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"A nightmare from top to bottom"
June 13, 2012 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Brad Pitt's Zombie Nightmare: Inside the Troubled 'World War Z' Production The Hollywood Reporter sorts through the problems causing the release of the film version of Max Brooks' post-apocalyptic UN report to be delayed until next June. Via the A.V. Club, which adds links to previous stories about the filming.
posted by mediareport (114 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The direction they seem to be taking with this film is maddening. If they stuck to the structure of the book, make it like a historical documentary with flashbacks, it could be a classic. But it sounds like they're just attaching a high profile name to formulaic crap, and that's so very disappointing.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:39 PM on June 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


People tell me all the time that I look like Brad Pitt. Then they clarify. "No, I meant Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, where he's completely insane."

I still feel flattered though.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:40 PM on June 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


For starters, there shouldn't be a "star" of this film, as there is no reason any actor shouldn't be given more than 15-20 minutes of screen time (except for maybe an interviewer non-character like in Little Big Man). It should be a series of short personal and disparate accounts from unrelated people on different parts of the globe, with the only "story arc" being a broad perspective of how the war played out.

The very idea that they payed for a name like Pitt shows they're doing it wrong.
posted by sourwookie at 9:42 PM on June 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


A part of me hopes this will help spell the end of this tentpole nonsense, where the summer blockbuster has been replaced by the everything blockbuster, where every single movie has to cost $200 million and there's no room anymore for $18 million niche films.

But, then, I think I09 might be right, and this tentpole mania is helping usher in a new glorious era of trash culture. And I find it to be ridiculously fun.

People tell me all the time that I look like Brad Pitt. Then they clarify. "No, I meant Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, where he's completely insane."

His best role, and performance.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:45 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The very idea that they payed for a name like Pitt shows they're doing it wrong.

It wouldn't be happening at all if it weren't for Pitt. His company is producing it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:49 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


His best role, and performance.

I dunno about that.
posted by chaff at 9:51 PM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


The original structure of the book was retained in a few drafts, a couple of which I have read, and it was something of a mess. Moving away from the structure of the book took it from being a 30 million dollar movie to a 200 million dollar movie. I'd prefer studios make more of the former, but at the moment, they are only interested in the latter. I wish I weren't leaving for the airport at 9AM tomorrow so I could discuss more, but suffice it to say -- this movie will come out, it'll probably do mediocre business domestically but it'll make a shed ton of money overseas, and studios will continue to churn out expensive crap.
posted by incessant at 9:52 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't really care what troubles they are going through, I just hope there's an awesome 4 hour long director's cut blueray someday. (Or 4 hour long fan edit!)
posted by Catblack at 9:52 PM on June 13, 2012


If this is bubble burster for Zombie enthusiasm, it will be worth it.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:54 PM on June 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


They should have done it as a big budget HBO-style miniseries, not a blockbuster movie. It's the only format that could do the book any real justice.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:54 PM on June 13, 2012 [37 favorites]


His best role, and performance.

I dunno about that. yt


OMFG Burn Before Watching! Worst. Movie. Ever. Runforyourlives.
posted by HyperBlue at 9:55 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno about that.

Also a great one. He's a lot of fun as a character actor.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:55 PM on June 13, 2012


Worst. Movie. Ever. Runforyourlives.

Well, it does have this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:56 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT: Brad Pitt is immune to zombie infections due to hundreds of years of vampirism.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 PM on June 13, 2012


THR also says the (possibly) bungled choice of director was Pitt's decision. Makes you wonder what would have happened if DiCaprio's company had won the rights instead.

If this is bubble burster for Zombie enthusiasm, it will be worth it.

Well, don't bet on that. It might be the spark for a few insipid lifestyle pieces about the zombie bubble being over, though. Too bad, really; the book is one of the smartest, most engaging bits of zombie culture ever, top 3 for sure, and anyone who hasn't read it should give the first 100 pages a try before writing off the living dead as a cultural phenomenon.
posted by mediareport at 10:04 PM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


It wouldn't be happening at all if it weren't for Pitt. His company is producing it.

OK. But he should mostly stay out of sight and focus on the story.

They should have done it as a big budget HBO-style miniseries, not a blockbuster movie. It's the only format that could do the book any real justice.

YES. But not HBO, because they don't do that streaming thing very well.
posted by sourwookie at 10:05 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want a crossover where Pitt leads the Inglorious Basterds against the zombie horde. "Each and every man under my command owes me 100 Zambie scalps. And I want my scalps!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:09 PM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


THR also says the (possibly) bungled choice of director was Pitt's decision. Makes you wonder what would have happened if DiCaprio's company had won the rights instead.

