“Blog Carnival” Post: Stereotypes & Monstrous Metaphors

I’ve talked before about those misogynist werewolf societies, which could be of relevant interest. But today: Today, my friends, I would like to talk to you about the zombie apocalypse. Or rather, how the outbreak of zombie survivalism relates to the American Dream.

The horror genre has always been an outlet for expressing society’s concerns and fears. While Zombie’s have been huge since Steppenwolf’s heyday, It’s undeniable that the zombie genre and dystopia in general has become freaking huge lately.

Zombies, the faceless hungry mob themselves, and their reasons for shambling have changed immesely since 1968.

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In the classic Night of the Living Dead, zombies rise as a result of crashed space junk. Specifically a radioactive satellite that crashes unexpectedly after a mission to Venus and the corpses of the recently deceased rise to their feet in search of human flesh. With an abundance of nuclear testing during that time period:

The Cold War and Space Race in recent memory, Americans didn’t know who to trust. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of zombies, our survivors hole up in a good American farmhouse to make their last stand. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and the 2004 remake saw survivors and zombies alike flocking to the mall in a dig at consumerism and capitalism. Concern over limited resources, class divide and American’s working day in and day out on autopilot to buy… things.

More recently, zombies don’t crawl out of their crypts. They’re living humans infected by rampant viruses and contagions that turn rational people into drooling, spitting and primal corpse munchers. Because these are our fears. Nuclear testing has brought forth no reanimated corpses. We made peace with our consumerism. But viral outbreaks, new illnesses, fear of vaccines and GMOs? That’s right on the money.

The Newsflesh trilogy saw a “zombie virus” amplified in previously healthy humans after well intentioned do-gooders douse the population with a vaccine that when mixed with another common treatment went seriously awry. The Dire Earth series has zombies created by aliens, which is a rarity and harkens back to Romero’s original. But in both these book franchises, zombies (or subhumans) are facts of life, some run, some crawl, some shamble. Recent dead are more human in movement and quickly degrade.

28 Day Later brought fast zombies to the forefront way back in 2002, and the fast zombie train keeps speeding along with 2012′s World War Z. 2009’s Zombieland, zombies in the gamerworld: ZombieU and the Left 4 Dead franchise, hell: Plant versus Zombies: the “walking dead” will run after you, Marvel Zombies had running, fighting suped up zombies. A critique of the fact that we don’t even have time to wait for zombies to come get us? I’m sorry I’m too busy, I can’t wait for you to shamble on over here. And in response, the zombie genre evolves and they will come get your brains!

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Zombies always have stood for the fear of being condemned to being part of a starving faceless mob, or being part of a hoarde with no autonomy for yourself any longer. More often than not the government is useless, selfish or behind it all. Another scathing jab at the state of affairs. With unemployment up, a major divide between classes and overall distrust of mainstream media and world leaders it’s not surprising we have seen a resurgence in this genre.

World War Z, the most recent zombie flick I’ve seen treats Gerry as special, but casts out his family after they think he is dead because the UN only has resources “for essential personnel” and with Gerry perceived incapacitated, they have no reason to care for his family any longer (in a poignant snark about how we treat families of veterans, or veterans themselves when they are deemed unnecessary, unworthy or whenever they are done with them). But it is clear beyond clear the Gerry has special privilege, (soldiers jump in front of teeth and bullets for him) that isn’t touched on in zombie flicks that follow non governmental employees:

Class divide affects people in all sorts of ways. People are afraid of being poor, afraid of being faceless and unable to control themselves (zombies), people who fancy themselves working or middle class are concerned about the ubiquitous “other” trying to come and take what is there’s (zombies AND other humans fighting for a space to call their own). Modern life as a battlefield for resources, for safety. Fortune favors the prepared and the resourceful. Zombies don’t care about what you last name is or if your jeans (or genes) are designer. And we know that you can’t trust “them” no matter what that means this decade. Unlike other horror movie creeps, ghosts, vamps, ghouls, wolves: zombies have no power, no goals beyond shambling and eating. No one wants to be a zombie. Survivors: If you work hard, you can rebuild, you can survive. And really isn’t that the American Dream?

