31 Horrifying Days- Day 16: Quarantine (2008)

I haven’t watched a zombie movie in a while and I’d never seen this one. Well, no one ever says the Z word. But it features humans affected by a rage-virus much in the same style as 28 Days Later and affected animals like in Resident Evil that fall ill and then try to eat your freaking face off, the afflicted are unhindered by pain, unable to speak and without reason. They are sensitive to light and hard to kill.

The modern interpretation of a zombie.

Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”, Exorcism of Emily Rose) stars as Angela Vidal, a television reporter working on a fluff piece about LA’s Bravest. She, along with cameraman Scott (played by Steve Harris, “Awake” and the voice of Clayface on “The Batman”) hang out with the firefighters at the station: shoot hoops, eat chilli, make small talk, then they head out on a call.

The call is medical and they arrive at an apartment building along with the police before the EMTs. When they get there they head upstairs and find an addled looking woman with blood around her collar and then the bodies start dropping. Sometimes literally. One of the firemen gets thrown down 3 floors straight onto the tile. They try to get outside, but the police (and later National Guard and CDC) have them locked in. Even with an injured officer and firefighter. Those inside search for alternate routes and are met with assault rifles and ordered to back away from windows. The police won’t tell them anything and soon they are without cell reception and electricity (this one’s weird. The elevator is on “auxiliary power” and a resident’s TV still works, but there’s no lights. Doesn’t add up except to add to the atmosphere). Angela tells Scott to keep rolling, that people won’t believe this. 

And he does. Of course, one of the things I dislike about mockumentary/found footage films is the implausibility of someone lugging a camera around with rage zombies actively trying to eat their face. He does bash one of the turned over the head with it. The lens gets bloodied. Slightly off camera Scott falls apart while cleaning the blood. Some of the camera angles don’t work. He’d be taping an infected chasing them right till they were face to face but then be first through the door to get the shot of everyone coming in. That’s a nitpick, though. At one point the camera is actually integral because conditions are pitch dark and it has night vision.

It is really good. And the characters work well, the first responders are freaked out but ready for a fight and regular people like Angela and Scott are not built for this. After seeing a firefighter get up walking on a broken leg and a little girl rip out her mom’s throat… she’s done. “I’m done. I’m not moving.” There’s a wealthier white man who wants to exercise his god-given right to die in his own apartment, a young Indian-American couple with nice clothes and a bathroom full of prescription sedatives and narcotics, a pair of North Africans who don’t speak English, the tough cop who is at first reluctant to go against orders (Columbus Short, “Scandal”), the hot firefighter who lives the longest (Jay Hernandez, Hostel, “Gang Related”) and a veterinarian (Greg Germann, “NCIS”) who diagnoses the infected with a mutated form of rabies.

The CDC arrives. The CDC also tells them that a blood test will confirm if they are infected. The veterinarian tells them that they’d need a brain sample. Everyone freaks the hell out. The CDC ends up getting eaten and no one gets their brain sampled. 

As numbers dwindle, the search for a way out leads to an unnecessary plot point. The virus was cultivated by some freakshow in rats first in the name of some cult. It didn’t add much to the plot. It didn’t need it. Dark apartment complex full of relatable people search for a way out while on the run from hyper-rabid former friends.

There are a few females in the film but no girl-power to speak of. I feel as though Angela’s flailing and inability to find a weapon suited her TV diva character… but I wish that there had been an Officer Deb Morgan somewhere.

4.25/5 (I fucking love zombies)

But it should be noted: this movie is based on the Spanish horror film [REC] from 2007, the main character’s name is even the same. I’ll definitely be watching the original.

“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?

Movie Review #14- World War Z

Family man gets called out of retirement to beat zombies over the head with a crowbar… and oh, yeah, save the damn world.

Former UN weapons inspector, Brad Pitt, real life vegan is playing i-Spy taking his kids to school comments: “Do people keep it in pens all it’s life and harvest it for meat?” when helicopters start flying overhead, traffic stops and police order everyone in their vehicles. 

Panicked but trying to calm his children (who are confused and just want their blankets and to hide in a corner), they steal an RV and his daughter starts having an asthma attack, his UN buddies call him in an offer an extraction for him and his family. Fighting off looters for albuterol and road flares proves to be worse than fighting off zombies.

Even roaring, croaking, convulsing, running zombies.

