Okay, seriously…have you seen the new Kong? For starters though, i’ll admit I’m rather late to the party. However, as I had the gumption to finally watch the latest of Kong movies, Kong: Skull Island, I felt compelled to write down some of my thoughts regarding said movie. There are no spoilers here, per say. Kong holds no mystery that hasn’t already been shown in the many previews and trailers that came out prior to the movie’s release. So, I don’t feel bad talking about it.
Here’s a synopsis provided by Vudu:
When a scientific expedition to an uncharted island awakens titanic forces of nature, a mission of discovery becomes an explosive war between monster and man. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly star in a thrilling and original adventure that reveals the untold story of how Kong became King.
The purpose of all synopsis’, be it book or movie, is to give the would-be audience a small taste of what’s to come without revealing a whole heck of a lot about what they’re about to get into. But as far as synopsis’ go, the one provided by Vudu isn’t too shabby. Filled with awesome action-ny moments and silhouettes of the famed beast. What it doesn’t reveal though is the personal stories that are wrapped up in the (forgive the pun) monster of a movie. Allow me…
Skull Island opens in the year 1944. The world is still at war for the second time and we watch as an American jet fighter comes crashing down to earth while the pilot parachutes not far away. But he’s not alone. Crashing into the sand a moment later, and parachuting as well, is a Japanese pilot. The two had been apparently dog-fighting in the skies above the island and are ready to finish the job, except neither of them are any good at killing the other. The battle ensues over a cliff overlooking a wondrous jungle that looks like something out of Jurassic Park. The death duel is interrupted by the arrival of the star of the movie, Kong.
This opening scene is important, but we’ll get back to that…
Rolling along, the timeline jumps as the opening credits is filled with historic film clips from Truman to Eisenhower to Kennedy to LBJ to Nixon, juxtaposed with scenes of scientists working around the clock to bring us modern miracles. With dashes of civil unrest to spice things up. Basically summarizing how great humanity is and how far advanced we are, despite the fact that we still end up in wars trying to kill each other.
Following the credits, the year is now 1972…or 74, I can’t quite remember. Bill Randa (played by the always wonderful John Goodman), along with scientist Houston Brooks, convinces a Senator to fund an expedition to a recently discovered island. As we quickly discover, Randa is a bit of a wash out, having worked for this particular secret sector within the U.S. Government since after WWII, but having yet to produce any evidence, nothing of empirical data to show that he’s not some crack pot. You can understand the motivation he would have to prove he isn’t insane. That he when he was a young seaman had seen something unexplainable. And you might even empathize, a little. But for me, while I will always enjoy seeing Goodman on screen, I didn’t totally get his character. Strangely enough, while Goodman’s character is truly the catalysis that sets things in motion, his story isn’t the message playing out.
In the midst of the deal with the Senator, Goodman requests a military escort to the island…for, you know, exploration and shit. As the year is 1970-something, you can safely assume he’s going to get a platoon of badass Vietnam War soldiers. And not just any ole soldiers. He’s getting the modern cavalry, the mobile infantry, Air Cav, baby. AND, not just that, but he’s getting Lt. Colonel Packard (played by the very ageless Sam L. Jackson) who’s simply not ready to hang his awards on the wall, so to speak. The war, as he says, was not lost but abandoned, thus being assigned to this “expedition” mission is just the thing he needs to keep the dream alive. Packard reminds me a lot of a mix between Kilgore from Apocalypse Now and Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.
Kong isn’t without its overused tropes. Tom Hiddleston’s character (Capt. Conrad) as the gristle tough guy specialist feels very overplayed and it doesn’t take a much more handsome fellow such as myself to figure out why Tom’s even in Kong in the first place. Hiddleston is a popular actor who’s no doubt willing to spread his acting wings away from Marvel whenever he can. He’s not without his charm, I’ll give him that. And he does bring some value to the plot, as a former solider who lost his father in another war went to war to find answers and walked away empty handed only to be recruited for a very bizarre mission. Yup. He also has a line later on in the movie that caught my attention as being actually deep and meaningful. He says:
“No one really comes back from war, not really.”
Its a sentiment that I’ve struggled with personally as a Iraqi War veteran. Did I come back from war? Conrad’s not just talking about lost father’s, the ones that physically never returned, he’s also talking about the one’s who did make it back, but not in the way they were before. Something about them is changed. War changed them. And sometimes letting go of that war is the hardest thing a solider can do. Somethings cannot be let go. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of my wife and family, and the use of writing to help me cope with the trauma of living without a war…because that’s what it boils down to, right?
Anyways, back to our review…
Another annoyance I found with the movie was how the “Skull” island had remained undiscovered. Surrounding it is a perpetual storm, an never ending hurricane. Ships don’t go there. The ones that do, never return, etc. etc. Its a cool effect, for sure, but felt very unrealistic. Yes. Yes. I know. We’re talking about a movie starring a giant mythical gorilla-like creature. Still…there has to be some anchoring of reality to pull off the spectacular and I felt the way they shielded the island was kinda tacked on and quickly skimmed over. Maybe I missed something, but I think they could have done something a little different and not so strangely dramatic. Couldn’t the island had been simply uncharted?
What really works is the pacing. Kong doesn’t allow for too many pauses. There isn’t some huge build up of searching the island for this mythical creature. He practically shows up within seconds of the squad of helicopters flying through the canopy dropping “seismic” bombs. And when Kong arrives, he is really pissed. Smashing whirley-birds until none remain. The survivors are spread out and quickly try to regroup. Some never do. As Kilgore, I mean Packard collects the dog-tags of his fallen men, his course of action swiftly evolves into a mission of revenge. The rest just want to go home, but as good soldiers, they’ll follow their commander to the bitter end.
As this is a spoiler free review, I’ll let you find out the rest on your own. However, I do want to touch on John C. Reilly’s character as the thirty-something year marooned fighter pilot. In the previews they show a snippet of him, but in the movie he actually has a huuuuge part. With the snippets I feared he was going to be an over the top obvious comic relief trope; he’s not. Yes, he’s strange and silly and Reilly plays the part perfectly, but there’s something more to him. It’s part of the message that has been building up throughout the movie. In the last scene (the after credits scene doesn’t count as its just publicity for the growing franchise), as the end credits roll, Reilly, after thirty some years on Skull Island, is finally reunited with his wife and son. There’s no dialogue here, you just…watch. And its fantastic. Some never return home from war, but he did.
There’s a trinity to this message. Packard represents the extreme right, that is the solider unwilling to “let things go.” Reilly’s character (the marooned Hank Marlow) is the extreme left, wanting nothing more than to “let things go.” And then we have Captain Conrad, Tom’s character, as the solider seeking answers. Its a classic method of storytelling and it works extraordinarily well in the movie. And its kinda surprising too, to find this level of metaphor and message in a movie about a giant ape.
There is a lot more that was left out here, but why ruin the experience? Go and find out what’s really going on on Skull Island for yourselves. It’s probably not what you think. For me, it was a highly enjoyable period piece with a deeper core message than most give credit. Oh, and there are giant creatures that wreck shop with stunning graphics and loads of action.
My rating: 5/5
Francine Parker: They’re still here.
Stephen: They’re after us. They know we’re still in here.
Peter: They’re after the place. They don’t know why; they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.
Francine Parker: What the hell are they?
Peter: They’re us, that’s all, when there’s no more room in hell.