Dracula- Episode 1

Ohh Lucy (Katie McGrath, “Merlin”) and Mina (Jessica de Gouw, “Arrow”) I read the book and I know you’re in for trouble 😉

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, from “the Tudors”, Match Point and Mortal Instruments, first appears as Dracula following a gory and very old cinema resurrection scene. It was great, And then the creature of the night invents light.. the light bulb, actually. Employing tech dismissed by Edison and Tesla? …yeah, he’s a fraud. No vamp magic, just a trick. But he’s got it bad for Mina (as per usual).

Renfield (an actual slave, a “vampire servant”) is the only black person on the show. 

Professor Van Helsing and Blonde Lady are hunting down Dracula “Oh how many years since we’ve seen a real vamp in these streets?” And the answer is “Jack the Ripper” (oh so, Jack the Ripper wasn’t a maniac HUMAN BEING attacking sexworkers and striking fear into women because he was a nutbag… he was a vamp… oh, cool. Thanks for the history lesson.)

Mina is smart and studious BUT not physically skilled enough to perform surgery. (My eyes roll hard). She has night terrors about Dracula (as the socialite- in the past)

A hot Dracula is a Dracula lurking outside of college dorms. I can’t say I’m on board. At least there is decent gore as he has a snack.

So he’s a visionary delusional egomaniac? Oh man. I haven’t seen anything like that lately (the eyes roll, mother fuckers)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is sexy beyond sexy and the scenes are hot… and fake as shit and women are based off of professional women wearing costumes that women now a days fancy pin-ups to be… but really were too revealing for prostitutes back then… anyway. It looks good. It’s actually pretty tasty… but over all, I don’t get the point …and JRM has a terrible American accent.

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I mean, but have you seen him? He’s delicious.

And he’s probably unbalanced and has a drinking problem… but I only have a glass house to throw my stones out of.. so.. I digress. 

This review was rather scathing and I think I should add that most of it looked effing amazing. And I will be watching. I just don’t understand why this time period was chosen and what not.

I’ll even rate it… errrrrrrrrrrrrrr… 3.5!

Agents of SHIELD episode 5

In the streets of Hong Kong a street performer puts on magic tricks for an unimpressed crowd. Until a girl in a flowered dress shows up. He shows off something that’s not a trick, he can create and control fire with just the palm of his hand. She tells him he’s special and goes home with him, she tells him he shouldn’t hide his power and that he could be noticed and be remembered. She tells him to close his eyes and imagine and when he opens his eyes, there’s 2 humans in fireproof suits there to haul him away. He stabs one in the leg leaving a shred of fabric as a clue.

Agent Kwan out of Hong Kong calls Coulson and the gang. After interrupting Skye and Ward’s flirting/Battleship game, Kwan tells them that the Rising Tide hacked their feed and that’s how someone knew when to find Chan (the fireguy). All eyes on Skye. But she says it wasn’t her. She also is somewhat outraged that SHIELD keeps tabs on people with superhuman powers. 

Chan wakes up and thinks he’s been taken by SHIELD. The girl in the flowered dress, Rayna, says they are not with SHIELD and that Chan is being held back but she and her friends can help grow his power. She tells him he can be remembered like Captain America, he can be Scorch And she does help him…

SHIELD finds the culprit responsible for the hack but he gets away… thanks to Skye. Miles is someone she had been, uh… close with. And she sends him a text to tip him off before he gets picked up by Ward. Skye waits for him at his apartment that she thought SHIELD wouldn’t have found him at? I don’t understand that. She says he shouldn’t have been hacking SHIELD while she was on the inside. Then they hook up. Which honestly, they should have saved the hot and heavy show all til Skye and Ward… but whatever, it was kind of sexy, Skye frolics around in her undies …But it’s Agent May who finds Skye’s shirt.

Skye tries to apologize, but Ward cuffs her and they head back to the plane.

