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Danny Boyle, Zack Snyder, and John Romero walk^H^H^H^H run in to a mall...
September 7, 2010 12:33 AM   Subscribe

The Running of the Dead: How the shift from slow zombies to fast zombies inverts the political statement in the Dawn of the Dead remake, the Hobbesian influence on zombie narrative, and the implications for 28 Days Later. In four parts.
posted by 0xFCAF (192 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite

 
(via Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame)
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:35 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was just coming here to post this. It's definitely worth reading the whole thing.
posted by minifigs at 12:44 AM on September 7, 2010


> the implications for 28 Days Later.

One thing I would want to point out, and was often missed in 28 days later, is that they aren't considered zombies, but Rage Infected Humans. Anything that could kill a human, blood lose, shot through the heart, etc. would kill them. They don't have the shoot for the head thing going on, and more importantly, they eventually do starve to death and die (shown in the final scene). It is a very interesting take on the film, but if the film is about overthrowing the state and replacing it with new order, then the ending represents that no new order actually happens, because there is a larger "state" actor to take control. (ie Jets flying overhead, as it appears that the rest of the continent just isolated the island and let the infection run it's course, since again the rage infected humans eventually die of natural causes).

Romero's Zombies were (and to me still are) really deeply scary because they don't die easily, they aren't just crazed people, they were this massive wall of undead swarming that will not die of natural causes, because they are already dead.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:10 AM on September 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


Brilliant. But it seems to leave one aspect mostly aside (unless, very possibly, I misread a lot)...that the film is a warning against government, whose machinations caused the initial crisis, then promoted themselves as the solution to the crisis, and then ultimately showed that they are no better than they originally were. If anything, they are now worse. The film, therefore is a warning against believing in shucksters and charlatans in government and not to believe them the first time, nevermind later on down the road, no matter how desperate you are for a solution.

Or, in the other words of George W. Bush: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 1:22 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"then the ending represents that no new order actually happens, because there is a larger 'state' actor to take control. (ie Jets flying overhead, as it appears that the rest of the continent just isolated the island and let the infection run it's course, since again the rage infected humans eventually die of natural causes)."

In the sugar-coated US ending yes. Not in the original British ending.
posted by bardic at 1:24 AM on September 7, 2010


This is the best philosophical analysis I've ever seen. Utterly impressed.
posted by effugas at 1:25 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to like this. I love this kind of popular culture political/literary analysis, the more far-fetched the better, and I love 28 days later. But I don't know about this one. Maybe it's because it's late and I read the whole thing without my glasses and I don't have any love for any other zombie or horror movie (except I guess shaun of the dead). But I read that whole thing wondering when I was going to understand the point he kept gesturing at but never really articulating, and then wondering if he had watched the same 28 Days Later that I did, or if he had watched it to the end.

The obligation to kill is part of the horror. Hobbes’s entire point is that people living in a stateless condition don’t get to choose to be good people; life without a government requires brutality from everybody. When you slowly realize, watching Night of the Living Dead, that nearly all of the survivors are as violently brain-dead as the zombies, it’s a crushing experience—anyone who remembers that movie’s final credits will know what I mean: They force you to reevaluate everything that’s come before. But in 28 Days Later, the realization comes early and is no kind of surprise; it is simply built into the scenario.
part4

Did he see the part at the end where this bit is entirely turned on its head? Why would he make no reference to it, if he had? I guess in this kind of thing, you can be selective when there's a certain idea you're going after, as long as you clearly articulate that idea. But I don't know, I'm not convinced. I got the idea and I got the correlation but I kept waiting for him to shoot the bullet of his idea into the head of the zombie of the movies and it never happened.
posted by amethysts at 1:35 AM on September 7, 2010


I'll just say this: if you're cringing and rolling your eyes by the end of the first page, don't bother reading the rest.
posted by fleacircus at 1:38 AM on September 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Agreed. This is an awfully labored argument. He could just as easily written an equally labored argument as to why 28 Days Later and the Dawn remake are recapitulations of Rousseau. Would've made as much sense.
posted by Ritchie at 1:47 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed this a lot on a quick read, enough to want to return later and give it a more rigorous think-through. Even if it doesn't hold up very well on closer examination: nice.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:51 AM on September 7, 2010


Good read; helped resolve some questions I have about Snyder's movies as a whole. Thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 AM on September 7, 2010


But it seems to leave one aspect mostly aside (unless, very possibly, I misread a lot)...that the film is a warning against government, whose machinations caused the initial crisis

The author has a different take on the cause of the crisis: "the movie’s initial villains—or not villains, exactly, but the fuck-ups who precipitate the great catastrophe—are animal-rights activists, the stupid Left, which doesn’t understand animality, doesn’t understand violence, doesn’t understand “rage”—the movie’s key word, that one—doesn’t understand the dangers of freedom. The Left doesn’t understand that if one breaks down too many barriers, everything will spin out of control." The idea being that as we hippies are undermining the family by letting gays marry, sending our kids to rainbow parties, legalizing marijuana, letting too many Mexicans in the country etc., what we think of as increasing freedom is actually destabilizing the fragile membrane separating us from third world barbarism currently being desperately held together by Dick Cheney.

