How To Zombie Proof Your Car….

Read any zombie book and it is quite obvious: Your car is one of the most vulnerable places you can be in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Sitting in your vehicle on a traffic-jammed highway in the midst of a zombie outbreak is almost as bad as being at the mall….

This video offers a very detailed look at the role of your car in a zombie apocalypse and includes important points like how to choose a vehicle, modifying it and then using it. When a zombie outbreak begins, the last thing you are going to have time to do is shop. So this video focuses on materials that are readily available. It also has tips on other things you will need during a zombie outbreak like weapons, food,water, first aid and entertainment.

Zombie Apocalypse Basic Skills Test delayed

I know that I promised that the Zombie Apocalypse Basic Skills test would be the next entry, but I have been having some format problems that have been holding the entry up.

As soon as I solve the format issues, I will post the entry.  Thanks for your patience!

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, Again….

Okay, let’s take a moment to review here.  We have looked at the zombie basics of understanding the typical scenario of a zombie outbreak and how it spreads.  We have examined the essential films to see what we can learn from them.  We have looked at the zombie book lists and should have a feeling for what life in the zombie apocalypse should be like.. By this point. you should have a pretty good idea of the skills needed to survive a zombie apocalypse and know what to expect.

But what if you still don’t “get it?” What if you just don’t think your zombie kill skills are quite up to snuff?  What if you are so unnerved by the sight of the living dead that you can’t think? What if, God forbid, you flunk one of The Oatmeal’s tests?

Then it is time for Dr. Dale to the rescue. 

Dr. Dale is a zombiologist who does training seminars on How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse.  That’s right personalized, small group training for those who require a little extra help in learning how to survive your very own zombie outbreak. 

These seminars were a huge hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year.  After successfully appearing in UK venues as well as on a very successful podcast series,  Dr. Dale and his team are back with series 2, The How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse Reloaded.

The How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse Reloaded seminars are currently being seen at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe through the 29th of August. Dr. Dale and his crack team of teachers have donated all of their share of the takings from the opening weekend (6th-8th Aug) to Zombie-Aid, a charity that holds zombie events to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

“Our seminar will save lives,” the self professed guru, Dr Dale Seslick, tells us, nodding sagely. “I look upon this show as a divine mission to ensure that the general public receive the information they need to be able to survive a zombie outbreak no matter what their level of intelligence. In order to do this we cover a wide range of topics, including such gems as:  how to build weapons and barricades from everyday items; the killing of and defence against the undead; where the safest places to hide are and how to choose which friend or family member to sacrifice when the need arises – it’s a fun and informative evening for all.”

If you are considering this type of interactive training, Dr. Dale recommends that you ask yourself some of these questions relating to how prepared you are for a zombie apocalypse:

Do you know what a zombie looks like? Do you know how you become infected? Would you be aware of the safest place to go when the undead rise? Could you effectively kill a zombie with just a Florida orange lip balm and roll of cellotape? The answer to these questions may be ‘yes’. The answer to these questions may be ‘no’ or the answer could just be ‘I don’t care’ – well, you should care! Because if you don’t care then you will die! And then you will rise from the dead. And then we’ll have to kill you. And then you’ll die again…. and that is just unacceptable.

 He has also written a new, soon-to-be-considered-a-seminal work called Dr Dale’s Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive. I am looking forward to reading it  – I think my copy accidentally got diverted to the Falklands, LOL!  Actually, I am still holding out hope for a Kindle version! The early reviews, like this one from The Rotting Zombie,  are great!

The dictionary is said to combine first rate zombie survival skills with a dry, British sense of humor. Where else are you going to find information on how to deal with a naked zombie? Considering how often that scenario happens in zombie books and films, I am surprised no one has addressed that issue before! This is certainly an area I need help in!

If you are interested in further information on the seminars and podcasts (as well as Dr. Dale’s dictionary), you can visit the website at www.howtosurviveazombieapocalypse.co.uk.

Or, you can contact Dr. Dale at 07910 301616, 01524 34316 or via email at show-time@hotmail.co.uk.

Next up: The Zombie Apocalypse Basic Skills Test (ZABST). Please have your digital number two pencils ready!

The Essential Zombie Films – A Study Guide

Much of the information we need to survive a zombie attack is clearly laid out in the films of the genre. The list below are just the bare minimum of what I consider to be some of the “classics.”

The First Zombie Film

The first zombie film was 1932’s  White Zombie with Bela Lugosi. The film featured voodoo and hordes of zombies, not trying to eat the living,  but laboring for thier voodoo master. Known more for Lugosi’s performance and the great atmosphere conveyed in the film, it is now considered a classic. And, since the it is in the public domain, you can watch the entire film on YouTube. You can also download it (along with other goodies)  at the Internet Archive.

The Romero Films:

It is 1968. George a Romero makes history with his film, Night of the Living Dead. This is the movie that started it all. Because of an error, this film was in the public domain immediately after its release. You can also view this at YouTube and download at the Internet Archive.

