Marina: On the screen and on the page, zombie heads explode. Whatever the weapon of choice may be, zombie heads have to explode. It’s a general rule. First of all, it’s the only way to kill all but the most unconventional types of zombies. Zombies are mindless eating machines, but their brains propel them. Heroes have to put a stop to that if they hope to survive the book or the movie or the video game. Secondly, and most importantly, zombie fans love exploding heads.
Me: Waving a hand here. There are other ways to kill a zombie. A giant snowblower worked pretty good in Larry Correia’s, Monster Hunter Alpha. As much as I love gun porn, exploding zombie heads get kind of boring.
Marina: Before you so rudely interrupted, I was going to say, it doesn’t take long before one destroyed head is just like every other destroyed head. I don’t want to call it desensitization, because that sounds like zombie heads turning to mush is a BAD thing, so I’ll call it ennui. Ennui sets in. Zombie fans find themselves looking for zombie entertainment that is billed as “disturbing.” At this point in the game, the word “disturbing” has come to mean, “Kiddies, lookie over here to see something bad and nasty that you haven’t seen before!” At least that’s what I always hope it means.
Me: Personally, I like humor. S.G. Browne’s, Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, was a hoot, and Timothy Long’s, Zombie-Wilson Diaries cracked me up. I always grow concerned when you start saying “disturbing” and “zombies” because then I’m afraid you’ll bring up something like–
Me: I knew it!
Marina: I was looking for some disturbing entertainment when I ran across a mention of Abed from one of my many Facebook horror friends. I ran over to Amazon and downloaded it for a mere 99 cents.
Me: And told me, so I had to run out and buy it, too.
Marina: Abed is a short story by cute little horror author Elizabeth Massie, who looks like she would drop her homemade pie baking to run screaming from a daddy long legs spider. Don’t be fooled. Abed might make YOUR head explode (in a figurative way, of course).
Me: I once made a joke about zombie porn. Someone told me to Google it. Thinking, no way would anyone write or read or watch zombie porn, I Googled it. I stand corrected. Just sayin’.
Marina: The upcoming short film directed by Ryan Lieske is sure to make a ton of heads explode (also in a figurative way, but we’ll hear the screaming all over the internet).
Marina: Don’t read Abed if you don’t mind exploding heads but do get upset over descriptions of graphic sexual abuse. More importantly, don’t come back here to bitch if you read the story and are offended. We did warn you.
Me: Yes, and I wish someone (pointing at Marina) had warned me.
Now to take my mind off Abed, I am going back to work producing Marina’s upcoming story collection, Zombies Take Manhattan! Which has lots of grue, gore and twisted humor. It’s disturbing in a good way. Want to see the cover? Thanks to the talented N.E. White, it’s pretty cool.
Two-thirds of the employees at my job are fans of the television show The Walking Dead–when it’s in season. We are currently in the off season, which sucks. The show is good common ground. It gives us something neutral and fun to chat about. So, when a new assistant manager came on board at work, I extended the branch of friendship by saying, “Do you watch The Walking Dead?”
She laughed nervously and said, “Uh. No. Ha. No no. No no no. That stuff freaks me out. I saw this movie when I was a kid. It freaked me out. Black-and-white movie.”
“Night of the Living Dead?” I supplied, helpfully.
She looked away from me and said, “Yeah. Ha. That movie scared the crap out of me. I don’t watch that stuff. Ha. Ha ha. No no.”
I was struck by how nervous the mere mention of zombies, and Night of the Living Dead in particular, made this woman. I managed to eventually become friendly with her in spite of the fact that I enjoy the stuff of her worst nightmares. We don’t talk about it anymore, but not because I don’t want to.
The movie was indeed shot in black-and-white, it cost a little over $100,000 to make, and it still scares the crap out of us. It’s the granddaddy of zombie movies. It features what has to be one of the most memorable lines in horror movie history. Hell, it might be one of the most memorable lines in movie history, PERIOD.
“They’re coming to get you, Barbra.”
Barbra is the first main character we meet in Night of the Living Dead. No hero, she. Barbra lets her brother, Johnny, fight a zombie for her, then she runs away. Well, she rolls away in Johnny’s car, leaving him for dead with absolutely no hesitation. Barbra makes it to the famous zombie besieged Pennsylvania farmhouse and goes into a zombie panic catatonia that makes her no damned help at all to her fellow survivors. I honestly never mind watching Barbra being dragged into the zombie horde by her zombie brother at the end of the film. Barbra doesn’t earn much love in this movie. She’s actually probably who most of us would be, should the zombie apocalypse actually occur. Scared crapless, chanting, “Ha. Ha ha. No no. No no no.”
So whatever happened to Judith O’Dea, the scared crapless Barbra? Judith is still acting in independent films, and she runs her own business communications company. Judy wears her Night of the Living Dead past proudly. She features a page about the film on her website, Odea Communications. She spent most of her most famous role struck mute with fear, but today Judy helps businessmen with their oral presentations. Which sounds dirty, but it is not. Go Barbra!
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! (May 1) Look what Marina found last night!
This re-imagining of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead will pay homage to the timeless classic while expanding upon its storyline to explore more of the night when the dead began to rise. Starring…Judith O’Dea (Original NOTLD), Mike Christopher, David Early, Jim Krut, and David Crawford (Dawn of the Dead 1979), Scott Tepperman (Ghost Hunters Int.), Bill Johnson (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Heidi Hinzman (Daughter to the late Bill Hinzman “NOTLD 1968”), Christy Johnson (Tobe Hooper’s Mortuary), and John Migliore (Land of the Dead & Survival of the Dead)
Here’s me, Jaye. For once Marina wasn’t laughing at me for being scared of some zombie movies. I didn’t get my zombie fiction fix this week. Pooh. I will have to remedy that. In the meantime, every time Marina tries to scare me by mentioning Trowel Girl or speculating that a zombie invasion will leave me cowering, catatonic in a corner, I remind her that she has to quit fooling around and finish her Zombies Take Manhattan collection of stories. Coming soon to an etailer near you.
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.