“Be ninja quiet, just a walk in the park”

Off the coast of NY on the USS Argus, Gerry meets up with his former UN cohorts, “Is this worldwide? Is anyone doing better than we are?” top politicians are dead, the biggest cities are the worst off, airline delivery system. Smart guys argue about how ridiculous it is that people are considering the infected “zombies”

Really? You saw this sort of thing:

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And think it’s NOT POSSIBLE THAT IT IS ZOMBIES

The government blackmails Gerry into working for them. Help us or you and your family are back to NJ. So he, a 23 year old Harvard virologist and a team of Navy SEALS jet set in search of evidence and a cure.

The doctor is amused and excited about the research ahead. He is considerably less amused when they get on the ground.

They go to where they think is the “source” an email from a colonel about zombies (that everyone thought was stupid and irrational). A CIA operative, imprisoned at this location, locked up for selling guns to North Korea, says they are surviving there because they pulled out the teeth of every citizen. He says Jerusalem saw it coming.

“The problem with most people is that they don’t believe something can happen til it already has.”

A Mossad leader decided to get on the right side of this thing for once and builds a wall. He thinks patient zero is in India. Turns out he should have built a dome.

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There’s a lot of Brad Pitt staring at the chaos in horror as quicker witted people pull him along. After all the running, Gerry does find a place to hide. And a way to hide.

After a particularly silly plan involving stacking luggage to keep out zombies…. BP causes a plane crash. This and the following scene were particularly nerve wracking. 

Gerry’s UN pals think he’s dead and ship out his family (in a perfect analogy of what the powers that be do with their soldiers when they have served their use). Segen and Gerry make it to the WHO facility where everyone finally gets a clue.

Anxiety inducing, interesting, and full of survival tips.

I have to complain a little, and I will, about Karrin. While competent and smart she was almost raped by looters (because, Under the Dome style, everyone goes batshit in the first ten minutes. Really? Zombies are eating everyone and life without food is in your future and you’re stopping to rape someone? effing sickos. Why did the plot need this? Oh wait, didn’t.) and then the simple act of missing her husband and calling him on the satellite phone gets a bunch of people killed. Really? That rubbed me wrong, it could have been anything that made noise and attracted zombies… but instead it was his wife because she missed him. Argh

Segen earns plenty of badass credits, she saves Gerry’s life, he saves hers, rinse and repeat. But in the end we never know much about her background or what she would want to become of herself. Just another human weapon action chick.

And I’ve said it before, the apocalypse is no place for children, unless you are going to raise them like Erin in You’re Next.

None the less… I give it a 3.75/5 above average, action packed, but nothing too surprising.

Book Review #27- The Darwin Elevator by Jason M Hough

This is the kind of book that would do well enough as a movie is directors had the good sense not to ruin it by giving the role to Tom Cruise (thankfully, he’d be too old for it) or Keanu Reeves (yeesh)…

THE PLOT (snagged from goodreads):

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.
 
Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity

I glanced at the goodreads reviews (for the record: I don’t especially care for goodreads, in general, no offense) some people didn’t like it because the characters weren’t “strong enough” which is fine…

And honestly I can relate. At first I was thinking, “dammit, Skyler, why are you so damn wishy washy?”

Skyler recently became captain, after the former captain of the Melville, Skadz, suddenly abandoned everyone. He’s not particularly good at it. He flew into Darwin with Skadz when humans started going apeshit and eating each other, which is where the rest of the crew got together: Samantha and Angus and Jake. So Skadz leaves and Skyler takes over because the Melville is his. He doesn’t know how to lead, he was a grunt in the Dutch Air Force and was happy not making the tough calls. The people of Darwin have small farms in orbit that supply food and some roof top gardens but they are horribly over populated and depend on scavenger crews ransacking the rest of the earth that is infested with subhumans. The wrong call could get his crew killed or lead to shortages of vital resources… Skyler is caving under the pressure.

“He didn’t want to be special. Or sought after. Truth be told he’d rather be back in the Netherlands, flying mundane patrols for the air force, living a good life. But that was a long time ago, in a different world.”

So, Skyler Luiken hasn’t really gotten over the world ending or his friend freaking out and leaving and doesn’t have the ambition or aptitude for leadership. That’s the point. I know all of you think you would get over your glaring personality flaws and be the Big Damn Hero if it ever came down to it. Reality Check: not everyone is built for it.

Skyler does step up over the course of the book, for the reason straight men do. No, no, not money, not “because it’s the right thing”, not fame, not for adventure, or excitement… for a beautiful woman.

There’s actually a really cute part where he goes to rescue her: not even sure if she’ll remember him, “Hey, it’s Skyler, from Hawaii?”