I think it's interesting that a half-Cuban/half-Lithuanian director living in the majority white America of the late sixties would make a movie where the "bad guy" was a large, oppressive, formally dressed white multitude, while two white directors in the growing multi-cultural society we live in today would make movies where the "bad guys" are individual fast moving savages who are visually tied to Muslims/refugees/etc. as explained in the article. Western civilization as so monolithic and powerful as to oppress those from different backgrounds in 1968 and as not powerful enough to protect its members from the barbarians in 2002 and 2004. Is it so hard to create a civilization which is just powerful enough but not too powerful? Dammit Obama get to work!
posted by ND¢ at 2:06 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


You can too over think a plate of brains.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:15 AM on September 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


ND¢ that comparison kind of simplifies and glosses over a big part of what happens in 28 Days Later.
posted by amethysts at 2:15 AM on September 7, 2010


Overthingking a plate of brains?




Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnssss.

I enjoyed the read, though there are things I didn't necessarily agree with. Parts of it seemed to be twisted and forced beyond recognition to fit his thesis. But it certainly gives me some fascinating points to bring to the table the next time I find myself in the whole "FAST ZOMBIES SUCK" conversation - I tend to fall into the "the speed of the zombies doesn't matter if the movie is good" camp; a surprisingly unpopular position.

One thing I would want to point out, and was often missed in 28 days later, is that they aren't considered zombies, but Rage Infected Humans.

See, you would think that that pointing this out would matter, but I have done it frequently enough to tell you it will only get you shushed. It's an interesting thing to bring up alongside this article, though, since the author seems to be saying that the makers of the films that do feature actual fast zombies were a)influenced to make them fast by 28 Days and b)may have missed the message that Boyle was ultimately attempting to convey.

However, the author refers to them as zombies throughout the article, and dammit, that is not what they are. If someone is going to devote this much thought, time, and energy to an article about zombies, it's a little surprising that they would not note the distinction, especially since, as Mr.Zarquon pointed out upthread, it makes a difference in how the film plays out as political allegory.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:26 AM on September 7, 2010


In the sugar-coated US ending yes. Not in the original British ending.

Fairly sure I saw it here in Lancashire with an aircraft at the end.
posted by alasdair at 2:28 AM on September 7, 2010


Thanks for posting this, it's an interesting take. I'm not taking from it so much that you need Hobbes to explain 28 Days Later, but rather that 28 Days Later provides a good, visceral introduction to what Hobbes was positing. The one statement that I need to mull over, but I think is informative, is relating modern zombies (or, y'know, rage infected humans) to the fear of angry masses and the effectiveness of speed at conveying a type of all-consuming, infectious anger. It makes me wonder if the next zombie movie won't have something to say about the tea party.

(This seems also to be the place to say that I've always thought the original Dawn of the Dead, while very entertaining, was more the movie version of ham-fisted political cartoon than it was clever allegory.)
posted by Schismatic at 2:39 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the sugar-coated US ending yes. Not in the original British ending.

Fairly sure I saw it here in Lancashire with an aircraft at the end.


There are multiple alternate endings - one of them, showing Jim dying in a deserted hospital after being shot, was shown first as the ending at test screenings (and is considered the 'real ending' by the director and producers) and latterly shown in some cinemas after the credits with a title screen saying 'What if...'. The bleakest possible interpretation of this is that the entire 'wave to the jets' sequence is a hallucination/dream that Jim has as he lies dying in the hospital.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:43 AM on September 7, 2010


My question in all this: Is 28 Weeks Later worth watching if I liked 28 Days Later?
posted by maxwelton at 2:44 AM on September 7, 2010


Hmm, I guess it's more complicated than a UK vs. US version. The original ending of the first cut was the dark, Jim dies one. While still being screened in the UK the happiness and light version was added (which was the original ending of the script). Then again, the linked article is pretty poorly written. Now I'm even more confused.

In the original ending they rush to the hospital and Jim dies, and the woman and girl will soon. The woman and the girl walk out of the hospital room with Jim's body on the slab and. . . that's it. It's pretty clear that no government or military is going to solve the mess, and there's no implication that the zombies will starve to death, at least not until rage has infected any survivors.

The darker ending is about 100x better than the sugar-coated one. Not sure why Boyle lost his nerve, since he's a director I really admire.

(And there was an even wierder and dumber third ending that got cooked up. You can check it out on the DVD.)
posted by bardic at 2:47 AM on September 7, 2010


"Is 28 Weeks Later worth watching if I liked 28 Days Later?"