Miles is an idealist, he says that holding them this way violates their freedoms, Skye says that they are doing it to save an innocent man’s life. May tries interrogating him about who he works for and he says that information has a life of it’s own and he set it free. blah blah woof woof. Only he didn’t. He was paid seven figures for it. Miles says he investigated and that it was a harmless eco group (“something about centipedes.” really, genius hacker? Harmless eco groups don’t have that kind of cash. Obviously).

But back to Centipede, the group injecting people (like the dad in the first episode)  with Extremis serum took Chan the pyrokinetic because the platelets in his blood can stabilize the compound so they don’t go all Pepper Potts and turn into a hot-mess

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They start sucking the platelets out of him and sensing his impending doom, he tries to fight back, he also keeps calling himself Scorch. Scorch is possibly a real character from the Marvel universe, the name is used minorly a few times and I think is most closely related to the alter-ego of Tommy Ng a mutant/pyrokinetic and former criminal… not quite, well… busking is a crime. 

By the time Coulson and May show up the situation is far past diffusal. Scorch tries to take them out and Coulson wastes the tranquilizers that were Chan’s last hope (why did he fire them all at once when it clearly wasn’t working?) So Agent May overdoses Chan with Extremis. Skye with the help of Ward extracts some files before Chan blows up and then Miles gets a tracker slapped on him and booted out into Hong Kong. 

Coulson confront Skye about what she’s really doing there. Chloe Bennet proves she can act and spills her guts: the only thing she has to go on about her birth parents? A document, redacted, by SHIELD. Coulson doesn’t know… but seems sympathetic. Then she gets her tracker, no more good faith, but not kicked out of the club.

All in all this was a good episode. I don’t know what to think about how they let Chan die though. Given SHIELD’s use of life and death to rally their posse it seemed like a tactic to blame the Rising Tide and greedy members like Miles and really hard line “This-information-is-a-secret-for-the-greater-good” which sometimes it is, btw, but it was just another “government is good and knows best” propaganda. Again. Maybe the probe into Skye’s past will add some much needed depth? Umm… I’m hopeful, but I still doubt it.

Book Review #28- Exodus Towers by Jason M Hough

The second book in the Dire Earth series picks up where the first left off. Skyler, Tania and other “traitors” are building their colony in Belem, Brazil. Skyler, now enjoying a role as a decisive man of action and Tania is the colony’s leader. As such, she spends a ton of time in orbit away from Skyler and doing important bureaucratic things like debating with Zane and Tim. Skyler and Tania fell in “insta-love” in the first book and now they’re dealing with the aftermath. They really didn’t know each other, and now the distance and differences in opinion drive a wedge between them. It’s very nuanced and well written in that aspect. Skyler, often off scavenging, researching and adventuring, isn’t there for Tania the way Tim and Zane are and the orbitals are egregiously out of touch with what’s happening on the ground. That all come to a head when the camp is taken by a gang/cult/bunch of freaks who are all immunes who refer to orbitals as spacemen and believe that immunes are meant to inherit the Earth. Extremists who believe that they are the chosen-ones.

Speaking of chosen-ones… back in Darwin, my girl Samantha Rinn (who *score* we did get more of in this book) starts off a captive of Blackfield’s. After an attempted escape she is sent on a mission by slumlord/Jacobite leader, Grillo. And then she’s set off on more mission as Grillo has her friend Kelly Adelaide under his thumb. He brings her out into the field when he needs an immune (she is the last known in Darwin) and she runs the scavenger crews, which she hates. The Jacobites believe the Darwin Elevator is Jacob’s Ladder and they start imposing Jacobite laws on the people, no drinking, a holy day, no using the lord’s name in vain… that sort of thing, and like any good religious cult, being armed to the teeth never conflicts with their belief system. Samantha helps Grillo because she gains her freedom and because, frankly she has nothing else to do. But Grillo turns out to have bigger goals than he initially let on.