Peter: Something my granddad used to tell us. You know Macumba? Vodou. My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us, “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”
Dawn of the Dead is among many things a very quotable movie. The scene above is probably everyone’s favorite, and some other more selective scenes to nibble from. Scientists arguing on what remains of the news broadcast. The SWAT incursion of the Philadelphia apartment building. The refueling scene, the dock scene, the shopping montage. The raiders and ensuing firefight. There are plenty. And if you were to ask me, I can’t really say if I personally have an all-time favorite scene, I mean let’s be honest here, there are so many to choose from. From the very beginning, Dawn of the Dead lures you in and keeps your attention rooted into the story. The pacing couldn’t be more perfect.
But before we delve any further, let’s get one of those sweet sweet IMBd synopsis’:
“Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.”
Okay, well…not bad. Not bad except for one fundamental thing. This synopsis violates one of the Laws of Romeroism. Also, btw, Romeroism is basically as it sounds, the rules or laws set in pace by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead) as the originator of the “zombie” sub-genre as we know it today, that is the undead consuming the flesh of the living. Please see the following link for a complete detailed list of all the Laws of Romeroism. So which “law” did the synopsis violate? In Romeroesque zombie movies, the zombies are never called zombies…except for that one time in Land of the Dead when Dennis Hopper’s character says, “Zombies…they freak me out, man.”
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The round-about point being that Dawn of the Dead was Romero’s second film, the one in which he began establishing the rules for his “zombies.” In Night of the Living Dead, he had (at the time) no idea that he was creating an entirely new sub-genre in horror, that his “ghouls” would eventually become more popular than that of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon (Gillman), and the Invisible Man, the pillars of horror themselves.
Dawn of the Dead was also the first “dead film” in which Romero wrote and directed without the help of his friend and partner from Night of the Living Dead, John Russo. I’m not entirely sure what caused the split, but in an interview with Lee Karr in 2009, this is what George had to say regarding Russo:
“I love John, I still love John. John is the most practical guy – you can have a conversation with John about anything, politics, movies, whatever. Anything he says you may not agree with it, but he’s got a practical approach to it…and there fore you can never defeat his arguments, even though you would like to! I just wish John would cut a couple of chords and loosen himself up a little bit. I think he is too strict on himself and he chooses a business approach. I think he could have been a superstar, but he took the safer route. He bet the red-black, instead of ever putting it on number 17.”
Looking back at Dawn of the Dead, one can see the amount of risk George A. Romero put in to make this film. Dawn remained independent yet upped the budget that Night of the Living Dead had from 114,000 to 650,000. And Dawnwould go on to gross over 5 million at the box office. Not only was Dawn a “home run” in terms of investment, but over the years it has remained in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide, earning itself a place within the lexicon of cult classics. Even infamous critic Roger Ebert said Dawn was, “one of the best horror films ever made — and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling.”
Watching Dawn of the Dead, one cannot escape the lure of the story. From the very get-go, we want to know what’s going on. The first scene opens with a shot of red carpet and leading lady Francine Parker (played by Gaylen Ross) waking from a nightmare into a more literal nightmare. She’s at a news-station, and the news ain’t good (is it ever?). People are frantic, running every which way, barely holding on to whatever discipline they have left. Most have fled, as Stephen (played by David Emge) quips, “someone must survive.” Francine seems determined to do her duty, and that is to broadcast as long as possible, but in the end let’s go on the career she undoubtedly worked hard to build.
From the news station, we cut to an apartment building in Philadelphia (really in Pittsburgh) as a SWAT team readies to raid and dispose of the collected “dead” the residents have refused to hand over to the “proper” authorities. Martial law has apparently been given and the order stands that all “dead” must be properly “disposed” of. But as it seems, some still honor the dead, as I think Peter (played by Ken Foree) says later on during the raid. The most startling moment here is not when the brown makeup faced “Puerto Ricoian” comes running out only to get gunned down, but the small cracks in the demeanor of some of the SWAT members, most notably when “Woolie’s gone ape shit, man.” There’s also a more foreboding scene with the one-legged priest, as he says:
“Many have died, last week, on these streets. In the basement of this building, you will find them. I have given them the last rites. Now, you do what you will. You are stronger than us. But soon, I think they be stronger than you. When the dead walk, señores, we must stop the killing… or lose the war…”
What is the priest talking about here? Just the undead in the apartment building, or something more? See, this is when horror really shines, when it forces audiences to ask the questions they typically avoid asking. This scene takes about less than a minute to play out, but the ramification of what was said are everlasting. And there are more questions that will be asked as Dawn of the Deadcontinues. From the apartment building, we’re taken near the docks where Stephen and Francine prepare the News Helicopter for their impromptu escape from the city. If your watching the Uncut edition, there are some added scenes here. As Stephen radios, the “post has been abandoned.” But not everyone had fled. The couple have a close shave with another party who have thoughts of running. A group of surviving police, as it would seem, with a notable actor who will make a return appearance in Day of the Dead, though not as the same character, are poised to take more than their share, giving Stephen a “hard time” for taking “company” fuel. Luckily, Roger and Peter arrive and chase the “bad men” away.
Our group escape the city unscathed and as they are flying around looking for refuge, they pass over another group of what we might imagine from the end of Night of the Living Dead, a hodgepodge collection of military, police, huntsmen, various first responders and country locals, all banded together. One might feel safe with them, as the saying goes, there is safety in numbers, right? Except for the odd sensation, the way they treat the dead or undead, playing around with them, wrestling with them, lynching them up in trees and using them as target practice. What does their actions say about the human condition? That we demonize our enemies and thus become demons ourselves, perhaps?
After another close shave fueling up, the group passes over an abandoned mall. They’ve been flying for hours now and are in need of rest. There’s an upstairs area that seems isolated from the rest of the mall and so they decided to make camp. But after spending some time there, thoughts of looting and pillaging consume them, all but Francine who wants nothing more than to continue north. The boys get a sort of consumerist fever, that everything in the mall could be theirs if only they had the gumption to take it. And they do, they plan how to cut off the flow of undead from coming into the complex and work at removing those already inside. Roger (played by Scott H. Reiniger) is bitten during an episode he has, cracking up just like Woolie had at the beginning. And it really forces the question, was it all worth it? Sure, they get the spoils, there’s even a fun little montage of them enjoying their hard fought gains. Eventually the fun wears thin and after Roger passes away, comes back, and is killed again, the sting is felt on the faces of the characters. As Francine says:
“Stephen, I’m afraid. You’re hypnotized by this place. All of you! You don’t see that it’s not a sanctuary, it’s a prison! Let’s just take what we need and get out of here!”
Eventually raiders stumble upon the mall and more deaths follow. In the end, the mall is abandoned and we’re left wondering was it worth it? Stephen could have listened to Peter and just let the raiders take what they wanted and go, but no. He became possessive, hypnotized by the lore of stuff, of ownership, even though they never really owned any of it. And what good did any of that stuff do? What could they do with it? Trade? Barter? What hole did the mall fill for those characters? Looking at the mall from a survivors perspective, it certainly had a feeling of security, four walls and all and plenty of space to run and escape. But as proved by the raiders, the mall is a high target. Protecting a bunch of stuff they can’t even really use seems pointless, why not just take what they need and continue north as Francine wanted? What was the attraction of staying?
Personally speaking, I think it was the normalcy the mall offered. Stephen and Peter both quipped that the reason why the undead were coming to the mall was because it was a place of importance to them, something they “remembered.” Yet, there they were too. For shelter, at first, yes. But they stayed for another reason, to “play house,” as Stephen said to Francine when he was trying to convince her why they should stay at the mall. The mall had “everything they needed…” but did it really?
