn’t really a zombie movie. They were ostensibly live humans affected by a virus.

    It’s lumped into the fast zombie genre with similar films such as REC.

  39. CQB techniques are both offensive and defensive relative to the position your in.(of course). So being offensive or defensive is irrelevant with the proper training.

    It’s possible to understand what Verhoeven was trying to do and still know he failed. Miserably. With chocolate sauce and sprinkles.

  40. To clarify. Most of what you read for CQB will be from a LE stand point and therefore be from the “attackers” point of view. That is only half of the equation. It’s a false assumption to assume that all CQB technique and training is from the “attackers” stand point.

  41. I agree with Epi that
    1. fast zombies, and other super powered-reflexed beings are supposed to create an overwhelming feel to the bad guys
    2. 28 Days Later was, for all intents and purposes, a zombie flick

    Interesting as to 1 it implies, to my drunk ass at least, that in the case of slow moving monsters the audience is induced to feel a “don’t fuck up” emotion (because a fuck up is about all that would allow you to catch them) while in the fast monster type of tale the audience has to expect excellence/luck on the part of the character for their to be any believable survival of said character. In many of type one movies you curse the character (“stupid bitch, not looking where she is running and tripping”) while in the second type you are encouraged to marvel at the ingenuity of the character (“wow, that was smart”).

  42. The Kids in the Hall cover slow moving zombies here.

  43. I think of Roy Baty in Blade Runner as one of the pre-eminent “fast zombies.” Harrison Ford has to make every right move or lose. In fact, this is why I reject the idea that Deckard is a replicant; he has none of the qualities of Roy (he’s weak, slow, prone to mistakes in judgment and reflexes).

    I also feel that way because if he were then who the fuck is the viewer, a human, supposed to identify with? I know, I know, Ridley Scott came out years later and said he meant for him to be a replicant. But a movie, unlike a book, is a collective work. Back then Harrison Ford had some pull and Scott as a director had a lot less than he does now, I read that Ford fought in the original cut to pretty much squash Deckard as a replicant, and I think that was the message of the original cut (a product of Ford, Scott, and others), though of course the later cuts, dominated by Scott, heavily imply Deckard is indeed a replicant…

  44. I mean to say that he does “lose”, and in doing so exhibits his humanity; he is very “human” (he drops his gun for example; he runs up [where there is no escape] rather than down, etc.]).

  45. They only come out at night.

  46. I think of Roy Baty in Blade Runner as one of the pre-eminent “fast zombies.” Harrison Ford has to make every right move or lose.

    Harrison Ford cannot beat Batty (a genius-level physically enhanced combat model) under any circumstance. So Batty isn’t a fast zombie archetype. Fast zombies, like bugs or (the) aliens, are mindless; they are merely a wave of death pouring over people. Like a wave, it’s too powerful to resist, so it must be avoided or rechanneled, or, kept outside an enclosure until another method of escape has been found.

    They only come out at night.

    They mostly come out at night. Mostly.

  47. Maybe not Zombie but generally undead if it was a Voodoo curse, Radiation, Monkey bite, Virus or just a genral desire to eat Will Smith,

    “Shaun of the Dead” was another good pre-global-economic-fuck-up zombie flick
    dunno if it made it over the pond

    but wiki-ing recessions

    1991 Recession
    1992 Braindead, Greatest Zombie flick ever or greatest film ever?

    2001 Recession
    2002 28 Days Later

    2007 Recession
    2007 I am Legend, Worst Zombie flick ever or worst film ever?

    Still tenuous link at best

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  49. “Shaun of the Dead” was another good pre-global-economic-fuck-up zombie flick
    dunno if it made it over the pond

    It’s actually quite popular stateside and was the introduction for most of us Yankees to Simon Pegg.

  50. People love zombies as a metaphor because most people now act like zombies. Buy, buy, buy, then scream resentful hatred at those with more than you have. It’s like someone gave rodents voices.

  51. I think when Ash puts the chainsaw on his stump in Evil Dead 2, it’s a metaphor for the ability of the free market to provide creative solutions to difficult problems. This, however, is contradicted by the behavior of the deadite forces in Army of Darkness, which is a scathing indictment of environmental exploitation in capitalist economies.

  52. Zombies?

    Feets don’t fail me now!

  53. Do u have confidence in yourself? are u hot enough?? if so, come to ___InterRacialChaTs.COm___ to show off to everyone…here u can explore many HOT girls and guys like u….just do it!!!

  54. I’m glad to see Mr. Cavanaugh posting on H&R again.

    MNG,

    Italics tags are simple. Enclose the words you want to italicize in an i /i tag. The i /i must be surrounded by < >. Shift-comma, and shift-period, respectively. Voil?, italics.

    Using Starship Troopers in any argument is automatic failure.

    lol

    Left 4 Dead is awesome zombie massacre action.

  55. Who is this Tim Cavanaugh fellow?

  56. Mormon-think Vampires is an obnoxious subject (anti-thetical, really). When I remind myself why Religion abounds and how once in my wee days I was religious bound, I snap out of that great pourquoi???