There are some new characters, one of which is Ana. One of the few problems I had with this book was that I felt like Hough couldn’t decide what age Ana should be, he wanted her to be substantially younger than Skyler and immature/maladapted and she was, but I feel like the age waffled a bit. I read the ARC copy, so perhaps it came together in the final cut, anyway. Ana falls hard for Skyler and he tries to keep her at a distance, but with Tania in orbit and a rift between them… it gets complicated. Ana is impulsive, tough, spoiled and determined. A good teammate but she escapes the overused action-chick cliches.

And throughout love triangles, violent cults and espionage we still have the evolving sub-humans (zombie like survivors of the SUBS virus get tougher in strange ways), upcoming alien events, and beyond weird alien artifacts. My favorites include Sam being trapped in alien brambles and Skyler entering a dome that pays no mind to the rules of space and time.

There’s a ton going on and frankly, it was super awesome. The second book in a trilogy always bugs me. The first is always self contained and then the second ramps up but leaves so much lying around for the third. But I’m in. There’s a good amount of book here, as you can tell. It’s worth it.

The other thing that bugged me a ton: the rift between Skyler and Tania. Tania bartered with Gabriel that she would turn in Skyler (she didn’t mean it), and he heard her, he would have forgiven her but she lied about it because she felt guilty. But she had the nerve to tell him that he started combat with Gabriel, that he should have negotiated. These guys were rapists. Seriously: Skyler needed to kill every last one, no regrets. Period. And he never said “Tania, you don’t even know what is going on down here. Shut up.” 

Last review I cast Michael Weatherly to star as main protag Skyler Luiken, this time Samantha gets a face: 

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Alexa Vega from Machete Kills As much as I would love to throw future Captain Marvel Katee Sackhoff in a time machine and pick her, I’m going with this former Spy Kid to throw punches and throw down one-liners.

and the role of Tania goes to

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Noureen Dewulf from Pulse 2 and Pulse 3 (and frankly, a bunch of movies I haven’t seen) would be great as new leader Tania, the smart scientist, the good friend and stunning love interest.

I’d love to see Demi Lovato get a little wild as our Ana

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And Peruvian model/actress Angie Jibaja should certainly play someone.

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4 Stars for sure.

Agents of SHIELD Episode 4

Stockholm, Sweden. Men with red faces walking in straight lines and being generally weird walk through a rather unimpressed crowd and board a subway train. They are being trailed by a serious woman, “black, athletic build, late twenties early thirties” with headphones in her ears. She boards the train with them and breaks the emergency glass. She kills them all, and cuts off one’s hand. 

25 men, same suits, same briefcases, 25 different routes, same meeting place. Skye thinks the woman was a mind reader. It also turns out that the woman is a rogue SHIELD Agent. 

“It’s amazing, every year this job gets easier.” Coulson remarks …But who does flickr? haha. Skye finds pictures of the men in masks on instagram… kinda didn’t need a hacker genius for that. Just saying.

The rogue Agent was Coulson’s protege, Akila, and Skye gives him a “What ever weird stuff she got into, it’s not your fault.” speech, which leads me to believe that she’s still on Team Rising Tide.

The Rogue Agent saved a woman working in a hotel, told her to visit a doctor and the woman had a tumor, her life was saved. Fitz-Simmons, happy to stay in the van and miss the action with Skye are hacking umm… stuff? And hack into *a camera on a moving truck that has an x-ray cam that’s about to run into them* …ummmm… WTF technology?

Skye still can’t shoot anyone. AND Fitz-Simmons and Skye roll over in the van. BUT they all return safe and sound. Skye is full of pep and optimism that she can find the feed that she was using to watch them… THE CAMERA IS IN HER EYE. SHE IS THE CAMERA! Fitz-Simmons have never heard of anything this small being functional.

Coulson wants to bring her in May wants her dead. Ward sides with May. Skye notices that she has a note written asking if she can sleep and Coulson knows she’s being controlled. Later Skye confides in Coulson and then tells him she has her back on the Rogue Agent front.