Dawn of the Dead was selected as the last film to be reviewed for this year’s zombie themed Fright Fest because it is the fundamental “be-all” for a zombie movie. Fighting words for some, I’m sure. But few can deny the impact Dawn has had on the sub-genre and the continuingly growing culture surrounding the film. Dawn of the Dead is my personal favorite horror film, second only to John Carpenter’s The Thing. Why? Well… Romero didn’t rush the progression of the story, clocking in over two hours of gory storytelling, which I favor. The length and pace to me feel natural and wonderfully nihilistic. Not only giving us horror fans all the blood and guts we could have want for, but also giving us something else to chew on, all the various questions raised concerning humanity and concerning ourselves.
My rating: 5/5
Originally publishing on MachineMean.org
Fright Fest 2017
“In a time where our culture is saturated with zombies, Flowers manages to keep this book fresh, with superb character development, unique concepts (for example, there is a chapter written completely from a dog’s perspective, and I am looking forward to finding out more about those on a space station – something I never thought about before), and surprising deaths” -Jason Berry, Amazon Reviewer.
Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a few scary books to read. In the spirit of the holiday, my paranormal thriller series under Limitless Publishing (The Subdue Books) are being severely slashed. There are freebies and cheapies to be had here. But read at your own risk!
Book 1 in the Subdue Series, a paranormal thriller.
Book 2 in the Subdue Series, a paranormal thriller
Book 3 in the Subdue Series, a paranormal thriller
Book 4 in the Subdue Series, a paranormal thriller.
Halloween is almost here. And what better hangout than the graveyard. As a Romero purist, I’ve found zombie flicks outside Romeroism rules to be…meh. However, there are a select few that defy zombie prejudice. Let’s chat a bit about Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead. Now, it is important to distinguish who the director of the film is, versus who it had been, and the writers involved with the project as well. Believe it or not, Return of Living Dead has a sort of complicated history. What started out as a sequel to Night of the Living Dead by legendary George A. Romero co-creator John Russo, when Russo and Romero parted ways after 1968 , according to the documentary provided in the newly released Shout! Factory Return of The Living Dead [Blu-Ray], Russo was able to retain the rights to use “Living Dead,” while Romero was free to work on his sequels to the original film.
However, when slotted director Tobe Hooper backed out to work on Lifeforce, producers brought on Dan “The Man” O’Bannon to not only polish the script but also to assume the directorial seat. O’Bannon agreed to the job under the condition he could radically alter the original Russo script. I’m not sure what Russo’s script was exactly, but given that he had written the story coming off of Night of the Living Dead, it was probably more serious in tone and akin to the work of George A. Romero. When O’Bannon took the reins, he did not want to produce something that resembled anything Romero had done or was working on. Understandable considering Romero’s zombie trilogy (Night, Dawn, Day) had all been released before Return hit theaters in August 1985. He wanted something his own and completely unique. While Russo remained credited, I do not think much of his original story remained in the final product. This film was very much O’Bannon’s , a living legacy to the late great director.
Before we continue with this review. How about a synopsis?
When foreman Frank (James Karen) shows new employee Freddy (Thom Mathews) a secret military experiment in a supply warehouse, the two klutzes accidentally release a gas that reanimates corpses into flesh-eating zombies. Frank and Freddy seek the help of their boss (Clu Gulager) and a mysterious mortician (Don Calfa) to dispose of the remains of a still twitching cadaver. When the smoke from the crematoria rolls over the nearby cemetery, the undead wake and mayhem ensues and a group of punk rocker friends hanging out in the graveyard for their buddy Freddy must fight to survive the growing shambling horde of undead fiends.
Admittedly, growing up and still somewhat today, I was very much a Romero-purist. My first horror love was Night of the Living Dead which my older sister introduced me to during one of our customary Friday night movie binges. I heard about Return of the Living Dead, but never really gave it much thought in watching. I did watch Return of the Living Dead III back in the 90s when I was working at Blockbuster and rented the sucker on VHS. I was not impressed with that one in the least and assumed at that point that all Returns were just as dumb. I’m not one to shy away admitting when I’m wrong. And I was certainly wrong about the original Return of the Living Dead (1985). For the life of me, I cannot remember when I first watched Return of the Living Dead…but it had to have been within the last few years. Regardless, I was wrong. You heard it here first, folks. I WAS WRONG.
Despite the horror-comedy hijinks versus the very serious undertones of Romero’s work, Return of the Living Dead was a wonderfully fangtastic flick. While Romero may have the social commentary in the bag with his films, we cannot discredit the cultural significance of Return. The movie is bleak and ironic on a massive scale. The most obvious moment, of course, is the atomic-sized end (SPOILERS). Those characters fight and struggle and deal with so much bullshit and so much death to finally contact the Army for help and then get nuked only to see the same contaminated smoke rolling over new graves is laughably and wonderfully nihilistic.
In the end, we’re left to ask, “What was the point?” Much as what any decent horror does, it doesn’t answer questions to how we should go about doing things or solving difficult problems. Good horror movies force us to face our deepest darkest questions about ourselves. And that it what Return of the Living Dead precisely did, though not in the serious way most Romero fans are used to, but in an over-the-top parody of itself. My favorite scene in the entire movie was when Frank realizes that he’s about turn into a zombie. He decides to sneak past his friends and climb inside the crematoria, immolating himself, rather than become one of the undead. Rumor is, actor James Karen didn’t want to join the other zombies extras outside in the cold ass prop-rain and asked if he could “go out” this way instead. Whatever really happened as to the reason, the addition of that scene adds to the wonderful bleakness of the movie.
Since the film’s original August 16, 1985, release, Return of the Living Dead has spread into a huuuuuge cult following. Most of the zombie-culture today gives thanks to this film over Romero’s work. Whenever you hear someone moan, “Braiiiinnnsss,” it’s thanks to this horror-comedy flick. There’s even a Simpson’s TreeHouse of Horror episode dedicated to Return of the Living Dead, the parody being when the zombies are hunting for brains, they pass over Homer Simpson. And domestically, the evidence is clear on which film audiences preferred. Romero’s Day of the Dead grossed around $5.8 million, while Return of the Living Dead grossed around $14 million in 1985. And don’t get me started on the soundtrack. As far as movie soundtracks go, Return has one of the more memorable and fun lists of bands to jive to while trick-or-treaters are ringing your bell. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to. If not for the cultural significance, then for the fun, over-the-top zombie gags, and punker hilariousness.
My Rating: 5/5
I think we can all agree that the world of zombie fiction is saturated. Not that we mind, right? What’s more fun then feasting on some gory undead fiction? Still, like a line from Ecclesiastes, it certainly feels like there is nothing new that can be added that hasn’t already been done. Outside the community of zombie enthusiasts, most have given up on the horror sub-genre (if they had ever invested in it to begin with remains questionable). That being said, there’s some truth on the side of the pessimistics. Zombie fiction…well…be it movie or book, there’s a lot out there. And though there’s a lot of available material to quench our ghoulish appetites, not all of it is good. So, how do we tell what’s worth investing not only our time but also our money?
Kinda sad to say, there are those itching to take advantage of fans of The Walking Dead, George A. Romero, Max Brooks, and other well known proprietors of zombie fiction. With so much material out there, it could make any super-fan-person giddy. But as mentioned there are publishers with little to no real appreciation of our beloved horror trope. So, as a way of helping avoid the snare of these market tappers, I have devised a list of best of’s pulled from real reads of zombie fiction. A majority of the books included here came from reader suggestions from the Facebook group “Reading Zombie.” Enjoy!
Survive the infection. Survive the Infected.
A new strain of the flu is spreading across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Disturbing scenes are flooding social media and the 24-hour news channels. People are worried. They’re frightened.
Too many dismiss the stories as infotainment hype.
But the virus is here. It’s running through the alleys and clawing its way into the suburbs. And it’s in your parents’ living room, in the veins of a deranged man murdering your mother.