No. A different director did an incredibly shitty job trying to cash in on the original. Terrible acting as well.
posted by bardic at 2:49 AM on September 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


* MINOR SPOILER*



Its worth watching the first 15 minutes of 28 weeks later, very intense encounter of infected getting into uninfected house, goes downhill after that as bardic says, starts ignoring the rules set out in the first film, with 'intelligent' zombie stalking uninfected.
posted by biffa at 2:56 AM on September 7, 2010


No. A different director did an incredibly shitty job trying to cash in on the original. Terrible acting as well.

Huh, I quite enjoyed it honestly. It's much more action-ey with lots of Marines running around shooting things and blowing things up, but the ending is super, super bleak and there's some pretty tense sequences (the night-vision London Underground escalator moment, for example). It's worth a rental IMHO.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:56 AM on September 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was just thinking about this the other day. 28 Days Later is probably the scariest movie I've ever seen, the only one I can remember that has actually given me nightmares. And I don't mean once or twice right after seeing it the first time, but ongoing. I just had one the other day, out of the blue.

It's not any particular moment in the movie that bugs me, but the whole idea of the "Rage" virus -- a ridiculously contagious disease that strikes almost instantly, turning regular people into rabid psychopaths. There's a big squick factor because of the virus's ebola-like association with blood and other Precious Bodily Fluids. The infected bleed out their eyes, vomit blood as a weapon, and of course the slightest exposure to their blood or saliva will turn you. It's one of the more effective forms of body horror I've seen.

But the main thing is the immediacy of it, and how that plays out in the world. Take one infected, drop them in any populated place, and it's pretty much game over. Not just for that area, but for the entire continent. There's just no containing it. The original movie wisely leaves this part to the imagination, but the sequel does a pretty good job of bringing the horror to life. If you haven't seen it, just imagine the patterns of mass hysteria emergent in this simulator happening in real life. Anticipatory panic, stampedes, individual attacks and violence rapidly multiplying into a terrifying exponential clusterfuck. (For added fun, try this variant that lets you "nuke" small circles of land, where even "successful" containment leaves a devastated wasteland pockmarked with craters.) All this is what makes the final scene in the sequel so disturbing. If you know anything about geography, it's easy to fill in the blanks.

And naturally with all this panic comes the expected responses. The impotent crackdown by the authorities, the rapid breakdown of society, the chilling every-man-for-himself attitude seen at the start of the second movie. And the nature of this particular zombie apocalypse only makes the world even more brutal and pitiless. At least with traditional zombies you have a chance to outrun them, to fight back, to build little barricades and ramshackle forts. The threat is slow, relentless, and exhausting, but manageable if you're smart and prepared. But with "fast zombies," especially ones as contagious as these, there's virtually no hope. Even surviving just one requires outrunning or killing a very strong, very fast, very homicidal maniac. And doing it quickly, without getting infected yourself. Seeing a pack of them, on the other hand, is like seeing a mile-high tsunami.

But as scary as it all is, I think it would make a great video game. And not in the manic, mile-a-minute bloodbath way like Left 4 Dead, but in a slower, stealthier, survival horror sort of way. Imagine GTA IV sprinkled with a handful of 28 Days Later-style infected, and you have to pick your way across the city, either in the midst of the panic or in the abandoned streets afterward.

Anyway. If you're creeped out by the movies too (and are a glutton for punishment), see the following short films which were produced as a companion to the 28 Weeks Later DVD:

Jealous Rage
28 Seconds Later
Welcome to London
The End is Extremely Fucking Nigh
Saturday Afternoon
77 Days Later

See also this question I asked a couple years ago about whether fast-acting and/or behavior-changing diseases are biologically feasible.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:57 AM on September 7, 2010 [37 favorites]


Also, it didn't have the disappointing arc of every Danny Boyle horror/action movie I've ever seen, vis "Incredible, haunting, evocative and eerie opening, tense middle, ridiculous schlocky blood-soaked ending." For example:

28 Days Later - haunting visions of a doomed city, chaos, uncertainty, end of the world, followed by the Hammer House of Horror complete with thunder and lightning.

Sunshine - Visually boggling, atmospheric, end of the world, creepy middle - crazy dude with skin hanging off goes mental.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:00 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


munchingzombie: "You can too over think a plate of brains."

However, zombies prefer to think over a plate of brains.

As much as a zombie can think, that is.
posted by bwg at 3:04 AM on September 7, 2010


Wow, crikey Rhaomi, that 'Welcome to London' video is pretty damn Hobbesian.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:24 AM on September 7, 2010


Imagine GTA IV sprinkled with a handful of 28 Days Later-style infected

Now I want nothing else! GTA:San Andreas had a virtual recreation of the 1992 Los Angeles riots in the final mission of the game. Making some sort of mod to model a zombie infection seems within the realm of possibility.
posted by Harald74 at 4:13 AM on September 7, 2010


Also, it didn't have the disappointing arc of every Danny Boyle horror/action movie I've ever seen, vis "Incredible, haunting, evocative and eerie opening, tense middle, ridiculous schlocky blood-soaked ending." For example:

28 Days Later - haunting visions of a doomed city, chaos, uncertainty, end of the world, followed by the Hammer House of Horror complete with thunder and lightning.