May, who should have been watching the feed decided to run over there and confront her.  But “they” are watching her and there’s a rule, Akila tells Agent May “Either I kill you or they kill me.”

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Can May have more than one expression, please? Please?

Other Agent smashes the lamp and nearly shoots May as Coulson busts in. Akila is with Coulson and there’s a kill switch in her eye, Ward is wearing glasses that mimic the feed as he does Akila-like things (Skye helps). Akila asks Coulson why he is being so compassionate, “Where’s the I told you so?” and Coulson says, “That’s not me anymore.” May watches the interaction and it’s clear she’s harboring a grudge.

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In an op gone wrong, Akila was captured and blind in one eye, she was in a cage at the bottom of a copper mine for 4 years before they fixed up her eye. She was grateful until they started giving her orders. Akila never met anyone in person, but he writes English like an Englishman. Coulson extrapolates more from her clues. And decides it’s a heavy set man (which really narrows it down, right?) The squeamish duo Fitz-Simmons perform surgery while Coulson goes to find out whose finger is on the trigger. 

Ward, still disguised as Akila, get his orders to seduce a man. (oh haha, gay jokes, fuck you). Skye says, “Can you be friendly? Please don’t die.” He can’t be friendly… he knocks the guy out. Ward is attracted to some alien writing on a chalk board and the camera clicks a photo. Mission Complete. Good Luck.

Ward has to shoot his way out of a building, Akila’s exploding eye is removed and dropped into liquid nitrogen. Coulson approaches the man he thinks is the handler. Turns out he was a former MI-6 agent who fell off the grid. When Coulson flashes his badge the man’s eyeball explodes and he drops. Coulson is rather unmoved if you ask me. The handler was just as trapped as Akila.

X-Ray eyes asks “what did they do to him?” 

May pretends (I’m pretty sure) not to know what she is talking about.

After credits HaHa: Skye sneaks a peek at Ward with the X-Ray specs. (which if you saw Akila looking at May with x-Ray vision… it looked like she was in a morphsuit ..whatevs.

Next week’s previews have Skye being handcuffed and called a traitor. But those of us playing at home already knew that. I actually hope that she gets found out and that it adds more duality to the show rather than “Good guys are good, they don’t do bad things. Yay the government keeping secrets from America because they know best!”

Sleepy Hollow Episode 5

A boy is playful teased by a young girl and he chases her through the woods, until he is chased him self by a man on the horse. He has a head and looks like Attila the Hun. The boy runs away and into modern day Sleepy Hollow. Lieutenant Mills, who has moved Ichabod into Corbin’s cabin, is called when they boy turns up unconscious, Ichabod invites himself along. The boy awakens briefly and begins speaking middle English.

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Ichabod studied Middle English at Oxford (I mean, of course!) and tells Irving and Mills that the boy said “Evil Girl” The boy has “blackening veins” and the quarantine him. Ichabod goes and Skype’s in middle English. Abbie is still holding out the idea that the boy is modern and was being held by some freak show who taught him a dead language so he couldn’t ask for help.

They believe the boy is from Roanoke.. no no, not Virginia, the Lost colony. That’s a real thing by the way. First English Settlement in established in 1585. It vanished. BUT Middle English was only a thang until 1470… then they would have been speaking Early Modern English.. whatever.

Abbie: “Who was more sarcastic? Jefferson or Adams?”

The boy has never been vaccinated against anything, go figure. Others affected as a result of coming into contact with the contagion get black veins and die quickly complete with visions of the horseman (with the head).

Because he’s Pestilence, amirite?

Abbie and Ichabod hike through the woods and they find water deeper than it should be… so they walk on water… on a small island they find the colony. People are all sick with black veins, but they are well. It also has not changed at all in 400 years. On the island the illness is in stasis, but outside people become sick. They are protected by a spell. 

Ichabod become infected and on the brink of death, he sees Katrina. 

Morales (Abbie’s ex) is checking up on Ichabods credentials… which check out, somehow. What? Not that he should be checking, it’s none of your business, Morales!