It never would've gotten made, I'll tell you that. But the script would've gotten onto the Black List, so ...
posted by incessant at 10:10 PM on June 13, 2012


Paramount has taken the unusual step of hiring Prometheus scriptwriter Damon Lindelof to rework the film’s third act

This is surely the man who can wrap up a complex plot cleanly.
posted by benzenedream at 10:12 PM on June 13, 2012 [44 favorites]


Zombie Nightmare
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:12 PM on June 13, 2012


Worst. Movie. Ever.

Don't get me wrong I don't adore the movie, it felt like a failed attempt at a second Lebowski, but even their bad stuff is pretty good.

As for the idea that they should be sticking closer to the book, it seems like the price of being given $150 million to film a worldwide zombie invasion is that you're going to have to hit certain corny beats and tropes for your producers, and do some violence to the source material in the process.
posted by chaff at 10:13 PM on June 13, 2012


Brad Pitt was SUPERB in True Romance.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:16 PM on June 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Paramount has taken the unusual step of hiring Prometheus scriptwriter Damon Lindelof to rework the film’s third act

I wonder how he'll incorporate gargantuan inexplicable statues into this franchise!
posted by Bromius at 10:18 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


(please god no Prometheus spoilers)
posted by mediareport at 10:20 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Somebody should make a movie where there's just one zombie. Still slow. Still stupid. Still has serious hygiene problems and wants to eat your brains, but nobody really gives a shit, 'cause there's just the one. It can't get any respect. It was the role that Brad was born to play.

They could make that movie for about 20 bucks. And I'd go see it. Well, actually, I probably wouldn't, because I hate theaters (they have people in them). But I'd totally watch it on cable.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:20 PM on June 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's my new nickname for Lindelof: The Spoiler
posted by mediated self at 10:23 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


If this is bubble burster for Zombie enthusiasm, it will be worth it.

The Prometheus thread has got me thinking about aliens way, way too much, because I stared straight at your comment, but it still took me four reads to realize it didn't say chestburster.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:25 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only zombie movie I want to see right now is one that's based on Day Z.
Location? Eastern Europe.
Situation? Unknown Infection.
Average Life Expectancy? 32 minutes.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:28 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damn. I'd really hoped that this would be a good movie. The book deserves better. It's a pretty damn amazing book. It's the book that Studs Terkel would've written, had there been a zombie apocalypse during his lifetime. Seriously, Studs-Terkel-level-good.

Give me a movie where we have something like the setup at the end of Smoke, where Harvey Keitel tells William Hurt the story of Augie Wren's Christmas. Get a great actor, someone who'd be interesting to sit through an hour of talking, and have them against actors and actresses who can tell stories. Sure, if you need to, you could always segue into scenes during the interview, but you wouldn't have to for each and every story. In fact, it might be more effective if not every story involves a flashback, and for some (the woman walking around in Canada, braining still-frozen zombies before they thaw), it might be better just to have the camera follow them along as they tell their story to the reporter.

Instead, it's going to suck. Damn it.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:33 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


OMFG Burn Before Watching! Worst. Movie. Ever. Runforyourlives.

Shut yer lying hole - that movie was HYSTERICAL! And Pitt as the spectacularly clueless gym bunny was damn near perfect. Going to the meet to exchange the files with his bike gear on... cracks me up every time.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:36 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


They should have done it as a big budget HBO-style miniseries, not a blockbuster movie.

And just used the set of In Treatment.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:37 PM on June 13, 2012


There is literally no reason for a World War Z movie, nothing about the format lends itself to a movie and we already HAVE a great adaptation of the movie. It's the audio book and it's AMAZING.

Seriously, go buy it. GREAT.
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 PM on June 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Also, the PULL of the book, the thing that made it interesting was the idea of a Worldwide Zombie situation, that we get to see well what if we get zombies in mainland china or the sewers of paris or in a desert nomad camp or or on the coast of india or in the middle of the jungle or on the canadian shield or stuck in iceland etc etc. Thats so not a good scenario for a movie.

Also I think anything I really liked, the stuff only hinted out in the books, like the Last Men On Earth or the Canine Zombie Unit or the self-succifent college feifdoms will just be ignored.
posted by The Whelk at 10:51 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


And just used the set of In Treatment.

OMG! Zombie shrinks!

Paul: Last week you were talking about your father...
Z: Total asshole. Never gave me any credit.
Paul: Can you give me an example?
Z: He once told me that even if I inherited his company, I'd never have his brains.
Paul: How did that make you feel?
Z: It was pretty funny, really. I ate his brains.
Zombie Gina: Did somebody say something about brains? I'm feeling a bit peckish.

fin
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:52 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am quite confused, didn't realize we were supposed to hate Burn After Reading... it is one of my favourite movies. Understated, actors getting the opportunity to really work their quirky characters, and this unusual plot structure that has you wondering the whole time "WTF is going on?" and "Who is this movie really about?"