Sunshine - Visually boggling, atmospheric, end of the world, creepy middle - crazy dude with skin hanging off goes mental.


Wow, yeah, it never occurred to me that I was disappointed by those two films for the exact same reason.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:24 AM on September 7, 2010


Imagine GTA IV sprinkled with a handful of 28 Days Later-style infected

I think I'd rather have L4D with GTAIV-style open-world city and vehicles (since the FPS view-point makes things WAY more claustrophobic and scary than a 3rd-person view) rather than GTAIV with zombies. But yeah, would pay money for this game.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:26 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The modern zombie flick has epidemic at its core, and you can shuffle that off to the side by noting that the plots always have them as manmade, but generally the downfall comes from a disease epidemic.
posted by nervousfritz at 4:35 AM on September 7, 2010


In Night of the Living Dead, which is the movie that, in 1968, set the ideological horizon for the entire genre, the walkers are the recently dead, which means they are still wearing their funeral gear. They are dressed in formal wear; dressed conservatively, I mean, in black suits and Sunday frocks.

Only a couple of zombies are in suits, the costumes range from suits to overalls to nightgowns to a shirtless guy.

Very early on, the movie shows a large, street-side message board, entirely papered over with flyers, Xeroxed photographs, hand-drawn pleas to the missing, all clearly modeled on the post-traumatic Litfaßsäulen of Manhattan.

The commentary track for 28 Days Later clearly states that this was shot before 9/11.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:16 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Myths change and mutate over time. Any classics prof can tell you that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Did he see the part at the end where this bit is entirely turned on its head? Why would he make no reference to it, if he had?

Speaking of not reading to the end, he does in fact address this.
posted by DU at 5:26 AM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The darker ending is about 100x better than the sugar-coated one.

For my money, neither ending works properly, given what's just happened (and if you haven't seen it yet, stop reading now).

Jim's been running around the house, killing people in the dark, spattered with blood (and let's not forget the scene where he kills a soldier by driving his thumbs through the man's eyes), and after he escapes he shoots another soldier through the head. We see yet another soldier discovering his body - it's the man sitting in the jeep - and the corpse is sitting upright in his seat, with a bullet hole in the side of his head, implying that Jim shot him without any warning when the man wasn't a direct threat.

Basically, Jim hasn't just fought the monsters, he's become a monster, and even though he's not infected with the Rage virus his behaviour is pretty much indistinguishable from someone who has. In fact, the only difference is that Jim is still intelligent, allowing him to perform acts far more inventively cruel than the monsters.

Selena, on the other hand, may be ruthless (we see her kill her infected companion without a second thought) but she's still got her humanity. This means that my ideal ending would have been for Selena to find Jim in the house and immediately kill him as the monster that he clearly is.

As things stand, either Jim dies quietly, with no resolution as to his change of character, or he becomes completely redeemed for no apparent reason in the space of about five minutes and leads an inspiring fightback. Either way, it seems that Boyle was building up to a really interesting comment on the nature of humanity and monstrosity, and then completely bottled it and took not just one easy way out, but two.
posted by ZsigE at 5:27 AM on September 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


I am so frackin' sick of zombies. The conceit of zombies bothers me on some very fundamental levels and I cannot understand our popular fascination with them.
posted by kalessin at 5:28 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


The conceit of zombies bothers me on some very fundamental levels and I cannot understand our popular fascination with them.

Kind of answered the question posed by the second half of your sentence with the statement made by the first half.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:33 AM on September 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Selena, on the other hand, may be ruthless (we see her kill her infected companion without a second thought) but she's still got her humanity. This means that my ideal ending would have been for Selena to find Jim in the house and immediately kill him as the monster that he clearly is.

Ah yes, but there's an interesting thought inside this observation - Selena watches Jim kill a soldier by pushing his eyes into his skull, is not sure if he's been infected, but can't bring herself to kill him. If he had been infected, that hesitance would have killed her, in a direct justification of her earlier assertion that killing without hesitation or mercy was the only way to stay alive against the Rage.

But it's alright, y'see, because he's not got the Rage, he's just brutally killed someone of his own volition.

There are so many layers of weirdness all wrapped up in a big bag of horror cliches at the end of that movie that it makes my head hurt. It's like after the roadblock scene you're watching a totally different film.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:44 AM on September 7, 2010


am so frackin' sick of zombies. The conceit of zombies bothers me on some very fundamental levels and I cannot understand our popular fascination with them.
posted by kalessin at 5:28 AM on September 7 [+] [!]