Do you run? Do you freeze in fright? Or do you fight?
The Slow Burn Series
Book 1 – Zero Day
Book 2 – Infected
Book 3 – Destroyer
Book 4 – Dead Fire
Book 5 – Torrent
Book 6 – Bleed
Book 7 – City of Stin
Book 8 – Grind
Book 9 – Sanctum
Start the adventure.
A relentless thrill ride. . . Break out the popcorn, you’re in for a real treat. –Harry Shannon, author of Dead and Gone
Battered by five cataclysmic hurricanes in three weeks, the Texas Gulf Coast and half of the Lone Star State is reeling from the worst devastation in history. Thousands are dead or dying–but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life–with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. . .
The Nightmare Begins
Within hours, the plague has spread all over Texas. San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds his city overrun by a voracious army of the living dead. Along with a small group of survivors, Eddie must fight off the savage horde in a race to save his family. . .
Hell On Earth
There’s no place to run. No place to hide. The zombie horde is growing as the virus runs rampant. Eddie knows he has to find a way to destroy these walking horrors. . .but he doesn’t know the price he will have to pay. . .
“Hair-raising. Do yourself a favor and snag a copy. . . thank me later.” –Gene O’Neill, author of Deathflash
“A merciless, fast-paced and genuinely scary read that will leave you absolutely breathless.” –Brian Keene
It was a flu season like no other. With the H1N1 virus running rampant throughout the country, people lined up in droves to try and attain one of the coveted vaccines. What was not known was the effect this largely untested, rushed to market, inoculation was to have on the unsuspecting throngs. Within days, feverish folk throughout the country convulsed, collapsed, and died, only to be reborn. With a taste for brains, blood, and bodies, these modern-day zombies scoured the lands for their next meal. Overnight the country became a killing ground for the hordes of zombies that ravaged the land.
This is the story of Michael Talbot, his family, and his friends: a band of ordinary people trying to get by in extraordinary times. When disaster strikes, Mike, a self-proclaimed survivalist, does his best to ensure the safety and security of those he cares for. Book one of the Zombie Fallout Trilogy follows our lead character at his self-deprecating, sarcastic best. What he encounters along the way leads him down a long dark road, always skirting the edge of insanity.
Can he keep his family safe? Can he discover the secret behind Tommy’s powers? Can he save anyone from the zombie queen? Encircled in a seemingly safe haven called Little Turtle, Mike and his family, together with the remnants of a tattered community, must fight against a relentless, ruthless, unstoppable force. This last bastion of civilization has made its final stand. God help them all.
In 1968, the world experienced a brand-new kind of terror with the debut of George A. Romero’s landmark movie Night of the Living Dead. The newly dead rose to attack the living. Not as vampires or werewolves. This was something new . . . and terrifying. Since then, zombies have invaded every aspect of popular culture.
But it all started on that dreadful night in a remote farmhouse. . . .
Nights of the Living Dead returns to that night, to the outbreak, to where it all began. New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry teams with the godfather of the living dead himself, George A. Romero, to present a collection of all-new tales set during the forty-eight hours of that legendary outbreak.
Nights of the Living Dead includes stories by some of today’s most important writers: Brian Keene, Carrie Ryan, Chuck Wendig, Craig E. Engler, David J. Schow, David Wellington, Isaac Marion, Jay Bonansinga, Joe R. Lansdale, John A. Russo, John Skipp, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Max Brallier, Mike Carey, Mira Grant, Neal and Brenda Shusterman, and Ryan Brown. Plus original stories by Romero and Maberry!
For anyone who loves scary stories, take a bite out of this!
Dark of Night:
The dead rose. We fell.
The survivors are trapped in a world of monsters who prey on the helpless. Some of them are zombies…but they are not the only predators who feed on pain and suffering.
DARK OF NIGHT is a story of worlds in collision. Three heroes who have survived the apocalypse are in a deadly race to save a busload of children from ravenous zombies and ruthless human scavengers.
This brand new novella brings together three of New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry’s award-winning novel series.
Captain Joe Ledger (PATIENT ZERO and CODE ZERO), Officer Desdemona Fox (DEAD OF NIGHT and FALL OF NIGHT), and Rachael Elle (BITS & PIECES, a Rot & Ruin novel) are caught between an endless wave of the living dead and an army of corrupt men who want to enslave the last human survivors.
Jonathan Maberry teams with debut novelist Rachael Lavin to tell a sweeping story of adventure, horror, and heroism.
Flesh and Fire:
In the midst of a midlife crisis, Todd is haunted by Chloe, the lover who died not long after their relationship ended. When Chloe escapes Hell in search of the peaceful rest that has eluded her, a demon named Samael is on her trail and she needs Todd’s help.
While on the run Todd and Chloe face demons real and personal, soul-threatening danger, and their long-buried feelings for each other.
The series is now complete!
So Long, Lollipops (Book 1.5 – novella): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ILKGJ6U
And After (Book 2): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KBWPHA0
All the Stars in the Sky (Book 3): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SW4K268
Cassie Forrest isn’t surprised to learn that the day she’s decided to get her life together is also the day the world ends. After all, she’s been on a self-imposed losing streak since her survivalist parents died: she’s stopped painting, broken off her engagement to Adrian and dated a real jerk. Rectifying her mistakes has to wait, however, because Cassie and her friends have just enough time to escape Brooklyn for her parents’ cabin before Bornavirus LX turns them into zombies, too.
This is difficult enough, but Cassie’s tag along ex-boyfriend and her friend’s bratty sister have a knack for making everything, even the apocalypse, more unpleasant. When the two attract a threat as deadly as the undead to their safe haven, Cassie’s forced to see how far she’ll go to protect those she loves. And it’s a lot farther than she’d anticipated. This, coupled with Adrian’s distant voice on Safe Zone Radio and, of course, the living dead, threaten to put Cassie right back into the funk she just dragged herself out of.
Survival’s great and all, especially when you have leather armor, good friends and home-brewed beer, but there’s something Cassie must do besides survive: tell Adrian she still loves him. And to do that, Cassie has to find faith that she’s stronger than she thinks, she’s still a crack shot and true love never dies.
There is no sanctuary.
That was taken away in the blink of an eye. Humanity went out not with a whimper, but a bang.
Jack, a sometimes humorous, sometimes philosophical ex-special operations pilot and soldier is one of the few left to struggle through the desolation left in the aftermath; seeking to survive as a new ferocious species emerges from the rubble, hungry and unrelenting. Will his special forces training be enough? Will he be able to keep his children safe and guide the few survivors through perils that now roam the world they once knew? Or will the hordes that now own the night prevail, forever removing the last of mankind from existence? Humankind was once at the top of the food chain. But that has now changed.
This hard-hitting, action-packed series begins with Jack Walker being suddenly thrust into a world where the infrastructure which cherished Armani suits, night clubs, fast and expensive cars and watching the daily stock market are gone. Left in its place is the material world mankind built but a majority of the population has vanished; replaced by a new, savage, unrelenting, cunning, animalistic species which hunts and operates at night.
The classic that helped start a pop culture phenomenon – back in print and UNCUT!
Since it’s 2003 debut, Brian Keene’s THE RISING is one of the best-selling zombie novels of all-time. It has been translated into over a dozen languages, inspired the works of other authors and filmmakers, and has become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans.
THE RISING is the story of Jim Thurmond, a determined father battling his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie landscape, to find his young son. Accompanied by Martin, a preacher still holding to his faith, and Frankie, a recovering heroin addict with an indomitable will to survive, Jim travels from state to state and town to town, facing an endless onslaught of undead hordes, and the evils perpetrated by his fellow man.
