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!
When is a zombie not a zombie? Dictionary.com (the ONLY dictionary I use, mainly because it’s easier than using a real dictionary) defines “zombie” for us:
1. (in voodoo):
a. the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose;
b. the supernatural force itself.
a. a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton;
b. an eccentric or peculiar person.
3. a snake god worshiped in West Indian and Brazilian religious practices of African origin.
4. a tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.
5. Canadian Slang: an army conscript assigned to home defense during World War II.
1810–20; apparently < Kongo or Kimbundu nzambi god
None of those definitions are what most of us think when we think “zombie.” I know what I think when I think “zombie.” I think of a decaying corpse that relentlessly pursues the living in order to feast on their flesh. We can all thank George A. Romero, for that. Night of the Living Dead redefined zombies.
For the most part, the zombies of today in movies, television, books, graphic novels, and video games are flesh eating, shambling corpses, except for when they don’t shamble and they run really fast. Fast or slow, they crave flesh. They are fuckers.
Which brings me to my point. I was reading a horror story this morning, and I found myself hoping that the monster in the story would be a zombie, but not a typical zombie. The monster in the story ended up being a messy conglomeration of things and I found myself skimming through the end of the story, annoyed that I’d invested my time only to discover a possum/crab thing that thinks. The value in the possum/crab was that it made me think of a couple of rocking books that feature zombies that weren’t really zombies.
The first one that comes to mind is Ronald Malfi’s Snow. I stumbled on this in Walmart, of all places, several years ago. It’s a great, suspenseful read. It’s a zombie story that isn’t a zombie story.
Second highly recommended zombie-type book is Simon Clark’s Blood Crazy. Rare and often expensive, you can get a decently priced used paperback copy from book stores that advertise on Amazon.com, or you can do what I did, which is bug the publisher to make it available for Kindle.
If anyone else has a similar recommendation, I’d love to hear it!
If you are interested in zombies that ARE zombies, check out my new ebook, Zombies Take Manhattan!
Children make me nervous. I won’t go so far as to say they frighten me. It’s more the same way cats make me nervous. It’s the way they look at you and you know they’re thinking, “Damn it, if only I could read life insurance policies and be sure I’m listed as a beneficiary. Then that old broad is toast.”
With that kind of thought always running around in the back of my head, it’s no surprise that children in horror movies scare the piss out of me.
So of course Marina’s zombie report this week is about one of the scariest characters ever.
MARINA: Last week, our Zombie Report did a Where Are They Now on Helicopter Zombie from Dawn Of The Dead. This week, we (She! Marina decided so I had to look at that movie clip!) decided to look up Trowel Girl from the classic that started it all, Night Of The Living Dead. It can be argued that there had been frightening children in movies before 1968. The glow-eyed smarty pants in Village Of The Damned and Patty McCormack’s mean-ass little Bad Seed come to mind. But Kyra Schon paddled them all and sent them to bed when, as zombiefied Karen Cooper, she ate her own father’s arm (he was her real father in real life) and then stabbed her on-screen mother to death with a garden trowel in the basement of the most famous Pennsylvania farm house that ever was.
Although Jaye and I both fear children in general (I didn’t say fear, exactly, I said they make me nervous, but only because I’m smart enough to realize what they are probably up to) I can’t help but feel sorry for show business children, especially horror movie children. Of course they agree to do whatever they’re asked, and I’m sure that most of them agree cheerfully. Children don’t have the life experience to foresee a lifetime of notoriety and nightmares. Kyra seems to have come to well-adjusted terms with her famous childhood role. She makes appearances at horror conventions, she is a member of the zombie movie community, and she has some cool dolls of Karen Cooper to sell. She also makes cute greeting cards that star her rescue dog, Spiffy.
Move over, Sophia from The Walking Dead. All you ever did was walk out of a barn. Trowel Girl killed then and she kills now.
ME: Thank you, Marina. (Can I call you at two in the morning when I’m having nightmares because I watched that clip?)
To further my education in zombie fiction, Marina urged me to try another of her found treasures. The Zombie Wilson Diaries, by Timothy W. Long. Fortunately, there are no creepy, spooky children in it. There are a lot of very funny (if you considered sick and twisted to be funny) illustrations and gross scenes. It’s a pretty funny take on zombies. For the recommendation, I will forgive Marina for making me watching Trowel Girl do her nasty, scary thing.
And if you want to try Marina’s brand of zombie fiction, you can find her short story, Wheel of Wonder on Amazon.