So maybe people are rejecting it because of that? I think that is actually the point of the movie! The "big reveal" at the end is that, hey, nobody is driving and nobody knows WTF is going on - wonderful, and the message ties perfectly into our zeitgeist...
posted by Meatbomb at 10:55 PM on June 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Burn After Reading is one of the darkest, most misanthropic comedies ever to sneak into theaters. I ADORE it.

All of the carrots he chops, that is a thing of beauty.
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It was apparently written in alternate days when they're adapting No Country For Old Men and you can totally see it as a satirical version of the same themes.
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 PM on June 13, 2012


when they where*
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 PM on June 13, 2012


Which is why they wrote the same ending for both films.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 PM on June 13, 2012


ANYWAY we still don't have the Zombie Media Thing I Want To See. Cause I've been looking out for This Thing with the rise of Zombie Stuffs and I haven't seen it yet.

The rebuilding part. Like after the end of the world has happened and how we all figure out how to have a society in a post zombie-total ruin-thing world. The thing I wanted Walking Dead to be but so totally wasn't.

Like open on a group of people camping. Seemingly camping, it looks like a really involved RV campsite with tents and cars and people are talking about water and staying close and warning kids and is this a music festival or into the woods cult, what and then they start talking about trip wires and "hunting" and there seems to be two different groups hunting for food and then the people hunting for "sport" and it's confusing but we're all into these internal camp conflicts and people are talking about "city traders" and what is this go back to heartwarming camping stuff except no one seems to have a cell phone and people are really stressed out about water and power and then an alarm goes off, the trip wire caught something....

and then half the village camp shoots down a zombie caught in a net, and the camera pans up to see some ruined skyscrapers in the distance.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 PM on June 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


I was wondering how they were going to translate this into a movie. My husband and I listened to the audio book on a trip a while back and while there were very interesting parts, the rest was boring as all hell. Just terribly dull drivel. Not to mention the variety of character perspectives.. I just do not see that being written well into film, unless like mentioned above, it became a series.

Note: I do enjoy the zombie/apocalypse genre in all things. Have since I was a kid. I remember going to work with my mom (she worked nights cleaning the local MHMR) on the weekends when I was in Primary & Elementary school and popping the black and white Night of the Living Dead into the VCR, and a few years later they had "My Boyfriend's Back" which was my first introduction into the goofy zombie genre (which was really morbid, maybe it was just my child-brain), as well as Return of the Living Dead. I guess it was just being impressionable back then but now, nothing will really get me as excited as seeing or reading something from the zombie/apocalypse genre. Sorry to be one of those people, but I just am. I don't really see why it's popular to hate the zombie-loving crowd.
posted by Malice at 11:15 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Boyfriend's Back
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 PM on June 13, 2012


The direction they seem to be taking with this film is maddening. If they stuck to the structure of the book, make it like a historical documentary with flashbacks, it could be a classic. But it sounds like they're just attaching a high profile name to formulaic crap, and that's so very disappointing.

Yeah, this is my worry too. I don't believe for a second that this is only being made because of Brad Pitt. Now, I'm a fan of Pitt, but this was a book that anyone in Hollywood would see as a lucrative option. The problem is that, as has been said above, it's absolutely the wrong property for a tentpole adaptation. It just makes no sense for that kind of treatment.

I appreciate that Pitt seems to believe in the source material enough that he hired a director known for working on character, hoping that he could bring in the proper hand-holders to get the action scenes covered while keeping his eyes on what fans of the book would understand to be the heart of the story. You really, really don't want to risk Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich or Zack Snyder getting their hands on this one.

The tragedy, however, is that District 9 probably came out too late in the process to have hired Neill Blomkamp, because that's more or less exactly the feel one would want from this source material.

It should also have nowhere near the budget that it does. This could have been done for under $50 million, in my belief. There aren't a lot of action scenes in it and even the ones which are there (thinking mostly of the Battle of Yonkers) would be handled in a news-footage-verite manner.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:20 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have noticed that all Cohen brothers movies improve after a second viewing--all of them. There's something about the way they're written and made...I don't know what it is...that rewards viewers a second, third, howevermany times around. Burn After Reading felt very very very inconsequential and kind of pointless (plus it's incredibly short--feels like about an hour long), but if I watched it a second time I think I'd appreciate it more.