This brand-new, author’s preferred edition, restores nearly 30,000 words of material that was cut from the original edition. These new chapters, which have never been seen by anyone before now, expand the original story, adding new depths to characters and more horrific situations.
You may think you’ve read THE RISING, but you haven’t read it all until you read this edition!
Deadite Press is proud to present this uncut, author’s preferred edition, which also includes a lengthy essay by the author about the novel’s genesis and history.
The Undead. The number one award winning and bestselling UK zombie horror series.
A deadly infection spreads across Europe.
The Undead Series: A terrifying account of one man desperately struggling to survive this harrowing event.
Visit rrhaywood.com for more about the author.
“5 stars isn’t enough! Far and away the best zombie series around!”
“This is a sure-fire, cult hit of a series ”
“One of the best series out there and one of the best authors of this genre – totally gripping and will have you at the edge of your seat.”
“each and every book will leave you begging for the next one.”
“each one is a masterpiece all on its own.”
“Another amazing instalment.”
“Haywood sure is improving like a fine wine.”
“this story simply gets better and better.”
“Once again the sub plots weave around one another, coming together with quality timing.”
“Each time I finish reading I’m exhausted, overjoyed, anxious and fearful of what’s coming next.”
“Brilliant writing from start to end.”
“Well done RR Haywood, please do not stop doing what you are doing.”
“This has been the best zombie series I’ve read.”
“I cannot begin to describe how exciting and spellbinding The Unread series is.”
“I just want to keep getting lost in the story.”
“I like zombie books. A lot. But the character development, the humour, the action and the banter in this series make it the best I have ever read.”
Deep in an Indonesian jungle, a careless tourist releases an ancient evil that has lain dormant for centuries. Appearing as a virus, completely without symptoms and seemingly benign, Trident quickly infects the world’s population. Silently it waits, counting down to the moment when it will reveal its true, terrifying nature.
It is only weeks before the presidential elections, and Garrison Fox, a decorated Marine and devoted husband and father, is almost assured of a return to the White House for a second term. As the campaign nears its final days, the First Family finds itself scattered across the U.S.
At an Ohio rally and across the globe, Trident suddenly unleashes its horrible power, transforming unsuspecting people into merciless killers driven to feed. When an infected Secret Service turns on him, President Fox is forced to flee across an America plunging deeper into savagery with each passing hour.
In Atlanta, a CDC researcher will work against her own mortality in an effort to stop an extinction-level event. In Pennsylvania, a newly commissioned second lieutenant is hurled into a war for which he was never trained. And moving east toward a secure mountain bunker, President Fox must find a way to save his family, his country and his own life…if he’s not already too late.
*** Get your mitts on this comedy horror novel, set at the start of the zombie apocalypse in the UK. Littered with pop-culture references, this will satisfy fans of Shaun of the Dead or George Romero films. ***
Hungover, dumped and late for work.
On an ordinary day, one of these would be a bad morning, but today Jim Taylor also has to contend with the zombie apocalypse.
Follow Jim during twenty four hours of Day One, as he and his zombie obsessed brother deal with the undead, a doomsday cult and maniacs in their quest to get to their parents, win his girlfriend back and for them to instigate ‘The Plan’.
Worlds will collide and fall apart in a Class Three outbreak.
“A perfect blend of humour and horror.” – Scream Magazine
“Plenty of guts, a shed load of violence, and doused from head to toe in comedy. Absolutely superb stuff.” – DLS Reviews
Philip frowned and looked back. “I don’t mean to burst your bubble el duderino, but an army base in the apocalypse is about as safe as a teenage girl at a Top of the Pops recording in the seventies.”
From the author of FEAST and Reinheit comes a new chapter in horror…
News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense.
Live. Die. Or become one of the undead.
I’ll do my best and not yarn too much over the movie I give credit as starting my entire fascination with not just horror, but zombies too. And that movie was Night of the Living Dead. Imagine, if you will, that you’re a twelve year old boy and you have a big sister who by all accounts ought to be hanging out with her much more mature friends but instead decides to watch movies with you. That was me. And while not every Friday (because my sister did have a life), but on most Friday nights we would have a Friday Movie Night. I’m talking pizza, popcorn, soda, candy, and whatever other junk we decided to indulge ourselves with. We’d order Pizza Hut and drive down to the local video store (Blockbuster) and rent whatever we wanted. While I cannot recall every movie night, I certainly recall the night my sister rented Night of the Living Dead.
For clarification sake, this would be the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, not the 1968 original. I wouldn’t see that version until many years later. And I know what most people will say when they hear the term remake. Noses raised. Lips pursed. Arms folded across the chest. Yes. Yes. I know the word offends many a film critics sensibilities. On most occasions I’d be apt to agree. There are a number of remakes that are totally unnecessary or fall completely under the bench mark set by the original film. And there are those that some classify as a remake simply because they share the same title but do not actually fit the traditional definition of a true remake. But that’s another argument we simply do not have the time to make. Needless to say, Night of the Living Dead (1990) fits the parameters of a remake, however, it is one I would not say was unnecessary nor did it fall below the benchmark of the original film.
As a refresher, here is an in-depth synopsis provided by IMDb:
“The unburied dead return to life and seek human victims.”
Seriously? That’s it? I mean, they’re not wrong, but…jeez. Okay, well, there’s obviously a little more going on then that. Under direction from Tom Savini and with John Russo AND George A. Romero taking helm over the screenplay and script, Night of the Living Dead (1990) follows all the main plot-lines from the original film. Barbara (played by Patricia Tallman) and her brother Jonny (played by Bill Moseley), on the behest of mother, make their ritual annual drive out to a far away rural cemetery to pay respects to their deceased father. Barbara is obedient. Jonny is…not keen on making the drive. After some hefty teasing on Jonny’s part, Barbara decides she’s had enough and starts back to the car when suddenly she bumps into a man who seems to be partially in a trance, muttering to himself, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
Strange as that is, as the siblings watch the man stumble away, another man reaches between them and grabs a hold on Barbara. Some screaming ensues and a scuffle breaks out between this oddly decomposing fellow and brother Jonny. Jonny gets tripped on his own feet and snaps his neck on a tombstone. In hysterics, Barbara takes off and comes upon another fellow who looks normal enough, he’s wearing a nice suit after all. But as the man comes closer, his suit slips under foot, revealing a very gnarly looking Y autopsy sutures across his chest and bowels. Just like in the original, panic ridden, she makes her way from the cemetery to a farm house. And just like in the original, the house seems abandoned, except for a few pesky undead.
Finding the farm house unsafe, Barb runs outside and watches as a pickup truck, kicking up dirt and dust, barrels over one of the undead and skids into the front lawn. Out jumps Ben (played by Tony Todd) who flicks a cigarette and with crowbar in hand goes after the few zombies that are stumbling around the house. Barb is at this point practically catatonic and unable to answer Ben’s most basic questions, “Is this your place? Do you have a car?” etc. etc. He takes her inside and bars the door, ending up in a scuffle with a rather persistent ghoul who really wants to get inside, leaving Barb alone to fend for herself against the owner of the house’s walking corpse.
So, at this point, the movie sounds nearly identical to the original. This of course begs the question, are there any differences? Well, for starters, and probably the most predominant change, is Barbara. In the original, Barb is very catatonic and in shock for most of the movie, only really coming to at the end when the house is nearly overrun and she gets dragged out by zombie brother Jonny. In this 1990 (22 years later) remake, Barb is mostly true to the original character, only this time she comes to sooner rather than later. She fends for herself against the tubby farmer zombie at the very beginning of their time inside the house. Even Ben notices and uses it to help motivate her to take action, “I’ve seen what you can do…when you have to.”