You cannot underestimate the effect that this film had on the industry and popular culture.  The debt the horror and slasher films genre owes George A. Romero is astounding, as even a brief Google search shows. Romero paved the way for a new generation of horror movies around the world. Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci’s 1979 work, Zombie 2, was actually  billed as a sequel to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.  Slasher flicks like the Friday the 13th and the Nightmare on Elm Street series probably would not even exist. 

Take a look at the trailer:

So. The essential Romero films are:

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Dawn of the Dead (1979)

Day of the Dead (1985)

I would also include Land of the Dead (2005) because from a social commentary level, it really moves the series along.

For true Romero purists (and completists), Diary of the Dead (2008) & Survival of the Dead (2009) complete the series

There is a great blog series that covers the classic Romero films and can be used as a study guide: http://www.thedorkreport.com/2009/02/16/the-george-a-romero-zombie-cycle-part-1-night-of-the-living-dead/

The Romero Remakes:

As far as the remakes go, people either love them or hate them. I am personally quite fond of Night of the Living Dead 1990. I love the portrayal of Barbara in the film and applaud her actions at the end. As far as the rest of them, I couldn’t stand them. Although the original Dawn of the Dead is hands-down my favorite Romero flick, I could barely sit through the remake.

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Day of the Dead (2008)

Important note:  

A few caveats: Just because a movie had living dead or of the dead in the title did not mean that it had anything to do with any of the series.  Movies such as  Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane fall into this category. These films are not part of the canon! Understanding which movies belong in the established body of work keep you from being duped by fakes like this one:

The 28 Days Later Series:

The 28 Days series updates the zombie film genre. Outbreaks are spread by virus and it is murderous rage that consumes our zombies. They also move amazingly fast. It is fairly common anymore to see comparisons between slow, Romero-style zombies and those that move fast as in 28 Days Later.

28 Days Later (2003)

28 Weeks Later (2007)

The next film in the series, 28 Months Later will be out in 2011.

The Resident Evil Series:

Okay, I know that you have to take a movie franchise that is based on a video game with a grain of salt, but when I started watching Resident Evil series, I was surprised at how good the first movie was. They really are must see movies for the zombie purist.

Resident Evil (Deluxe Edition)

Resident Evil – Apocalypse (AKA Nemesis) (2004)

Resident Evil – Extinction (2007)

Return of the Living Dead

A comedy zombie series makes the cut? Yes, indeed. And the reason? One word: Braaaaiiins! Chances are, if you are a zombie aficionado, you will find at least the first two of these movies delightful.  (Three starts to get a little darker, and rumor has it that 4 and 5 are just bad!)

A note for horror buffs: 1985’s Return of the Living Dead feature actress Linnea Quigley, known as the Queen of the Screams. Her performance  is a classic.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) (1985)

Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis (2005) and Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave (2005)

Another movie that is considered to be a comedy zombie classic is Shaun of the Dead (2004) I have to confess, I didn’t get this flick. Not until I saw the end. And not until seeing it a few times.  But I do find the end of the film  hysterically funny. I so totally recognize my son and his best friend since kindergarten in the ending sequence.

Some of you may notice that I left Zombielandoff the list.  While many are considering this to be a modern classic, especially with sequels in the works, I was disappointed in the film.  You can read my review here.

This list is just a beginning list of what I consider some of the classics. Different people have different fims that make their “Top” lists. On the web, you can find lists of  top 20 zombie films and even a Wiki list of over 300 zombie films.  And there are films like The Evil dead that have reanimated dead that some people think should belong on the lists  of zombie films (I personally don’t).

Next up, we are going to be looking at zombies in books. By the way… Did you know that Brad Pitt will play the journalist in a film based on Max Brooks World War Z? 

Study Hints for the test:

There are some classic lines from some of these films that are so well-known, that they will be on the test! Lines like:

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

“When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

And of course, the classic, “Braaaaiiins!”

Can you think of any others? Or do you have a favorite line or scene from one of these films?

A Zombie Primer

Tomorrow on this blog we are going to look in earnest at teaching aids for combating a zombie apocalypse.  But in the meantime, I thought that some might benefit from additional information that gives perspective and background for what you will need to learn to survive.

If you are unfamiliar with zombies, you might think that the idea of a zombie outbreak is pretty far-fetched. Au contraire, mon ami, the basic course of an outbreak has actually been clearly laid out.  To understand the generally expected scenario, read How Everything Goes to Hell in a Zombie Apocalypse.  This graphic depiction  shows the usual course of events in a zombie infestation. Remember, this is a typical outbreak; your area’s specific outbreak may vary considerably.

However, there is one important fact that holds true in all zombie infestations: If you are bitten, you will die and reanimate as a zombie! Your primary concern in a zombie apocalypse is to avoid being bitten!

Those unfamiliar with the magnitude of zombie lore that exists are usually surprised to see just how exactly how far science has come in studying this phenomenon. Advanced statistical studies have been done on survival rates, and scientists can even accurately calculate the length of time someone will survive after being bitten.

And a final warning:  There is no such thing as a safe zombie, as the following video shows:

Up tomorrow, Zombies in film….

Zombie Awareness Week

No, it is not marked on the calendar or anything (although there is a zombie awareness week in Australia). It is just that it has come to my attention that some of my readers are not as well versed as they should be concerning zombies. 