All we need is The Ultimate Zombie movie against the The Ultimate Vampire movie and we can be done with the lot of both.
posted by Thistledown at 5:44 AM on September 7, 2010


Basically, Jim hasn't just fought the monsters, he's become a monster, and even though he's not infected with the Rage virus his behaviour is pretty much indistinguishable from someone who has.
...
It's like after the roadblock scene you're watching a totally different film.

You guys should RTFA.
posted by DU at 5:47 AM on September 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


I thought it was a zombie movie.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:54 AM on September 7, 2010


I think the second film was actually pretty decent, though it does jettison the careful thought Boyle'd put into the first film, which the article does a pretty good job of outlining. 28 Weeks is radically different, but in terms of a horror film, it does the trick of scaring the bejeesus out of me (the above mentioned subway tunnel, for instance). After all, what's scarier than the idea of Francis Begby chasing you through London, but enragified?

The end is predictable, but well done, and as bleak as a decent zombie movie should be.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:59 AM on September 7, 2010


Basically, Jim hasn't just fought the monsters, he's become a monster, and even though he's not infected with the Rage virus his behaviour is pretty much indistinguishable from someone who has.
...
It's like after the roadblock scene you're watching a totally different film.

You guys should RTFA.


I did, and I thought his casting of Jim as a revolutionary usurping the promised (and illusory) security of autocratic government in the form of the last platoon was a massive reach and crediting Boyle's script with a cleverness which I don't think it actually has. If there's one word that describes the ending of 28 Days Later, it's muddled, and squeezing that muddle into your pet theory of Hobbesian brutality and right-wing thinking doesn't necessarily make it so. It's an interesting piece though, despite some of the more egregious reaches.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:59 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


28 Days Later is a zombie movie because what makes a zombie movie a zombie movie is not that the antagonist is a mass of walking corpses but rather the conversion of most human beings into a mass of heavily-othered predators that destroys society.

A proper I Am Legend adaptation would be a zombie movie despite the antagonists technically being vampires.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:22 AM on September 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


A proper I Am Legend adaptation would be a zombie movie despite the antagonists technically being vampires.

Whooooaaaaaa. Despite having read the original I Am Legend, I somehow never noticed this. Vampires acting like zombies. I wonder what the article author thinks of that book.
posted by DU at 6:32 AM on September 7, 2010


Fast zombies are like death for people who find themselves bored in their spare time.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:44 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Is 28 Weeks Later worth watching if I liked 28 Days Later?"

I did. It's not like 28 Days Later of course, and that's one of it's strong points. It doesn't look backward, but forwards. The tone is different, it's more about societies survival vs the individual (or small group), but still so good and satisfying.

My only questions is what would they name a third movie? 28 Months Later seems like too long of a time span. Perhaps accelerate it, call it 28 Hours Later? Keep the progression going, 28 Minutes, then 28 seconds where the world explodes?

Anyway, fast zombies are the way to go, it's slow zombies that always seemed unreal to me. As a metaphor for life and realization that the American utopia of the '50s never really existed, that our concerns over consumerism are childish distractions from the harsh brutality of life even as the acceleration of Western society continues via the internet, fast zombies rule. Fast zombies are an natural product of our own society. Slow zombies no longer scare or frighten us, so we need new monsters.

That fact that this new monsters are created by a combination of ignorant science and political theory and filled with pure rage seems like a predication of the Tea Party movement.
posted by nomadicink at 6:50 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes. An iceberg. That'll do.
posted by swift at 7:01 AM on September 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


I weep for a world where 2 years and 4 months is "too long of a time span" to care what happened after a zombie apocalypse.

Personally, I'd be pretty interested in knowing what happens 28 years and even decades later.
posted by DU at 7:02 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


28 Days Later descends into cheese once they are taken prisoner by the soldiers and Jim assumes the role of macho male adventure movie star, and has to rescue the helpless ladies. That's about half the film.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:04 AM on September 7, 2010


I guess people can enjoy and appreciate movies in a thousand different ways, but making this kind of critique is not one that I understand.

It was an interesting read, and the guy obviously has some understanding of the political philosophy he's describing, and I'm glad for the FPP—but am I the only one who feels like the author just pulled this out of his (admittedly erudite) ass?

I mean, couldn't you make an equally compelling argument in the exact opposite direction, if you just cherry-picked a different set of qualities from the films, and interpreted them in a different way? Seems to me that any exercise in beanplating the sociopolitical implications of slow zombies vs. fast zombies will necessarily be straining around the four-page mark.

I don't think Thorne has proven anything about what the movie "means"; he's only proven what it means to him. Which is fine, but it seems presumptuous to suggest that his interpretation was the director's intent, or that it's "the" meaning of the film.