Sorry for the derail. And I'm sorry for the schadenfreude this article gives me. I like Brad Pitt fine, but zombies and zombie movies are just so so so boring. I tried to read WWZ and was surprised how amateurish it was compared with the laudatory reviews. Early on I groaned inwardly and outwardly with the overly contrived scene of a Dick Cheney-type former Vice President who was working in a sewage plant (or something) and whose job it was to clean the cow dung (Get it?? His job is to shovel shit! Just like his old job! Get it??) Didn't make it much past that. If this bombs, does this mean we can stop with the zombie craze and go back to vampires--much more interesting. (And no, not sexy vampires, scary vampires.)
posted by zardoz at 11:23 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have mentioned this before but the Cohen Brothers movies are all ....slow burns. They come out to universal mildness and then like five years later everyone LOVES THEM. I don't know what it is either, but it seems to happen all the time with them.

Except for the Ladykillers, no one liked that.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's Coen, not Cohen
posted by mediated self at 11:30 PM on June 13, 2012


And Intolerable Cruelty, which NEVER HAPPENED OKAY.
posted by The Whelk at 11:32 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


World War Z was kind of a bad book, wasn't it? I thought it was basically unreadable.
posted by empath at 11:32 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(It's one of their worst, but I enjoyed Ladykillers.)
posted by brundlefly at 11:33 PM on June 13, 2012


I hear the audiobook is awesome.
posted by Artw at 11:41 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hear the audiobook is awesome.

The readers of the audio book ARE awesome. They really breathed life into the story. The book itself, the writing that is, can be very dull (IMHO, of course.)
posted by Malice at 11:46 PM on June 13, 2012


Loved it myself.

Sort of saddened that Max Brooks seems so completly unable to move on though. Do use some wolfmans or draculas!
posted by Artw at 11:48 PM on June 13, 2012


Paramount has taken the unusual step of hiring Prometheus scriptwriter Damon Lindelof to rework the film’s third act

Having just see Prometheus, whatever hope I had even an ember of the original book's fire surviving into the film is now extinguished.

I'm sorry. I hate to diss writers. I'm a writer. I feel bad when I do it. And he's obviously a much more successful writer than I am, so I shouldn't have any ground to stand on.

But, dammit, if there ever was a sci-fi/horror script more tone-deaf to the nuances of the sci-fi/horror genre (and the developments in that genre that have happened since the original Alien/Blade Runner era), I haven't seen it and I hope not to. It was like a script written by a vending machine.

Which, it sounds like, is exactly what's being actively sought-out at this point. Shudder.

The sad thing is, if the this film is really the stinker it sounds like it's going to be, it will cast the book in very bad light in the minds of those who haven't read the book. Because the book is very, very good and deserves to be read.
posted by treepour at 11:51 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gotta say it is a good book. I stopped reading the walking dead after the first 1000 page omnibus due to lack of words (don't know why I would expect a comic to have more words but I do) and I'm not a huge fan of zombies anyway but the book really holds up.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:08 AM on June 14, 2012


I stopped reading the walking dead after the first 1000 page omnibus due

I couldn't get through the third issue. Even though I didn't think WWZ was all that great, I still think his writing far outshines the Walking Dead creator. I know it's a comic and all, but I was disappointed. I think I only watch the series anymore for Daryl (Norman Reedus), and to see if Carl will ever stay in the house.
posted by Malice at 2:01 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


or the self-succifent college feifdoms

Yeah for obvious reasons that was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Also in regards to the movie - can anyone guess which scenarios from that book they'll pick to film for 200 million dollars? I bet I can pick one. Hint: It has brave soldiers facing impossible odds.
posted by muddgirl at 3:21 AM on June 14, 2012


The problem with WWZ is that all of those different perspectives seemed to be told in the same voice. I just couldn't suspend disbelief that the episodes had happened to different people. Brooks had a decent enough idea, but he didn't have the writing chops to pull it off.
posted by item at 3:22 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


(And yeah, I realize that the sum of it all was supposed to be a book put together by a single journalist. Didn't help, for some reason.)
posted by item at 3:24 AM on June 14, 2012


Forget Pitt. The movie should totally have been made by Mel Brooks. Keep it in the family.
posted by item at 3:27 AM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


The problem with WWZ is that all of those different perspectives seemed to be told in the same voice. I just couldn't suspend disbelief that the episodes had happened to different people. Brooks had a decent enough idea, but he didn't have the writing chops to pull it off.

