I’m hopelessly old fashioned and cheap. I don’t have DVR. I don’t have On Demand anything. So, when people said, “I bet you are going to have fun this weekend when AMC runs both seasons of THE WALKING DEAD,” I moaned at them like a zombie. I had to work. All I caught was a few episodes each evening after I got home.
I did catch the highlights. I saw TALKING DEAD, which was stupid except for the two minute Season III preview they cruelly dangled in front of us. Of course I entered the sweepstakes in which the prize is a stagger-on role as a zombie. I’ve entered all of those. Have I won a role? No, I have not. I bet you haven’t, either.
Then, the big enchilada. What we’d all been waiting for. Sort of. I still have no understanding of why AMC showed us the pilot episode of THE WALKING DEAD, a very well-done piece of television, in black and white. It looked nearly as shitty as I thought it would. Old black and white movies looked good because they were purposefully shot to be viewed in black and white. Suck the color out of something with a computer, and it looks sucked and that’s about it.
Why did AMC give us the questionable treat of THE WALKING DEAD in black and white? I don’t really know. I suppose it’s an homage to the mainly black and white graphic novels that inspired the series. Maybe there was a salute in there to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, George Romero’s black and white film. But I wish that what happened to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in the 1970s had served as a little cautionary tale to the minds behind THE WALKING DEAD.
There was a time, kiddies, when no television shows were in color. All shows were in black and white. Although movies had been in color for a long time, television was slow to follow. As late as the 1980s, I knew people who still had old black and white television sets in their homes. They were losers. Winners had nice new color television sets.
During the 1970s, American lust for progress–and the American lust to make people feel like shit if they didn’t have nice new color television sets–led to a rejection of all movies and television shows that were shot in black and white. Screw black and white. Screw THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Screw PSYCHO. That stuff was black and white trash. We wanted nice new modern entertainment. Except, my god, the 1970s wasn’t really a decade of great movies or television shows. So, Ted Turner, a rich Atlanta man who bugged us for quite a while by giving his opinions and we kept saying, “Who the hell is this guy, again?” decided that it was sad that good movies weren’t being seen. Ted invented “colorization” which was pooping really ass-looking color into old movies with some computer program that made Microsoft Paint look like LucusFilm’s CGI department.
Somewhere in all of this madness, some idiots colorized NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. That badly colored version became the only version of the film you could find for years. It’s so horribly stupid looking that I stopped watching NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, even on Halloween. (Well, I was also out getting drunk. That also stopped me from watching the movie.) BUT, and I can’t stress this enough, I WOULDN’T HAVE WATCHED IT IF I HAD BEEN HOME AND SOBER BECAUSE IT LOOKED LIKE ASS. Look at it.
THE WALKING DEAD in black and white didn’t look totally like ass. It just looked kind of like a pancreas, which is an organ I feel that most of us don’t understand any more than we understand why we watched THE WALKING DEAD in anemic black and white tonight.
While we are all waiting for October to arrive, be sure to check out my ebook. Zombies Take Manhattan! It’s a collection of short stories about zombies in Manhattan. It’s not THE WALKING DEAD, but we don’t have THE WALKING DEAD, now do we? Not for months and months. So buy my book!
So my friend and fellow writer, Marina Bridges, and I, being ladies of a certain age, love to gross each other out. (What? You thought we shared refined discourse about classical music and tea cakes? Sorry to disappoint.) Since we have so much fun dishing on the horror genre, I thought we’d share.
MARINA: Remember helicopter zombie from Dawn of the Dead?
ME: I remember Jay Leno zombie. Was he in that one?
(From across the country I could sense her rolling her eyes. I like zombie movies. She is an aficionado. A connoisseur of grue and gore and shambling dead.)
MARINA: There are (again with the eye roll) TWO Dawn of the Dead movies.
Here is the first with helicopter guy:
ME: Ooh, that’s pretty gross. Tell me more.
MARINA: They came to get Barbara in 1968, but in 1978, George A. Romero returned zombies to the big screen in a big way with Dawn Of The Dead. Unbelievably, there are people on this planet (–>Jaye) who don’t know that Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn Of The Dead, while not exactly a re-make, was heavily inspired by the 1978 Romero classic. George’s second film in his zombie trilogy picks up with the zombie apocalypse in its last gasp. There aren’t many people left, and the people we take up with are looking for a good place to land their helicopter. They eventually end up at a shopping mall, and the rest is zombie history.
ME: That’s why I never go to shopping malls. Zombies.
MARINA: But, just like the rest of us, before these characters go to the mall, they need to get some gas. You have to remember here that the 1968 film, Night Of The Living Dead, had been a real shocker.
ME: Uh yeah, I still have a hard time watching it. Gives me night–did she just call me a little sissy prissy missy?
MARINA: People ate people onscreen, and that really bothered a lot of people in 1968. Black and white, shot on a shoestring budget with what was actually minimal gore, Night of The Living Dead took a back seat at the drive-in movie when Dawn Of The Dead roared onto the screen ten years later with something like ten times the budget and a million times the Tom Savini buckets of fake blood and guts. Plus, it was in color.
ME: Wait, this is coming back to me. I did see that movie! But I might have been at a drive-in theater and that would have meant the back seat, and my date… Never mind. Go on.
MARINA: There are a lot of iconic gore moments in the original Dawn Of The Dead, but the one most people (by most people, I mean me) remember is Helicopter Zombie. It’s the ultimate accidental death, walking into an unseen, whirling helicopter blade, and this zombie accidentally kills himself AFTER HE’S ALREADY DEAD. It was the first time a lot of us got to laugh at something truly horrible. I’ll never forget that feeling of liberation.
ME: I wish I could remember the name of my date. That night is definitely coming back to me.
In honor of his contribution to horror history, Marina presents
Where Are They Now: Helicopter Zombie Capitalizing On His Contribution To Horror History!
Me: Wow, Jim Krut, the helicopter zombie looks pretty darned good for an undead guy. He even makes live appearances. Now I have to go find the 1978 version of the movie (actually watch it this time). In the meantime, I recently finished reading a zombie novel.
Zombie Bible: What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, by Stant Litore.
One of the more unusual takes on a zombie novel I have read. It’s the Romans versus the Christians versus the zombies. Way high on the creepy scale.
If you’re in the mood for a quick bite, so to speak, you can check out Marina’s funny and very gross short story over on Amazon. Only .99 cents.