Monday, October 17, 2011

Zombies on the brain

I've got zombies on the brain. Watched The Walking Dead season two premiere last night (good stuff) and I'm about to start reading Brian Keene's The Rising. With two weeks to Halloween I'm going full-bore horror.

Did anyone else catch The Walking Dead last night? If so, I'd like to know your thoughts on it and/or the series thus far. Discussion/spoilers follow after the break (now that Blogger has added the "insert jump break" button, I might as well start using it).

The quality of the show is very high. Now, I'm not the best person to render this judgement. I don't watch any TV shows, just occasional news, movies, History or Discovery one-offs, and sporting events. In general I'm really impressed with the quality of The Walking Dead, which is far better than the TV shows I recall from my younger days. In particular I loved the scene when the zombie horde shows up and the survivors have to take quick shelter underneath cars on the jammed-up highway, praying that they won't be detected. I was on the edge of my seat.

The gore level is surprising. When Rick and Daryl cut open a zombie to check for a little girl's remains (yug) I knew the camera was going to cut away (no pun intended), but then it came back and gave us a full look at rotting innards and the stomach and its meaty contents. Wasn't expecting that. The screwdriver in the zombie's eyes scene was another shocker. The corpse in the tent was ... disturbing.

Some of the characters' actions are stupid, which is annyoing. Rick and Lori letting their kid wander around a highway strewn with abandoned vehicles full of corpses, any of which might be animated and waiting for someone to open a door, was a bit ridiculous. Driving an RV with a cranky radiator and an unreliable engine when the planet is full of abandoned vehicles strains credibility. Rick taking his son into the woods to find a missing girl instead of leaving him in a car with the possibility of a quick getaway is a pretty stupid decision, particularly for a cop.

Zombies really make no sense, except to explain them as magic. What makes them hungry for flesh (and only for living/freshly killed tissue, as they don't eat rotting corpses)? Their organs don't work so they can't digest flesh, so can a zombie stuff its entire intestine full and be sated? Why is a zombie's bite so fatal, when you can otherwise butcher them like cattle and handle their intestines and innards and even cover yourself in their gore to disguise yourself, as happened in season one? If zombies are just dead tissue, why not just hole up for a year with a lot of water and canned food and let nature take its course and let them all rot away?

I guess I'm overthinking this aspect too much. 'Cuz in the end zombies make for good drama. And the show is very entertaining and gripping because of its unpredictability. Great stuff. I'm looking forward to episode 2.


The Frothy Friar said...

You have questions about zombies...I suggest you read the text book on "The Zombie Survival Guide". It has answers to many of your questions, and much more!

In all seriousness, the book is fantastic if you haven't read it. It's almost become the official "rulebook" on zombies with realistic answers to un-realistic questions.

And after you read that, read World War Z.

btw...I'm just starting Brian Keene.

Andy said...

Just to warn you: The Rising ends on a pretty big cliffhanger, so you might want to have the sequel, City of the Dead, on hand if you really enjoy the book. I read The Rising a few months ago and thought it was entertaining, with some very cool tweaks to the zombie formula, although Keene's prose didn't quite thrill me.

I watched Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead recently and it made me wish that people doing "zombie" stories now (as George Romero would say, they're really not zombies at all but ghouls) would loosen up on the rules as established by Romero's movies. Fulci's zombies were weird creatures that seemed caught between dimensions, with abilities like teleportation, which made them much more unnerving than the flesh-eating shamblers we see so often now.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Brian and Andy, thanks for the comments. I'm actually well aware of both World War Z and City of the Dead:

Andy: Yeah, I read City of the Dead in reverse order, so I know the ending already, but I liked it enough to seek out The Rising.

Brian: I do need to get the Zombie Survival Guide.

Falze said...

I do need to get the Zombie Survival Guide.

Yes. Yes, you do. It's awesome. Meanwhile I have to read WWZ. And just in case I'd better crack open that 'How To Survive A Robot Uprising' book, too. I figure it's only a matter of time before Al Davis reappears as either a robot or a zombie and I want to be prepared...

Word Verification: 'lympe'...I'm pretty sure that's the original British spelling of 'limp'.

The Frothy Friar said...

Organize BEFORE they rise!

Anonymous said...

If the characters didn't make mistakes, the show would be a lot less interesting. That's the Catch 22. Their negligence fuels the action, and the action is what guides the narrative. Almost everything the characters have done is a reaction to previous screw up.


Brian Murphy said...

Hmm... I'm not I sure I agree, C. I think the characters could make smarter choices, and still run into plenty of hair-raising scenarios with the zombies. If the writers are clever and creative enough it can be done. Take Dawn of the Dead (original version) for example. The characters eventually take over a shopping mall by wiping out all the undead inside, and it's done very smartly and efficiently and believably. Except that ennui and boredom sets in, and a group of bikers from without break in, and the whole thing collapses into chaos.

Let me clarify though by saying that the occasional lapses into stupidity on The Walking Dead aren't even close to deal breakers (I still love the show) and can be attributed to factors like fatigue, or dehydration, etc.