People have recommended the audio book. I echo their recommendations. I feel it is THE definitive treatment of the material, and you're never going to get a better adaptation.
posted by mikelieman at 3:48 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]




We're missing the worst part of the article: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Look, I like supernatural stories and I like mash'em-ups. But I only like them when they are done well. I can guarantee that this movie will not be done well.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:47 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Needs an anthology animation adaptation of the various "interview" segments. Differen styles, coherent vision ... A la "Animatrix"
posted by MattD at 4:50 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except for the Ladykillers, no one liked that.

It was worth watching for Tom Hanks relentlessly gnawing upon every scrap of scenery he could get his pearly teeth about. He was so over-the-top, and in such an atypical role, it transcended an otherwise flawed movie.

"Madam, we must have waffles! We must all have waffles forthwith! We must all think, and we must all have waffles, and think each and every one of us to the very best of his ability... "
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:52 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


If this is bubble burster for Zombie enthusiasm, it will be worth it.

There aren't enough candles in all the world for me to light in hopes of this coming true.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on June 14, 2012


From the article: Then in October, proceedings were disrupted when a Hungarian anti-terrorism unit raided an airport warehouse and confiscated 85 fully functional automatic assault rifles that were to be used on the shoot. (The guns were not supposed to be operational, and it is illegal to transport such weapons into the country.)

WHAT. This is chaos. Forget the problems with the plot, it sounds like they narrowly avoided a few deaths. According to a different article the crew was convinced they were replicas. But they were not.

There are some serious problems with that production.
posted by newg at 5:18 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, don't bet on that. It might be the spark for a few insipid lifestyle pieces about the zombie bubble being over, though. Too bad, really; the book is one of the smartest, most engaging bits of zombie culture ever, top 3 for sure, and anyone who hasn't read it should give the first 100 pages a try before writing off the living dead as a cultural phenomenon.

I'm perfectly happy for their to be a few good books/movies about zombies. What I'm tired of is the guy at work who keeps talking about what the office is going to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse because he thinks it's funny despite the fact that these conversations are as entertaining as any other emergency planning meaning.

This might be a special problem I have though.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:32 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Somebody should make a movie where there's just one zombie.

There's more than one, but Fido might be what you're looking for.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:38 AM on June 14, 2012


People tell me all the time that I look like Brad Pitt. Then they clarify. "No, I meant Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, where he's completely insane."

His best role, and performance.


Floyd from True Romance
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seem to be reading a rash of stories about troubled big budget productions lately. The Lone Ranger is having problems staying under $250 million and the G.I. Joe sequel has been pushed back by a whole year.
posted by octothorpe at 5:56 AM on June 14, 2012


Tales from Development Hell is essential reading if you want the grisly close-up view of Hollywood turning good ideas to shit again and again and an idea of why that happens.
posted by Artw at 6:05 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


If Hollywood can't manage to make World War Z without screwing it up, one can only imagine the ways they'll mangle Justin Cronin's The Passage.

In the genre of tiny budgets, I look at things like Stakeland and another one, that was a faux-documentary about life in the San Francisco area about 10 or so years after a worldwide plague. Both of those movies had the exact sort of feel that I would expect out of World War Z.
posted by gsh at 6:10 AM on June 14, 2012


I just keep wondering if Michael Stipe will get his cameo; he makes a brief appearance in the book.
posted by Occula at 6:11 AM on June 14, 2012


This ridiculous pop culture zombie craze has been stale and played out for ages now. Why won't it just die already?!


Oh...
posted by Kevtaro at 6:19 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, yeah, Stakeland was a nice low-budget vampire/zombie surprise - sets the dark, grimy mood, has a decent story (kinda punts near the end, though) and delivers a solid, emotional apocalypse without needing $200 million to do it. The trailer doesn't quite do it justice, but horror flick fans who haven't seen it yet are in for a minor treat.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


You should really see Pontypool. Ponty

Pool.
posted by Artw at 6:23 AM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Artw: "Tales from Development Hell is essential reading if you want the grisly close-up view of Hollywood turning good ideas to shit again and again and an idea of why that happens."

Just read that and I'm mostly amazed that anything half-way watchable ever comes out of Hollywood.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 AM on June 14, 2012


Well, there's a reason why anyone interested in the writing is going over to Television.
posted by Artw at 6:37 AM on June 14, 2012


I had high hopes for this when I heard that Straczynski was writing it, but the huge mess (there's no way they will do any better than break even on a $170 million production with such niche material) and now hearing that they brought on Lindelof means that the awesome source material isn't going to get the treatment it deserves.
posted by deanc at 6:46 AM on June 14, 2012


Somebody should make a movie where there's just one zombie. Still slow. Still stupid. Still has serious hygiene problems and wants to eat your brains, but nobody really gives a shit,

Wasn't this Day of the Dead?
posted by lodurr at 6:50 AM on June 14, 2012


Book is amazing.

