Saturday, October 18, 2014

13 Days 'Til Halloween Grab Bag

Don't forget to enter the contest going on this month!


I don't think I've got it in me to do a full write-up, but I did want to mention during this Halloween Countdown that I recently saw 28 Days Later, which is (fairly rightly) considered a modern horror classic and one I had missed out on the first time around. It's certainly another impressive entry in Danny Boyle's filmography, both on its own merits and in terms of just how different it is from his other work in Trainspotting and Sunshine (the presence of Cillian Murphy notwithstanding).

There are aspects of the plot that really don't make a ton of sense, mostly involving the zombies and how they work. I'm all for a new breed of zombie that moves with punishing speed and ferocity, and putting that down to a virus that manifests as pure rage and spreads via blood and saliva is as good an explanation as any. Except for the whole pandemic aspect, when you stop and think about it. By making the monsters living hosts for a neurological disease rather than reanimated corpses with a hunger for brains, it seems to me that the vectors get all screwed up. Undead zombie bites you, you die (of the bite or other causes), then you rise again as a zombie, that has a certain mythic logic to it. It doesn't matter if the zombie bites you once in the course of you fighting it off and escaping, or if multiple zombie bites are part of the zombie killing you. Rage-infected person bites you, you get infected as well, but you have to be alive in order to become one of them. If you die, you're just dead. So why would these rage-zombies leave any of their victims alive? If they are truly infected with pure rage, wouldn't that manifest as attacking someone and just savagely beating/biting them to death? Pure rage does not, to me, imply "and also they have an agenda of spreading the virus to other living hosts". It implies an initial outbreak of violence that would quickly burn itself out, as a small number of rage-zombies kill a bunch of people, then are contained, then turn on and kill each other (because why not? it's not like they crave the brains of the living and can't get any sustenance out of cannibalizing each other; rage is still rage directed at any target). It's as though the writer (Alex Garland) came up with a nifty pseudo-scientific explanation for a scarier kind of zombie, then plugged them into all the old tropes of zombie movies despite the fact that a game-changer does in fact change the game. By the latter portions of the movie, where Major West is bragging that he has one live, captive zombie as a kind of experiment to see how long it takes for their kind to starve to death, it's as if everyone has forgotten that the "zombies" are supposed to just be human beings infected with a fury-inducing virus, and presumably they'd starve to death about as fast as anyone else.

None of that matters, clearly. A zombie pandemic with different bells and whistles is just an excuse for an examination of how human beings get by in the world and what might happen if the extraneous elements of civilization were stripped away, and between that and the audacious visuals brought to the screen the movie has to be considered a success. But since it's October, I felt compelled to consider the creatures as a concept, just in the spirit of things. (That spirit is apparently "nitpicky".) Still, no version blood-spitting predators can really top Brendan Gleeson looking at the only unspoiled fruit in a post-apocalyptic grocery and delivering the immortal line, "Mmmmmm ... irradiated."


This week I found out that a short story I've written has been accepted for a forthcoming anthology, which was an unexpected bit of good news. I won't get into too many details about it here, and for that matter probably won't until the book is much closer to a publication date, but I'm including it in the grab bag because it's at least tangentially Halloween-like. The tale I told (or retold, as it happens) is a horror-story twist on a classic fairy tale. Fun stuff. Updates to follow!


We've made it more than halfway through the countdown and I haven't missed a day yet - can I keep it up for another 12 days? Come back tomorrow and find out!

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