Abbie prays to figure out what to do with Ichabod. And hides from Morales. Abbie decides that the spring water at the colony can save Crane and the boy… and, you know, the rest of the town. Abbie divulges the details to Irving and he gives her the go ahead to try it out.

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Meanwhile Katrina is telling Ichabod that she is being held captive by Morlock. That she’s in purgatory. Tearful reunion and such. But Abbie wakes him (and Thomas) up and they are shaking and on the verge of collapse. Abbie says she won’t go without Ichabod and she gives him an adrenaline shot. Soon after they are on the run from Attila and they rush in just in time to submerge themselves in the spring and save the colony from the horseman and the afflicted from the illness. Then the colony disappears (Thomas was lured into their world by the “evil girl”) and everyone affected by the sickness returns to health… well, that doesn’t make that much sense… but sure.

The pacing in this episode was much better than it has been, the selective use of historical trivia is interesting, Abbie saved the day and Morales sets himself up to be the Doakes. I like it.

“I have officers retracing the trail as we speak” Is Ichabod an officer? umm….. no

in 3 weeks the horseman returns. Templar Knights, Walter Bishop, John Cho comes bach and Ichabod sacrificing himself?? Say what?! Can’t wait!

Battle of the Atom Chapter 7

Or X-Men #6

My fave X-Men book. I have been enjoying the crossover, but this series in particular is the reason I’m reading about all these mutants! Exciting!

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This cover is not incredibly exciting. The issue was good, though.

Jubilee wakes up to a screaming Shogo and Bling! who made Shogo a device that corresponds to Jubilee’s telemetrics tries to talk to Jubes about her feud with Mercury. But she gets interrupted… again. This time by Rachel, Rogue and Wolverine returning to the Jean Grey school. Wolverine asks Rachel to spy on the future X-Men. Which seems too late since Jean/Xorn is ready to throw young Jean, young Scott and young Angel in the time cube.

But young Beast and young Iceman are gone! (Last issue they bugged out with Magik to the distant future and then met up with present day Cyclops)  This is not new that Xavier’s grandson takes well and he directs his intense rage at Bling! WTF! Wolverine steps in. During the commotion Rachel is able to interlope and finds that the future X-Men are all freaking wrong… and future Kitty Pryde proves to be… Wolverine’s son…

WOW

All Hell breaks loose. 

And Jubilee throws her baby at Rogue and Psylocke (who says “Eep!”) and screams “I hate when telepaths fight ‘cuz I have no idea what’s going on! But I’m blaming you, ‘cuz I don’t like you anyway!” She bares her fangs and lunges at Xavier’s grandson! YES! 

Ice Hulk fling Jubilee into the ceiling.

Psylocke (still holding Shogo) swings a 90 pound mace at Ice Hulk.

Rachel psychically fights Xavier and is successful until Molly cracks her over the head.

Side note- Wolverine is missing his healing factor? WHAAAAAAT?

Jubilee, from the roof yells “Shogo! Push the beep-beep!” and Shogo gets put in a bubble so that Psylocke can fight Deadpool, then Jubes, her baby and Bling! run off. 3 of the 5 original are being held by Xorn/Jean and future Beast, Kitty, Storm, Beast and Bobby are also captive after Xorn/Jean’s psychic attack. The school gets locked down so that the real future X-Men can’t show up. 

And they do …obviously, along with Cyclops and Emma Frost. 

Pretty much all of these issues have had a huge WTF moment at the end… this one is no exception.

We’re getting towards the end. 3 more left in the cross over. Things that made no sense: Everyone stood around and watched while “Xavier’s grandson” (who is actually young Charles Xavier from the future… ummmm) beat up on Bling!? What? Rachel, Rogue, Psylocke and Jubilee (who made Bling the #2 in charge of Shogo) watched?! Umm… no, that doesn’t sound likely. 

Thanks to Rogue’s interaction with IceHulk we know that no one is driving that bus.

Why is Wolverine’s son blue? Did Wolverine and Mystique have a child? I have no idea what’s going on here. Please help me out…