Audiobook is stupendous. Allen Alda! Why is he not in the movie itself??!!

Movie looks horrifying (and not in a good 'zombie' horrifying kind of way).

It's sad, expected, and totally the norm.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:04 AM on June 14, 2012


When I heard they were jettisoning the interview structure, I knew they didn't get it. The structure is basically Citizen Kane with zombies, but oh no! Can't make a good movie out of that structure!
posted by vibrotronica at 7:17 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Citizen Kane absolutely would not get made today. Not by a studio, anyway.
posted by Artw at 7:25 AM on June 14, 2012


Tales from Development Hell is essential reading if you want the grisly close-up view of Hollywood turning good ideas to shit again and again and an idea of why that happens.

I wouldn't be surprised if he wrote about WWZ in either an updated edition or another book.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2012


They should just turn the remaining budget, rushes and kit over to the indie team that shot Spoiler and give them a year. I bet it would rule.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to watch Pontypool, but Mrs. French stopped by to ask me to help her look for her lost cat, Honey. Everything after that is a bit of a blur, to be honest, but I never got back to the movie.
posted by Shepherd at 7:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Artw: "Citizen Kane absolutely would not get made today. Not by a studio, anyway."

Citizen Kane was pretty low budget for being a pretty epic movie. Watch the DVD with Ebert's commentary turned on; he points out how little of what you see in that movie is really there. It's mostly all stock footage, matte paintings and suggestion.
posted by octothorpe at 8:19 AM on June 14, 2012


Somebody should make a movie where there's just one zombie. Still slow. Still stupid. Still has serious hygiene problems and wants to eat your brains, but nobody really gives a shit,

Wasn't this Day of the Dead?

You hulking corpses should check out Colin.
posted by Mintyblonde at 9:05 AM on June 14, 2012


Is Colin out in the states yet? Seems like I've been waiting for it for years.
posted by mediareport at 10:38 AM on June 14, 2012


mediareport: "Is Colin out in the states yet? Seems like I've been waiting for it for years."

It's on Netflix, if you have that.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:18 AM on June 14, 2012


WWZ was a decent read, but the Battle of Yonkers is one of the strongest examples of "Did Not Do the Research" I've ever come across.

If Brooks has ever read anything about how the modern US military conducts its affairs, it did not show up in the section. Cracked.com, of all places, had it right: when constructing a narrative about the zombie apocalypse, you're better off just entirely skipping the part where the zombies overcome military forces. (Notable exceptions being Crossed with its intelligent zombies, many of whom turn while operating military vehicles, and $ of the Living Dead films with their well-nigh invincible trioxin zombies.)

Even TWD comic book series finally had its characters realize that even a large number of zombies will lose against a much smaller group of prepared, experienced humans who are on familiar ground and well aware of the threat they face.

So, leave that part out, just have some vague mention of zombies overrunning the army, and you could have a decent movie that stuck to the format of the book.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:35 AM on June 14, 2012


If this is bubble burster for Zombie enthusiasm, it will be worth it.

There aren't enough candles in all the world for me to light in hopes of this coming true.


Can I ask why someone else's enthusiasm for the zombie genre bothers you enough to wish for its demise?
posted by Malice at 11:40 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I complain about how the author's wish fulfillment of muslims killing themselves while magnificent Israel opened its borders to all, and tried to warn the world of the coming apocalypse made me throw the book against the wall?

Spoiler!



I don't have the exact quote but : "How could our fraternal muslim brothers do this to us?!" (emphasis added) regarding the horribly contrived chain of events leadings Iranians and Pakistani's to nuke each other. Yeah.
posted by stratastar at 11:46 AM on June 14, 2012


I stopped reading the walking dead after the first 1000 page omnibus

I was so excited to read it and it turned out to be some unbearably heinously tedious shit. It makes a good doorstop though.
posted by elizardbits at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2012


Can I ask why someone else's enthusiasm for the zombie genre bothers you enough to wish for its demise?

Zombies are just so... uninteresting. There is so little left to do with them in new ways. It's very hard to come up with a new take. The obvious new direction (and I've heard of but not seen projects doing this) is self-aware zombies, but I think as soon as you get there you've left zombies behind. You can use them as a metaphor for the unthinking conformity of the masses, but that's already been done very well. You really need to have something special to make zombies work at this point. Very few zombie projects have that. World War Z did. The movie of World War Z won't.