That line is kinda what the movie is all about, right? Doing what needs to be done when you need to do it. Taking action in the face of in-action. In part, this is the core argument between Ben and Harry Cooper (played by Tom Towles). Cooper is the embodiment of inaction. While Ben is the representation of action when necessary. The interesting thing is how those roles get skewed throughout the movie until both Ben and Cooper, bullet-ridden, seek shelter in the places they had both refused just hours before.
But back to Barbara…
In the original, she was helpless and in shock. Audiences were meant to feel sorry for her and pity her as just another victim of the zombie apocalypse. But this Barb is different. Yes, she was in shock. Who wouldn’t be after seeing their sibling break their neck and finding all these corpses walking around trying to eat you. Both Barbs are believable. The 1990 Barb though represents something different and perhaps more realistic in terms of metaphor. The new Barb is every bit rational. “They’re so slow,” she says, in reference to her observations of the walking undead. “We could move right by them, if we’re careful, we can get out of here,” she says to Ben who looks at her doubtfully. We’re meant to believe she’s finally cracked, but she hasn’t. She’s actually the only rational one there.
A huge reason why I love Romero inspired zombies is that they ARE so easy to get by. Its only when you’ve waited too long to take action are they dangerous. When you’ve allowed yourself to become paralyzed with in-action, when the staggering few become a shuffling horde, is when things start to become worrisome. And its the most shocking sentiment about a Romero zombie-story, the sin of in-action is death, and often not just any death, but undeath, cursed to walk to the earth as a brainless corpse. In the case of both Ben and Cooper is that they are stuck on one idea, one way of handling things even when the evidence is contrary to their belief.
As a twelve-year-old, and perhaps more now that i’m all grown up, I’m blown away by this amazing cast of iconic horror legends, and by the concepts the film presented. Romero had said once in one of his many interviews that he felt bad that he had originally made Barbara such a weak character trope. Hence why in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead we get a strong female protagonist. While I didn’t find the original Barbara to be a sexist characterization of femininity, I certainly didn’t mind the change in the remake. Of course, my perspective may be different from yours. I had known the 1990 Barb waaaay before I met the 1968 Barb. Still… Night of the Living Dead was a fantastic film and the 1990 remake is one of the best remakes to be produced. Mostly because of who was behind the project. When you’ve got the Godfather of Zombies penning the screenplay, chances are its going to be good.
Hey folks, in celebration of the release of PLANET OF THE DEAD i’ll be hosting a LIVE event over on Facebook. Join me tomorrow in a talk on ZomPoc (our favorite flesh munching movies and books), a reading from PLANET OF THE DEAD, and some paperback and digital book giveaways.
Some of the books being offered during the giveaway include, The Hobbsburg Horror, Reinheit, Emerging, and Conceiving. Digital downloads of Feast, The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Lanmo, and a limited number of PLANET OF THE DEAD copies will also be offered. The Facebook Live event will run on Friday the 13th from 11:30 AM (CST) to 12:30 PM (CST). Posts will remain visible throughout the day in case you are unable to attend during the designated hour.
Thank you and I hope to see you there!
Early reviews are starting to come in for PLANET OF THE DEAD!
See what these readers had to say…
“Readers of Horror: run, do not walk, do not shuffle, do not pace, to get PLANET OF THE DEAD. I can’t imagine any author who loves the Zombie culture more than Thomas S. Flowers, an author who stands out from the run-of-the-mill (in every piece of writing!) When we love someone or something, we speak of that at exceptional length; indeed, we rave over it. If we love it enough, we write of it. Thus, Thomas Flowers, whom I can see in the future writing Zombie screenplays, stage plays, documentaries…
“No two ways about it: love this novella! If you’re a zombie lover, you can’t help but revel-the author loves this subgenre, and his devotion shines in every sentence. If you’re convinced you don’t love zombies, or you think zombies are long since overdone, or you believe all that could be said about them has been written: think again, seriously. Just give PLANET OF THE DEAD a try. Read the first page; when you surface for air, you’ll realize you read the whole story.
“How can I suggest this? I can because I’m a second-category horror fan: I just don’t like Zombies. Really, never have. BUT I raced through PLANET OF THE DEAD absolutely as fast as I could, staying up late because I couldn’t bear to wait overnight to finish it. That’s the effect on a reader who normally walks away from zombie books. Thomas S. Flowers is the exception. This man writes fantastically, and I continue to metaphorically follow him around as he releases his wonderful literary talent to a grateful universe.
“What’s so great about PLANET OF THE DEAD? The pacing is nonstop, breathtaking. I CARED about the characters, even the feckless ones, even that weird surfer dude. I could visualize the war scenes because Mr. Flowers vivifies them, and every human sense is awakened to comprehension. I loved PLANET OF THE DEAD because I immediately became part of the story. As the newsreels used to iterate: YOU WERE THERE. Only, I WAS THERE. Still am, because PLANET OF THE DEAD still unreels in my head—yes, just like a film” –Mallory Haws, The Haunted Reading Room.
“Over the past five years or so I have found myself gradually losing my enthusiasm for zombies. There are any number of reasons why this could be the case. Certainly the first could be that The Walking Dead has kind of saturated our brains a bit. But also, I think that the digital, demystified movies we see these days aren’t as well suited for the vibe I want to feel from a good zombie story.
“Now cue the music and bring on this book. Planet Of The Dead, by Thomas Flowers.
“My favorite part of zombie stories are the beginning. There is some beautiful and grim foreshadowing in the early stages as we get to watch the confusion and despair set in among the population. Seeing the start of the collapse is what I find the most thrilling. So since this is essentially an entire book devoted to that part of a zombie uprising, well let’s just say Christmas came early for me this year.
“Thomas is a fan of Romero and zombies. You need read no more than a few chapters of this to figure that out. This story is quick and brutal. And I love the structure of it, with the narrative jumping around between central and less consequential characters. Since the Subdue series, Thomas has long established himself as being adept at juggling multiple points of view and this was no exception. He weaves from one vignette to another, layering the narrative in such a way as to heighten the dramatic tension in the story. At times, we see a horrific event only to go to the next scene and start again with a different character’s perspective, just to heighten the tragedy of what they don’t see coming.
“Thomas Flowers may have brought zombies back from the dead for me and I am definitely already impatiently waiting the next book in this trilogy” -Chad A. Clark, author of Through the Slip and Behind Our Walls.
“So I got to review this baby and damn it was beautiful. A few times I broke out into goosebumps because I could relate to the characters so much. Well thought out and hard to put down. I don’t normally read Zompoc fiction but damn this was one of the best books I’ve read in a while it seems like every book I read from him takes me on a journey I wish wouldn’t end. If you haven’t read anything by Thomas S Flowers I suggest you do, you just might find your new favorite author!” -13, Insanity Book Reviews, Memes, And Other Insane Things.
PLANET OF THE DEAD on pre-order SALE!
By: Thomas S. Flowers
Washington D.C., West Wing.
Walter Friendly already knew what was waiting for him on the other side of the press room door. Even before he had heard the buzz of nervous excitement, anxiety, and worst of all, dissent coming from the eagerly waiting reporters wanting nothing more than to take a giant-sized bite out of his ass. At this point, he wasn’t even sure why they were holding a live press briefing. The message could have been sent via phone call or email or Tweet for crying out loud. But it had been pressed upon him by the President’s Chief of Staff to send a clear and concise message.
“Wouldn’t that message sound better if it came from the President himself, or Press Secretary Godward?” Friendly had asked.
“Just read what we gave you.”
“What’s going on, Mike?”
“Jesus, is he sick.”