Sure, a movie (or any other "text"), here and there, will naturally betray the predilections of its creator (political and otherwise)—but sometimes a zombie movie is just a zombie movie. Seems like this guy would be a drag to watch movies with:

"DUDE DID YOU SEE THAT, HE JUST TOTALLY BLASTED THE SHIT OUT OF THAT ZOMBIE, FUCK YES"

"Well actually, the relevant subtext here has to do with the Dutch hegemony in South Africa during the Second Boer War. The fact that the soldier shot the zombie in the head, and that the zombie walks with a shuffling gait, clearly delineates the zombies as a symbol of Afrikaner Calvinism, and the soldiers as a symbol of—"
posted by ixohoxi at 7:07 AM on September 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


The author makes a lot of the opening credits to Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, but doesn't mention the music that accompanies the montage. Sure, you've got found footage of a prayer call, a riot, etc., but underneath it all (or above it all, actually) is Johnny Cash's "When The Man Comes Around." The song, if you don't recall, is from Cash's 2002 album, one of his last produced by Rick Rubin. And in it, he reads from the Book of Revelation and tells a warning tale about a "whirlwind in a thorn tree." To my mind, this is a song of The End, of chickens coming home to roost.

There’s a man going around taking names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won’t be treated all the same
There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the Man comes around


What this says to me, in light of the footage gathered, is that all of these earthly protestations and supplications have been for naught. The rioters, those at prayer, they needn't have bothered. Judgment Day is here, nobody made the cut and now you're all on your own.

That said, as much as I enjoyed Snyder's Dawn, I don't believe the movie came anywhere near the promise of those opening credits. In fact, the closest to that stark ideal isn't on the big screen, but only between the pages of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:10 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I weep for a world where 2 years and 4 months is "too long of a time span" to care what happened after a zombie apocalypse.

No, it's not too long to care, but since the disease spreads so quickly, 28 months seems like it would all be over. Plus the idea of accelerating the time seems appealing at first thought.

Personally, I'd be pretty interested in knowing what happens 28 years and even decades later.

I highly recommended Matt Wagner's comic book series "Grendel" which spans centuries, with aggression as its central theme. Issues 1-40 are slowly building masterpiece.
posted by nomadicink at 7:10 AM on September 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


ixohoxi, that's generally how I feel. Political interpretation of perceived subtext in entertainment is an old game, and entertaining in itself as long as one keeps a bit salt shaker in hand at all times.
I can't remember which author or filmmaker it was who responded to a detailed political analysis of their work with a "very interesting, but I was just making a movie."
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:12 AM on September 7, 2010


Further thinking: seems like people inherently allegorize movie characters and try to create larger associations from the characters and events in a movie. If we didn't, we wouldn't keep upsetting ourselves by drawing extrapolations from them - "that woman is a ditz, they're saying that all women are ditzes! "that man is black and broke a law, they're saying that all black men break laws!" etc.
It can be really hard to keep the experience of entertainment to the level of the single individual before you, and allow them to be their own characters and not torchbearers for every group they share a characteristic with. This kind of political analysis is just more of the same, with footnotes.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:20 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Basically, Jim hasn't just fought the monsters, he's become a monster, and even though he's not infected with the Rage virus his behaviour is pretty much indistinguishable from someone who has. In fact, the only difference is that Jim is still intelligent, allowing him to perform acts far more inventively cruel than the monsters.

That was always my read on it. Never bothered trying to inject any political subtext. It's about how anybody can descend into that sort of brutality, virus or no.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:22 AM on September 7, 2010


I actually think that the happy ending was the bravest and best choice for 28 Days Later. Too many horror movies rely on the cliche of the "one last scare!" ending or the "and everyone died, so the story you saw had scarcely any point!" ending or the "but it was all for nought, because the monsters are still around you, they're around us all, smacking their lips and tucking in their bibs and brandishing their knives and forks!"

Part of what made Boyle's film so interesting was that it was plotted a bit more like a novel than a movie. Instead of a plot where man meets zombie, man fights zombie, and man defeats zombie, we had a seemingly two-pronged plot: our hero meets the zombies, but then he meets the military, and through it all he has to use his wits, his newfound allies, and by the end, his buried instinctual rage to survive. Much more interesting. It's a bit lumpy as far as structure goes, but on the bright side, the weirdly-structured 28 Days Later lives on and a heap of professionally-plotted garbage sits rotting in a $5.99 two-for-one DVD box.

What I like best about the ending is in how his rage saves his life. The irony was that, in becoming like a monster - if not even worse than a monster, because at least the monsters have a disease to excuse themselves - he saves the day. The happy ending makes it all the more fun, because now you have to reconcile the dark place our hero had to go to with the sunny fact that he's being rescued - and you also have to reconcile the irony of how happy it is for them to be rescued, except doesn't the ending also entail the grim idea that Great Britain was left to rot until the zombie plague had sorted itself out?

...