I know many people who are obsessed with zombies, and I can't help but judge them a little. Just... there's no "there" there any more.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


self-aware zombies are just vampires with skin care problems.
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do vampires with tapeworms have vampire tapeworms? And what would be the difference?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:41 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brad Pitt's best work.
posted by Nabubrush at 12:44 PM on June 14, 2012


... even a large number of zombies will lose against a much smaller group of prepared, experienced humans who are on familiar ground and well aware of the threat they face.

See also 28 Days Later, as a bare handful of soldiers hold off waves of fast zombies for several weeks, until the 9th doctor tries to go all white-slaver on some fellow survivors.
posted by lodurr at 1:51 PM on June 14, 2012


... as for why 'someone else's enthusiasm for genre x should be of concern to anyone else: When said genres get sufficiently ubiquitous, it can be a tad bit annoying.
posted by lodurr at 1:53 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can I complain about how the author's wish fulfillment of muslims killing themselves while magnificent Israel opened its borders to all, and tried to warn the world of the coming apocalypse made me throw the book against the wall?

I have no idea what book you read, but in World War Z, as the plague ramps up, Israel's first reaction is to withdraw from the occupied territories to build a huge, shorter, more easily defensible new wall around the 1967 borders, and to guard it with soldiers and dogs to sniff out any infected person, slamming shut its borders to everyone but uninfected Jews and Palestinians and totally closing itself off to everybody else. This, of course, causes a revolution on the part of Orthodox fundamentalist Jews who refuse to accept the shrinking border, and starts the Israeli Civil War. You know, Jews "killing themselves."

Seriously, if anyone's still reading this, stratastar's description above is completely at odds with what's actually in the book. Brooks' take on politics can get clunky and/or simplistic at times, but for the most part I think he handles it believably well. What happens to North Korea still gives me shivers.
posted by mediareport at 3:57 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Israel's first reaction is to withdraw from the occupied territories to build a huge, shorter, more easily defensible new wall around the 1967 borders"

Ok you're right, more happens within Israel.

That specific chapter is introduced with a Palestinian refugee family making the trek to Israel at the protestations of the anti-semitic militant son. And if that isn't the most trite shoddy political statement making, I don't know what is.

Oh WAIT I actually DO... the pleasure he takes when whole countries of Muslims kill each other off off with nukes before the zombies invade!
posted by stratastar at 4:10 PM on June 14, 2012


It's on Netflix, if you have that.

Ah, that explains it, they don't have the dvd of Colin, which is why it's still sitting in the 'saved' section of my queue (I dropped streaming a while ago and don't miss it). Guess it's pretty stupid to use Netflix buying a physical copy as my indicator of when a dvd gets released in the states, but I learned my lesson. Think I'll just go buy it.
posted by mediareport at 4:14 PM on June 14, 2012


Zombies are just so... uninteresting. There is so little left to do with them in new ways. It's very hard to come up with a new take. The obvious new direction (and I've heard of but not seen projects doing this) is self-aware zombies, but I think as soon as you get there you've left zombies behind. You can use them as a metaphor for the unthinking conformity of the masses, but that's already been done very well. You really need to have something special to make zombies work at this point. Very few zombie projects have that. World War Z did. The movie of World War Z won't.

I know many people who are obsessed with zombies, and I can't help but judge them a little. Just... there's no "there" there any more.


Fair enough of a reason!

Have you ever read anything by David Moody? His two different takes on the genre with the Hater and Autumn series might change your mind on that.
posted by Malice at 4:16 PM on June 14, 2012


the pleasure he takes when whole countries of Muslims kill each other off off with nukes before the zombies invade!

Does Brooks take equal pleasure in the Orthodox Jews terror-bombing secular Jews who are building the wall around smaller territory? How on earth would you know? Is the "pleasure" a Jewish author takes in depicting political violence only obvious when it lines up with your own preconceptions about what that author's Jewishness must say about his politics?
posted by mediareport at 4:23 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Listen, my point wasn't to engage with you or the author's Jewishness (which *I* didn't, if he wrote under an ostensibly non-Jewish pen name I would be just as annoyed), but rather the places where the lazy writing really shone through.

Sci-fi and fantasy (especially zombie fictions) are to a point, a kind of wish-fulfillment, you create a universe where some motivating factor causes people and groups to behave in certain ways, and let it play out. Its fun to see how different events would cause different groups or people to react. The rich try to buy their lives but are trampled by the underclasses, the US is disorganized, but eventually re-builds through plucky can-do and hard work. The leader of a Rhodesian guerrilla faction figures out how to fight back against the zombies.