“This is real, isn’t it? It’s an epidemic?”
And with that, Walter had his answer.
He glared at the press room door, feeling that pinch behind his eyes again. Reaching into his blazer coat pocket, Walter pulled out two Meclizine tablets and chewed them. He swallowed hard, wishing he had a glass of water to wash down the sour taste. It was strange standing in the small cramped room by himself. Normally there were aides running memos back and forth and cosmetic ladies readied to give aged politicians a light dusting. There’d be none of that today. The entire West Wing seemed damn near deserted. Countless out sick calls, and countless more unreported.
Jesus…what is going on?
In all our years that we’ve known each other, I’ve never seen Mike so cold.
There was more going on.
More to this he wasn’t, or couldn’t, say.
But what exactly that was, Deputy Press Secretary Walter Friendly, just as every other American waking up to hear rumor upon rumor and broadcast upon broadcast stretching from South Korea, through Europe, and the United States of some “Super Flu,” had only the media news to go on. And now he was about to go in there and tell them they are all wrong. That rumors that the President was sick was a lie. That the epidemic, not that they were confirming it, was under control. That the CDC has everything under control.
He hoped so.
Walter took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. He stepped toward the press room door and stopped. He turned to the door behind him, the one that led to the West Wing offices.
What was that?
He angled his head slightly, listening.
Sounded like a gun report…
No. No. Look at you, Walt. You’re getting yourself all worked up.
You have a job to do. Just go out there and get it over with.
He stepped through the press room door in a flood and furry of camera flashes and rolling conversations about the end of the world. Most of those ceased when he came out, but he’d caught enough to gauge that he probably shouldn’t take any questions. Unless he was prepared to give them answers. Which he wasn’t.
At the podium, he exhaled, trying to avoid the glare of the spot lights.
“Good morning,” he started. “I have a statement the Executive Office would like to address. There will be no questions taken after the conclusion.”
Eye rolls and smirks among the press corps.
He rumpled the papers in his hand, already damping with sweat from his fingers, smudging the ink.
“To answer rumors going around, the President and his administration have been working very closely with CDC and Health service officials and State Governors.” Walter cleared his throat. “I’m only going to say this once, so listen up people. There is no epidemic. There is what we understand to be nothing more than a flu, and it is treatable. The Department of Homeland Security will be providing information on where you can go to be treated if you or your loved one is sick. These clinics are being outfitted by the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services, with vaccines. The Secretary of Health and the President urge their fellow Americans not to panic. Help will be provided.”
Walter exhaled and turned to leave. “Thank you,” he said, wanting nothing more than to be away from the bright lights and flashes of cameras and dozens of steely- eyed dissenters.
Shouts from the pit erupted.
Walter stopped, more out of reflex against the sudden surge of shouting than wanting to answer the barrage of questions being fired at him. He noticed Sarah Evan from Fox News and gestured toward her. At least she ought to have some common sense. Some loyalty for the President and his administration.
“Yes? Go ahead.”
“Deputy Press Secretary Friendly, Sarah Evan reporting for Fox News. These so-called rumors, as you called them, seem to be more than just rumors. There are reports coming in from across the nation, especially those having to do with looting and riots. What does the President plan to do regarding the reported violence that has occurred near or around these medical stations set up by the CDC?”
Walter took a step back to the podium. “The rumors I mentioned were about wide spread panic, which is simply not the case. Unfortunately, there are those who are willing to take advantage. As I have been briefed, the President is working closely with Homeland Security and local state officials to control the spread of looting and acts of wanton violence.”
Another body stood up in the crowd of jeering, eager reporters.
“Deputy Friendly, Joe Peters reporting for NBC World News. According to our sources, this isn’t just a national epidemic. Reports are coming in from London and Paris and even far away as Seoul. What are the administration’s plans on dealing with our allies?” Joe, a short-squared man dressed in a smart- looking tweed jacket and olive colored slacks, held his pen at the ready, with a somewhat smug grin Walter noted, waiting for him to answer his question.
Walter glanced around. Dozens of reporters stared at him, waiting. He cleared his throat. “At this time, such reports have not been verified with—”
“Have not been verified? What are you—”
“Excuse me, Mr. Peters, perhaps you should let me finish.”
“Is there no comment regarding aiding American allies?”
“Perhaps at this time it would be best for America to worry about American interests.”
“And just what are American interests, Deputy? And if this is not an epidemic, why is the President unwilling to collaborate with foreign nations to figure out what exactly is causing these global and widespread riots?”
Walter bit his tongue. This was exactly why he didn’t want to field questions. This constant dissent and banter from the news media. “I believe I have answered your question. Next?” He refused to let things end with the likes of Joe Peters.
“Deputy Friendly, Jason Kelly with CNN.” A man in a pinstriped suit stood up in front of Joe Peters, his black hair slicked back. Thick framed glasses precariously teetered on the edge of his nose. “You mentioned a moment ago that the President was working closely with local authorities. Some of these reports or rumors as you called them are reporting that some of these medical centers set up by the CDC and Health Department are being overrun.”
Walter rolled his eyes very obviously. “I’m not hearing a question, Mr. CNN.”
“Is the President considering the use of the National Guard?”
Walter pushed back from the podium. “What?”
“Has Martial Law been declared?”
More clicks and whorls of camera flashes. Yet, oddly silent otherwise.
“As I said before,” Walter started. “There is no epidemic. This has been trumped up by the liberal media and nothing more than—”
Sneers and grumbling erupted from the crowd of reporters.
Jason Kelly pressed on, “Sir, there has to be more going on, why hasn’t the President—”
“FAKE NEWS!” Deputy Press Secretary Walter Friendly shouted. “That’s all you are. Fake news.” He could feel the veins on his temple and forehead bulge. There was little doubt his face was beet red. His image on screen wouldn’t look good. The President’s Chief of Staff would be disappointed. He was blowing it after all. Rule number one was to never give in, never be baited, never overreact. But he couldn’t help it. He didn’t have all the answers, hell he didn’t even have one answer to give. Still, he’d be damned if he was going to let these tabloid junkies have a free run at the candy store and bully him into saying something he or someone else in the administration would have to deny later.
Camera flashes and smirks and even mocked expressions of shock surrounded him.
“Sir,” Joe continued undeterred, “is there some sort of cover up going on? Is there more the President isn’t telling the citizens of the United States? And why haven’t we heard from him? According to our sources, his Twitter feed has gone quiet for the past twelve hours. Is it true that the President is sick with whatever this epidemic is? Has the Executive Office been compromised?”
Get out now, he told himself. End this before things gets out of control.
Walter turned to leave, head downcast, feeling as if all he’d done was made things worse.
A wave of shouts and more questions and more flashes followed him to the press room door. Reaching for the handle, he stopped as the door flung open.
“What is this…? Floyd?” Walter took a step back, staring at Floyd Bennet, one of the secret service agents on the President’s detail. His black suit was wrinkled. A white button up underneath his black blazer partially untucked, as if he had gotten into a struggle with someone. His usually perfectly combed and parted brown hair a mess. With reddened yellow eyes, he glared back at Walter.
“Agent Bennet, is everything okay?” Walter offered, the dozens of dissenting reporters behind him momentarily forgotten.
The sickly-looking agent stepped toward him.
Walter held up his arms. “Floyd, what’s going on?” he whispered hotly, wanting to direct the agent back out the door, remembering they were not alone by a sudden flash of a camera behind him. “Did something happen to the President?”
Floyd Bennet opened his mouth as if to say something. Salvia drooled out in strings on his chin, drooping down and touching his suit.