As for Sunshine, I'm a huge fan of that as well. I thought the whole bit with Searle was one of the strangest places that movie could have gone, actually, especially when you transpose the whole slasher thing with the cosmic stuff that had become before and that bizarre Escherian finale. My one complaint is that they named their ship the Icarus 2, but seemed surprised that their mission was going to be a suicide mission straight into the sun. Didn't they even look on the side of their own ship?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:23 AM on September 7, 2010 [11 favorites]



Sure, a movie (or any other "text"), here and there, will naturally betray the predilections of its creator (political and otherwise)—but sometimes a zombie movie is just a zombie movie.

I like this kind of thing because it's fun to find new ways to think about things. It's fun to say "I'm going to set out to make a statement and then back it up using published sources" and then try to make your case. Sometimes the purpose is "I want to say something about such and such theory and I'll show you what I mean using this pop culture artifact." I wrote an impromptu paper about last week's Mad Men vs. Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf during the commercial breaks because it was amusing to me. There's no universal truth of what anything means; the only thing that means something is what you can prove. Saying that one meaning exists doesn't preclude others. It doesn't preclude what the author intended. It doesn't preclude a theory that there's no meaning at all. They all coexist.
posted by amethysts at 7:24 AM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of astonished that so many here would be so set against interpreting modern zombie movies politically when the original zombie movies are so classically interpreted that way. How could you make a zombie movie in 2004 and NOT at least nod at the politics of the original(s)?
posted by DU at 7:24 AM on September 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


You guys should all read Stephen King's Danse Macabre, where he goes in depth about "horror is what we're really afraid of in real life" concept.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:25 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


My only questions is what would they name a third movie? 28 Months Later seems like too long of a time span.

Last I'd heard, 28 Months Later was a go, from the director of The Cottage, set in Moscow, but IMDB now longer has this listed.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:27 AM on September 7, 2010


I'm kind of astonished that so many here would be so set against interpreting modern zombie movies politically when the original zombie movies are so classically interpreted that way. How could you make a zombie movie in 2004 and NOT at least nod at the politics of the original(s)?

Romero has said pretty much the same thing.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:29 AM on September 7, 2010


PG has it right about what a zombie narrative is, I think. Those of y'all saying that the 28 zombies don't count 'cause they're explicitly the victims of a known pathogen are missing the point - taking this sort of "no true zombie" stance results in The Serpent and the Rainbow being the only proper zombie film.
posted by jtron at 7:33 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


So 28 Days Later is the one where we find out what happened to Sandra Bullock, right?
posted by kmz at 7:38 AM on September 7, 2010


I'm kind of astonished that so many here would be so set against interpreting modern zombie movies politically when the original zombie movies are so classically interpreted that way. How could you make a zombie movie in 2004 and NOT at least nod at the politics of the original(s)?

Zack Snyder.
posted by Artw at 7:48 AM on September 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


I get tired of "this is clearly the director's intent" analyses (and don't think this is one — it talks about why the deliberately structured plot works), too, but readings like this are valuable (and don't supersede awesome action scenes). By reframing 28 Days Later into the Hobbesian context, it changes the intuitive associations one makes regarding both. Thinking is hard, intuition is not; good fiction can exploit that. Connections that are clear in a zombie movie context are not clear in political philosophy and vice versa. Does that mean that the movie proves anything about Hobbes? Of course not, it's a work of fiction. But, because it established a different way of thinking about something, it gives one the kernel of a thought that might not be had from either the movie or the philosophy on its own.

One of the things I adore about early Battlestar Galactica, to use another example with fun action scenes, is that it had a story that strongly evoked, but rarely exactly paralleled, complex political situations. Often, the gut response I had to events on the show contrasted strongly with ones I had to reasonably similar real situations, and that forced me to think about precisely where my reactions were coming from in each case.
posted by Schismatic at 7:53 AM on September 7, 2010


but sometimes a zombie movie is just a zombie movie. Seems like this guy would be a drag to watch movies with

Yeah, but the best movies can be entertaining as you watch and then make you think about them later. The implications of Romero's Dead movies have been quibbled over for decades. Why not 28 Days Later?

I worked on a "making of" special for this movie, and listening to Danny Boyle - I have no doubt that a lot of what this essay says went through his mind at one point. Boyle really thinks about these kinds of things, sometimes to the point of alienating his audience. (I remember people didn't like the ending, even with the tacked on happy bits.)