Since this is a matter of public safety that concerns all of us, I have taken it upon myself to do a bit of educational zombie posting this week to try to get those at the bottom of the class up to speed.  We are going to be looking at books, film, video, news and more to help round out your knowledge of the undead.    Those of you who are familiar with zombies, their spread and the various methods of eradication may consider this a review.

Please pay attention and take notes: There WILL be a quiz at the end of the week!

I thought it best to begin with the bare minimum of information that each of us should be aware of.  Of course, we need look no further than our own government for this basic information, offered in the form of a PSA (Public Service Announcement):

Any questions?

UndeadintheHead.com interviews zombie author David Moody

Okay zombie lovers, there is a great interview with David  Moody, author of the Autumn series of zombie books on UndeadintheHead.com.    The interview is full of interesting stuff, including tasty tidbits on the re-release of the Autumn series (unfortunately, it is currently out of print), The Autumnmovie as well as info on his book Hater, its sequel Dog Blood and more!

I have always thought that David Moody has never received enough credit for his contribution to the zombie genre.  Although I had been a fan of zombie movies since Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, Autumn was one of the first zombie books that I read.  The book was instrumental in convincing me that zombies weren’t just a subject for film.  

Interviewer Lyle Perez does a great job with the article.  And while you’re reading the Moody piece, check out the book reviews and other interviews on UndeadintheHead.  It’s good stuff!

Day by Day Armageddon: A Review

31I6DaHu2aL__SL160_J.L. Bourne’s Day by Day Armageddon is a interesting book that tells the story of the zombie apocalypse from the point of view of a military officer who is struggling to survive it. The novel originally began as a series of blog entries by the author that gained quite an audience on the web.  The book was then self published and eventually picked up by Pocket Books.

The reactions to the book are certainly polarized; people either love it or hate it.   There are certain criticisms that seem to come up repeatedly regarding this book.  Among them are:

People compare it to World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks: I can’t tell you how many times I have read, “I read World War Z and liked it, so I thought I’d read this one….”  In this case, this is a recipe for disappointment.  I think that Max Brooks’ book is absolutely brilliant, and it is certainly at the top of my zombie reading list, but the book is really atypical for the genre.  Just because a person likes one doesn’t mean that they will necessarily like the other. DBDA should not be criticized for NOT being like World War Z.

People say it lacks character development: The criticism that there is no character development is also somewhat unwarranted. Because the main character’s nature is not really effusive (he’s a military man, remember?), much of what is written in the book is about events, rather than feelings. Often, the feelings about the events are not stated directly and generally do need to be  inferred.  Other times, the feelings are very direct and evocative, such as when the main character wonders if his parents have survived or if he could manage to get to their home to check on them.  Throughout the book, the characters do act in ways that are consistent with their nature.

I think that part of the difficulty in perceiving the development stems from both the lack of a baseline and the limitations of the journal format.  In the book, the narrator starts keeping the journal right as the zombie outbreak begins.  We have very little material written before the outbreak which means we have little information with which to judge any level of character growth. 

People say it has an extremely boring plot: I personally find criticism that the plot of this book is boring to be somewhat amusing.  Rather than having a frantic paced activity level, the author (very effectively, in my opinion) uses inactivity to good effect to create tension. By using prolonged waiting to get the reader to almost a fever pitch, it heightens the suspense. Because of that, there are parts in this book that are so suspenseful, they are scary.

The journal format itself is, as others have noted, both problematic and limited and may help foster the idea of a slow moving plot.  Most zombie movies and books are usually told in the present tense.  A journal would of necessity be written after the events in question have already happened. A certain immediacy is lost because of this. And since DBDA is predominantly a survival story,  the author is more concerned with telling a story about survival than he is with telling a story about zombies.  Typically in a zombie book, there are lots of scenes of people getting eaten by zombies, and like the films, much of the emphasis is on blood and gore.  In this book, the author seems to pay more attention to describing the MREs, guns and ammo than he does the zombies.

People say it is too full of typos and grammar errors:  There are definitely two schools of thought on this one.  Some people think that the grammar errors are deliberate; others think that they are examples of extremely poor writing/proofing/editing.  I myself am torn on this one.  The author’s website and Twitter entries are generally grammatically correct.  However, the book contains numerous instances of poor punctuation and spelling (such as “putting on the breaks” instead of “putting on the brakes”).  I have never in my life been so tempted to take a red pen to a book and would have loved to introduce the author to the proper use of the comma and the semicolon. And I read the book on a Kindle!

If these errors are deliberate, it would be extremely helpful for the author to note that in a forward to a future edition.

People say the ending is horrible: I have to agree that I do not like the ending to the book at all. Without spoiling the ending, all I can say is that it ends too abruptly and that it could have been handled in a much better way.

Despite the some of the issues with the book, this is an interesting and compelling read that is enjoyable.  If you are a true fan of the zombie genre,  this book is too important to miss. A sequel, Day By Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile,  is currently in the works and is due to be released in July of 2010.

You can learn more about the series at the author’s website,  http://jlbourne.com/.  You can also follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jlbourne.