So if you want to smack him for not being able to make a decision: he will, don’t worry.

In the “women who don’t really need rescuing” category: For the “tough chicks” Kelly Adelaide and Samantha. For the “smart chicks”: Tania Sharma and Natalie.

The story doesn’t follow them around as much (for the record, more time spent with Kelly and Sam would have been optimal)

The world building is good. There’s enough for the general idea of how everything got this way and why every one is going so damn crazy.

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Just kidding, no it’s not. The problem is not really the aliens (or the zombies). It’s plain old human greed. Hidden plans, secret plots, power grabs, revenge, monopolies on resources, money, power, respect. Russel and Alex want to control orbit (where the money lives), tired of being dependent on lesser of two evils Neil Platz. Platz, for the record is hiding too many secrets to name, including the Mother Of All Secrets. And he gets mighty rich off his MOAS. Russel and Alex… and, you know, humanity are right to be resentful.

“The aura is everything.”

This book wraps up a major issue, but leaves the fate of some characters (and earth overall) up in the air. I’m very interested in starting book 2 to see what happens to everybody and how their discovery changes their world! There were also some things that never get fully explained that I hope do in the next book. Like why the “zombies” were changing.

And for the record, if this were made into a movie…. I would pick Michael WeatherlyImage

Even though he is both too old and too tall for it.

PS- It actually reminded me of Outlaw Star, and Gene Starwind who wants to go into space but is terrified. He’s a tough guy and a gunslinger and an all around rad dude, but nothing above and beyond. The first time he’s on a spaceship he passes out, he has to drink to keep his cool. But he ends up inheriting a ship and joining an intergalactic treasure hunt.

4 Data Cubes!

Book Review #24- End Dayz by Kellie Sheridan

For those of you who haven’t read my Follow Friday post this is one of these moments

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This isn’t a book so much as it is 4 “short stories” or rather 4 character introductions for a The Hitchhiker Strain novel. Which I wasn’t aware of at first. The chapters are written as letters or journal entries by the characters.

Pierce writes letters to his girlfriend in London. Belle writes in her diary. Alex leaves notes for his dad. Zack writes an official “report.”

The stories are short and rather unoriginal. The zombies start out shambling and slow and dumb, but the zombies start becoming faster, more savage and smarter. Which might be interesting but it’s really been done to death.

They’re so short that there’s no real time to get to know the characters, but at quick glimpse… they stink. Pierce is boring, Belle is young and helpless, Alex has potential, so does Zack, but really… nothing out of the ordinary.

1 zombie moan

Extinction Parade #1

Max Brooks (author of World War Z) wrote this very interesting comic about a vampire trio off on an adventure during a zombie plague apparently zombies come around here and the throughout the course of time usually without issue. The vamped call them the “subdead” and mock how slow and clumsy the zombies are and wonder how they could have caused so much trouble.
The art is awesome. And by awesome ..I mean totally disgusting. Zombies with jaws ripped off and tongues lolling about., legs torn apart and stomped into the ground… blood everywhere.
LOOK

One vampire has the urge to see a zombie up close so up close that she stumbles into him. Vampires being capable so sudden movements and rational thought the lone zombie doesn’t stand a chance! The last panel promises “now I .understood why zombies were such a joke. But I had no idea that soon the joke would be on us.”

A strong debut. Nothing earthshatteringly interesting, but the art is beyond awesome. It’s gross and violent and very detailed.

QUESTION: in one panel the 3 vampires are discussing whether or not zombies can swim. What do you think?

Continue reading

Book Review #20- Hunger Chronicles by Tes Hilaire

It’s about zombies. 

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Imminent Contact: The narrator is a woman. A tough woman. A tough woman who is SCREWED

End of the Rope: 17 year old emo kid misses her brother, hunts with a bow and arrow.

Two’s Company: Instead of man vs. zombie this is man vs. man. Or man & dog vs. men. Yeah that’s accurate.

The Fittest: Ooooh this one was my favorite. The protagonist was… something else. 

Anyway, the voice and tone of each story is drastically different. The author did a great job telling a few different stories from the z-poc. From to the young to the grizzled to those with no other choice. Fun read. There’s no back story given, just that there is a z-virus and plague zombies. 

Why do all teenage girls have bows and arrows? Someone should at least write it as “I took up archery because the Hunger Games was so cool” because really, there’s no plausible excuse. Maybe it’s just because I live in the city and I’m vegan and I think prevalence of bows and arrows is being greatly exaggerated.

Irregardless! 4 Brains!

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