  57. It’s lumped into the fast zombie genre with similar films such as REC.

    WHY CAN’T I FIND THIS MOVIE ANYWHERE!?!?! /frustration

    2007 Recession
    2007 I am Legend, Worst Zombie flick ever or worst film ever?

    I Am Legend is not a zombie flick, it is a vampire flick in the sense that 28 Days Later is a vampire flick. So they are not supernatural beings, but inflicted with a virus (at least that’s how it was in the book, I didn’t see the movie so I don’t know how it changed). Incidentally, has anyone seen the Omega Man? Supposedly they made that from the same I Am Legend story (by Richard Matheson, who also wrote What Dreams May Come and that creepy short about a possessed African doll terrorizing a woman’s apartment–the woman was white, I’d hate to think what the analyzers would come up with for that one).

  58. I Am Legend is not a zombie flick, it is a vampire flick in the sense that 28 Days Later is avampire zombie flick.

    Correction.

  59. Hey, Epi, nice Blade Runner analysis.

  60. I Am Legend is not a zombie flick, it is a vampire flick in the sense that 28 Days Later is a zombie flick.

    Actually that is true, and so kudos to that film for doing something original with vampires,
    They have just become synonymous with “sensitive goth/BDSM enthusiast”
    That I think it started with The Hunger, which was an awesome film but now its just dogma

    It’d be cool to see some kind of zombie flick that get’s back to the original voodoo type zombies

    That was a bit more about mind-control so it could do something with a political edge, where the zombies have more of an objective than eating brains

    That’s always cool of course

  61. That was a bit more about mind-control so it could do something with a political edge

    It’d be hard to beat The Manchurian Candidate (original or remake)…but I agree that the old-school zombie flick could do well with some Rob Zombie-type shlock and Papa Shango involved, of course.

  62. Incidentally, has anyone seen the Omega Man?

    The only “vampiric” characteristic they kept for Omega Man was an aversion to daylight. “Mutants” would be a better description for the villains in that movie.

  63. Years later I read an interview with the writer/director the movie. The interviewer ask him about how the fear of communism influenced the work. The writer was confused. They’d had no grand allegories in mind. They made a movie about evil clones because they had a desperate financial need to make a cheap horror movie but they were to broke to afford makeup or effects for monsters.

    Your story would be more convincing, Shannon Love, if there were a writer/director of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Instead, there was a screenwriter (Daniel Mainwaring) and a director (Don Siegel). As both had successful careers preceding Invasion, it’s hard to understand why either one would be in “desperate need to make a cheap horror movie,” and since the movie was based on a novel by Jack Finney, it doesn’t make sense to attribute any of the plot points to a lack of budget for makeup or monsters.

    But good on you for exposing folks who deliver a twisted analysis of a book or movie just to make a point. I bet you hate it when people do that!

  64. I get wasted around town and this is the best you choads can come up with?

    It’d be hard to beat The Manchurian Candidate (original or remake)

    Art, you had me until “remake”. The original is a classic, but the remake is a joke.

    Richard Matheson, who also wrote What Dreams May Come and that creepy short about a possessed African doll terrorizing a woman’s apartment–the woman was white, I’d hate to think what the analyzers would come up with for that one

    “Prey”. Fucking awesome story.

    Do u have confidence in yourself? are u hot enough??

    Yes! Yes I am!

  65. I think you are all ignoring Vin Diesel’s and Towhy’s contribution in the Chronicles of Riddick.

  66. I love the classic Manchurian, the “tea party hallucination scene” is one of my favorites in any movie…

    Baked-I think Omega Man is, for all intents and purposes, a zombie flick, with some afros.

    Let’s give props to Charleton Heston, the man was in some very varied movies. He did the big budget mega-films like Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur but also a great deal of sci-fi classics like Solyent Green, Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, etc.

  67. Considering I Am Legend was written in 1954 (thank you, Wikipedia) I’d make the claim that this is the first case of fast zombies/vampires.

  68. I have always thought that Omega Man contains some hidden quasi-Objectivist elements: the zombies are changed into anti-technology collectivist hippies who hate books and art, and instead of being an everyman Neville is changed into a scientist/doctor/soldier who openly admits his narcissism.

    With regard to the general subject of the thread and the perennial appeal of zombie films, I hate to give her any credit for anything but I think Sontag got it right in her analysis of science fiction films [and I think zombie films are properly understood as sci-fi/action films and not as horror]: they are appealing because they present the viewer with a fantasy of a release from conventional obligations and responsibilities, both practical and moral. Since the problem of survival in these movies always seems pretty easy to the viewer [just avoid doing the stupid-ass things the characters always do], they’re pretty basically a fantasy where all of a sudden everything in the stores is free, everyone the viewer doesn’t like is a fit subject for target practice with an M-16, and every little-boy weekend “let’s build a fort” game becomes translated into real life.

  69. Considering I Am Legend was written in 1954 (thank you, Wikipedia) I’d make the claim that this is the first case of fast zombies/vampires.

    They weren’t fast in the book. At least not the zombiefied ones.

    The ones taking the new medical treatment weren’t zombies in any meaningful way, but were simply a modified human society and the new paradigm for human life on earth. As Neville discovers, to his chagrin.

  70. the remake is a joke.

    Eh…I thought Meryl Streep, Jeffrey Wright, Liev Schreiber and Denzel did a really good job. And I actually liked some of Demme’s mods.

  71. Don’t forget about or trivialize the profound loneliness of Jack Bauer, Federal Zombie, who died during torture and was raised from the dead to endure even more torture, yet escaped to continue doing the bidding of his master, Uncle Sam. Other, lesser zombies shuffle around in the quest for “brains … brains.” But the Federal Zombie is much more spry, and will actually chase down those who possess “intel … intel.”

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