The agent lunged and speared Walter, knocking him down to the floor. Around him, shouting erupted, now filled with actual visual terror. Screams and yelling. Pleading with someone on the security detail to come and help.
Jason Kelly and Joe Peters and Sarah Evan stared, frozen with their mouths agape.
Walter wondered, just for a moment as he held Agent Floyd Bennet back, trying to push him off him, trying to keep those gnashing teeth that stunk of gaseous spoiled milk from his throat, which was the greater sin, inaction or misinformation?
With that, Floyd batted away Walter’s arms and thrust his sour smelling teeth, biting down on his throat, sinking in and chewing, pulling away flesh and sinew in a jet of crimson blood.
Walter screamed, hitching his pelvis, clamping a bloodied hand over his gushing wound.
The reporters around him pushed back more frantically now, knocking into each other, fighting over who got to the exit first.
Deputy Press Secretary Walter Friendly reached out with a numbing hand for help, but found none.
As much as I claim not to be reactionary, more often than not I end up eating my own words. I’d say I do not like to be reactionary, but truth be told, there’s a small part of me that takes some twisted pleasure in arguing or venting or blowing off steam. Come on, we all do, on some level. I think I’d be more concerned with those who don’t vent some of that frustration. AND, to make a long point even longer than it needs to be to justify this post, isn’t that the objective of writing/blogging, to vent , to talk, to discuss?
What’s got me miffed?
Yesterday, I read an article published by Huffpo, Huffpuff, Huffpost, or whatever the name is, regarding how indie writers should stop publishing 4 books a year. I think the article is a few years old, published back in 2015, and seeing how the book world is really measured in dog years, I wonder if the author of said piece still feels the same way. I mean, is it even a valid argument, to tell indie writers NOT to publish a mass of books?
If you want to read the Huffpo argument…..[here]
I think the spirit of the article was really…though narrow minded, way of trying to get readers/writers to focus more on quality than quantity. In that respect, I absolutely, 100% agree. I have seen the fall of a few authors and small presses whose focus seemed to be almost exclusively on quantity rather than quality. Why put out a crap story just to put out a crap story? Right? Even if your name sounds very similar to Stephen King (wink wink).
But there’s an assumption being made here. That is, good work, as mentioned in the Huff article, so called “classics” of literary fiction, can ONLY be achieved through diligent, tedious, time consuming research, vetting, editing, etc. etc., that spans over months, YEARS, god help them even DECADES! The article sited work such as Goldfinch and To Kill a Mocking Bird as books that took decades to finish. Ignoring, of course, all the many other literary classics that were completed in a shorter span of time, such as A Clockwork Orange, A Christmas Carol, or The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas (to name a few) that were written in weeks or even days.
My point being, why do you have to spend year after painful year crafting and honing that PERFECT book? I’ll make a statement that may or may not be popular, but its an honest one, and its mine. That PERFECT book, the one writers have been nibbling and deleting and redoing and shaping, guess what? It doesn’t exist. Though i’m sure i can be proven wrong, in a majority of cases these books are nothing more than pet projects. They’re not books, not really.
But you know what? Its okay. Pet projects are good, i think. I’ve got one, haven’t touched it in a while, but had spent years crafting it, knowing in the back of my head that it would never be published. Nor do i think i would want to. It had become too precious for me to allow it to be picked at and prodded by reviewers and critics.
Me on Writing?
I’m no expert. These are just my opinions in my thus short career as a writer. What I think is something similar to Aristotle’s advice to his son regarding the Golden Mean, writers would do well to avoid extreme polar sentiments. On one hand, never sacrifice quantity over quality. That said, never assume quality is restricted to a set standard of time. Some writers are simply prolific. They have a natural talent at storytelling and can pump out book after book like it was nothing. And there’s probably an even more sinister assumption that just because they are able to publish more than one book a century, they are not working as hard. I’d say prolific writers work just as hard, truth be told. And yes, those writers who require more time, or prefer more time, are just fine too. At bottom, you gotta do you. In either case, writers shouldn’t be aiming to be the next great literary master. Odds are, its never going to happen. And most of the writers who are considered to be great award winning masters of lit were never trying to be. They just wanted to tell a story, and if that is your goal and focus, does it really matter if it takes you one week or one year to write it?
Just some thoughts from young writer.
Why zombies is a question worth consideration. For me, my fascination for the ghoulish undead started in the early 1990s. My older sister and I used to have what we called Fright Movie Nights. We’d set up camp downstairs in the basement where my dad typically watched TV. I suppose you could call this space a den, of sorts. It was cold and usually damp feeling. In the winter, the wood fireplace would be burning, giving a very pleasant warmth to the place. At any rate, this was where we’d have our ritual Friday night movies. We’d drive to Blockbuster, rent a couple VHS tapes, order a pizza, pop some popcorn, open a bag of candy, and fill our cups with glorious soda.
I cannot recall every movie night, but i do remember one in particular. I’m not sure if it was my idea or my sisters, but we rented Night of the Living Dead, the Tom Savini directed remake with George A. Romero writing the script. I can still recall how mesmerized I was. Not just the gore; I mean, yes zombies are cool and all. But I was also mesmerized with the personal struggles between the characters, how they were at root their own worst enemies. As Barbara amply pointed out, “[zombies] are so slow, they could walk right past them, if they were careful.” But, as it seems, even for level headed Ben, fear of the unknown crippled the survivors from taking any sort of action. They had no guarantee of success and so became paralyzed from taking risk.
Barbara on her part understood the risk and was also afraid but was still willing to take a chance, to do something, anything but sit around bickering and being consumed by their own internal turmoil with each other. She had no guarantee but was still willing to confront the risk. And, in the end, she survived.
The beautiful ugly about zombie movies, at least the ones in the Romero vein, is that the story isn’t so much about those walking dead, its about the people struggling to survive. Seeing how they behave in the most extreme situations. This is why, I think, AMC’s The Walking Dead is so popular. I’m sure there are maybe some other reasons too, water-cooler edict, so to speak, not wanting to be the last in the know. Fundamentally though the show is really about the survivors in this new world in which all the things we take for granted, internet, government, electricity, stores, shopping, gas stations, cell phones, are all gone.
But why this is such a popular motif?
While sure, some are watching because they want to know what their co-workers are talking about at the water-cooler. And there are those who are in it for the kills, the gore, and the very well done practical effects. But some, I think, are in it for the story in part as an examination, even if only subconsciously, of society. TWD is a sociological study on what happens when you take away all the barriers and comforts. How civilized does civilization remain when you take away the things that made people feel safe? Which begs the question, what are the things that make us feel safe? And like any good horror story, there are no easy answers, rather, horror works in order to drag (kicking and screaming) those nagging questions out into the daylight and forces audiences to examine themselves and come to their own conclusions.
This is why zombies.
George A. Romero had once said, the story could be about any natural disaster, and while that is true, I believe that zombies, the living dead, and their unquenchable lust for living flesh is the perfect stage for a sort of metaphorical critique. Of which I suggest you come to your own conclusions of what those metaphors might be. In my new book, PLANET OF THE DEAD, I forced myself to look at what I thought those metaphors might be, as I saw them. There’s a line in the book, I think near the end when one of the characters says something in the line of how people have always in one way or another been consuming one another, now people are literally consuming each other, and to survive, something will have to change.
Well…that’s my two cents on the subject.
What’s your opinion on “Why Zombies?”
And before you go, be sure to take a look at my latest release. PLANET OF THE DEAD is currently on sale for $0.99 (pre-order). After October 13, the price will be $3.99. Still not bad, but why pay full price when you can download the eBook for a buck???
From the author of FEAST and Reinheit comes a new chapter in horror…
News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense.
Live. Die. Or become one of the undead.