His lazy treatment of two muslim countries, that *he* elides into basically one group/ culture of "fraternal muslim brothers" (If he never used those redundant three words together I would not be writing this), never-mind that Shia and Sunni hardly accept one anothers' religions. Additionally he has the Iranians use the same atom bombs that, he writes, were gifted to them by their "brother" Pakistanis. Ok he doesn't write out "ISNT THIS IRONIC?!" but... hey, my schadenfreude detector might be a little mis-calibrated.

On the other hand, you have his treatment of Israel, a country that is the first to figure out that there's going to be a global pandemic, *suddenly* opening its borders fully (before re-closing them) to give the fucking "right of return" to Palestinians refugees? How does that make sense in any world?

In any case I'm out.
posted by stratastar at 8:02 PM on June 14, 2012


And if you had criticized his lazy writing instead of accusing him of "taking pleasure" in writing about Muslim characters killing each other off, I would not be writing *this*.

I, too, am out.
posted by mediareport at 8:21 PM on June 14, 2012


Came back to change my mind; after re-reading the section about Israel early on in the plague, I have to agree with stratastar that the idea Israel would in the midst of a violent crisis suddenly decide to open itself to Palestinians with an earlier claim to land is pretty fucking ridiculous. Cringe-worthy, even. I grant that the handling of the Middle East and central Asia in the book is not the most nuanced, or the most sensitive to the realities of Palestinian politics, or even very sensitive at all to the history of portrayals of Muslims in Western pop culture. Thanks, stratastar, for making me think about that more deeply. It's also worth acknowledging that the book's real strength is in the individual stories, not in the larger-picture politics, much as I enjoyed a lot of that, too.

On the other hand, the "fraternal Muslim brothers" line comes from an Iranian military official surprised at how the Iran-Pakistan infected border crisis quickly escalated due to miscommunication and one stupid, stubborn Pakistani colonel into a nuclear war. Here's what the Iranian officer says:

No one thought it could happen, not between us. For God's sake, they helped us build our nuclear program from the ground up! They supplied the materials, the technology, the third party brokering with North Korea and Russian renegades...we wouldn't have been a nuclear power if it wasn't for our fraternal Muslim brothers. No one would have expected it, but no one would have expected the dead to rise, now would they? Only one could have forseen this, and I don't believe in him anymore.

Despite Sunni-Shia differences, it's very easy to defend a character's use of "fraternal Muslim brothers" as fairly ordinary Pan-Islamist rhetoric, without seeing it as evidence of some enormous failure of bigotry and/or imagination on Max Brooks' part. This is particularly true given the way folks like A.Q. Khan have spoken about the Iran-Pakistan relationship in the past:

...since Iran was an important Muslim country, we wished Iran to acquire this technology. Western countries pressured us unfairly. If Iran succeeds in acquiring nuclear technology, we will be a strong bloc in the region to counter international pressure. Iran's nuclear capability will neutralise Israel's power. We had advised Iran to contact the suppliers and purchase equipment from them...Be it Libya, Iran, or Pakistan, the same suppliers were responsible for providing the material through the same third party in Dubai...

It's not quite at "fraternal Muslim brothers," but it's not far outside the ballpark either.
posted by mediareport at 7:53 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do vampires with tapeworms have vampire tapeworms? And what would be the difference

The vampire's poop would sparkle in the sunlight or burst into flame in the sunlight, or lay there helpless in the sunlight, depending on if you're an Evans, Rice or Stoker fan.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:22 AM on June 15, 2012


Del Toro's The Stain is not, IMHO, all that good or well written, but does a lot in that direction.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on June 15, 2012


The Strain felt kind of like a fascinating train wreck for me. I was happy to read through to the end, but deeply unmotivated to seek out the sequels. And yes, it was an interesting fusion of zombie & vampire tropes.

I'm motivated to go look at WWZ now, too, based on this thread. I hadn't taken it seriously before, but now I will.
posted by lodurr at 1:32 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Stain would have been a hell of a miniseries.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on June 15, 2012


World War Z is one of several recent projects that underscore the risks associated with big effects films

Well, at least it will be different from the traditional zombie movie, which doesn't have a budget, and the "big effects" are kids combining enthusiasm with bulk sauce and other food-grade products.

I bet these guys have bulk sauce that's like, medical grade!
posted by -harlequin- at 11:58 PM on June 15, 2012


The Stain would have been a hell of a miniseries.

It's funny you should say that. I felt the same way. Much as my net on it leaned toward "Meh", yes, it would have been great episodic fare. And may yet be, who knows. It could well work as a sort of "next level" upped-ante for the zombie genre on TV. (I also think Del Toro probably did it this way on purpose. His cinema and comics experience, I would think.) It was really well constructed, and I have recommended it to people, it's just that something didn't work in it for me.)
posted by lodurr at 6:19 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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