Meanwhile, I'm quite curious about 170 Hours, his new movie. Seems the man has a prediliection for titles based on time periods.
posted by fungible at 7:56 AM on September 7, 2010


28 Months Later seems like too long of a time span.

It could be really cool, though not necessarily about zombies per se. It could be a really interesting chance to step up a level to worldbuilding: what happened to the governing structures across the world? If they were destroyed, what replaced them? Do all the remaining citizens agree with the new government, if there even is one? Were all countries affected? Did the unaffected countries try to make a grab for the affected ones once they thought they were safe, or before? What kind of changes were imposed on the world of scientific research as a result of this - banned, controlled, research facilities full of rage subjects being used instead of lab animals?
There are just so many interesting ways the fallout from an event of that nature could be looked at.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:56 AM on September 7, 2010


I mean, 127 Hours. Shit.
posted by fungible at 8:00 AM on September 7, 2010


I'm never sure about these articles that attempt to de-construct modern films: the reasoning in this piece seems to rely on a narrow reading of the source material. I agree that the "fast" zombies probably represent the barbarian at the gates, but that doesn't equate with pro-authoritarianism.

For example, in 28 Days Later the only remaining authority (Christopher Eccleston's military unit holed up in a mansion house in the countryside) represents a threat that's probably even worse than the Infected: a return of feudalistic authority that uses the fear of zombie hordes to maintain it's control.

Indeed, the hero of 28 Days Later must embrace the very thing he fears most, the Rage infected humans, to resist the greater threat of authority. He goes as far as releasing infected into Eccleston's base and even imitating the infected's tactics so that he becomes almost unidentifiable to the heroine as infected or uninfected. In my mind an ambiguous message at best.

Also, you can't properly deconstruct 28 Days Later without understanding that it has a double-heritage. It's certainly inherits much from Romero's Night of the Living Dead, but it's also heavily influenced by British post-apocalyptic science fiction, including such venerable works as The Day of the Triffids, Survivors, and Threads.

These works focus a lot more on the return to agrarian culture and the rise of feudalism in the absence of non-authoritarian, democratic governments.
posted by axon at 8:03 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm never going to have children because I would perpetually be thinking "my god, there are people who care more about relative zombie speeds than I care about my children, I'm a terrible person".
posted by Wolfdog at 8:05 AM on September 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


Part of what made Boyle's film so interesting was that it was plotted a bit more like a novel than a movie.

There's a simple explanation for that: 28 Days Later was a novel first... in a sense. Boyle acknowledges that Garland's story is inspired by John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids (the tidy, effective little novel, not the loopy 1962 movie). But "inspired by" is pretty hazy.

Anyone familiar with the novel can tell you it's more than a vague inspiration, and treads into the territory of either a loving homage or a straight-up rip-off, depending how you look at it. 28 Days Later is embroidered with references and allusions to the rich tradition of zombie and apocalypse stories, sure, but the influence of Day of the Triffids is more than just a passing in-joke or a nod to a predecessor. Many major plotpoints and scenes are lifted wholesale from the novel, just replacing the ambulatory, whip-fast, venom-spewing, flesh-eating plants with whip-fast, venomous-blood-spewing, flesh-eating humans*.

*They are not zombies they are not zombies they are NOT ZOMBIES fergoodnesssake y'all or the meaning of "zombie" becomes so vague as to have no meaning deep breath sigh. For one thing, zombies are DEAD. We can quibble about all the other characteristics, but if it ain't dead, it ain't a zombie.

It's amazing to me how closely the film parallels Wyndham's book, from the waking scene in the hospital to the early-morning walk through post-catastrophe London to the pugnacious young woman he teams up with to their informal adoption of a young girl to the Army rape-camp to their isolated camp off on the coast to the final rescue by air... all of that is straight from Day of the Triffids.

The first time I saw 28DL, I had no previous knowledge that Garland was "inspired by" DotT, but it was patently obvious before the film was even over. In fact, I rewound the credits, sure that I'd find a "story by John Wyndham" credit.

And in fact, a familiarity with the ending of DotT strips some of the sweetness from the end of 28DL (and here I'm speaking of the cheery rescue-by-air end, not one of the alternate endings). In the book, the protagonists --- man, woman, young girl --- hole up in a well-defended cottage and keep the triffids at bay. It's a tough life but a happy one, and with constant work, they might stay safe indefinitely.

But eventually signs of society rebuilding itself penetrate even to their distant outpost, which heralds the destruction of their happy home: the representative of survivors colony finds them during an air survey and urges them to join the colony on the Isle of Wight; a squad of soldiers arrive and tell them their claiming the house, breaking up the de facto family, and drafting them into service. Their peace is destroyed by the re-appearance of structured society.

And when Selena succeeds in hailing the airplane at the end of 28 Days Later, that's what I'm thinking of --- not "oh boy, they're saved!" but "oh boy, they're screwed."
posted by Elsa at 8:24 AM on September 7, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm never going to have children because I would perpetually be thinking "my god, there are people who care more about relative zombie speeds than I care about my children, I'm a terrible person".

Easy - turn it into "I have to be prepared to protect my children against those who argue about zombie speeds, because when the Rage virus is finally released I will have to protect my real children against a real zombie apocalypse!".
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 8:29 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty shocked that no one has pointed out the obvious problem with the FPP title (unless 0xFCAF meant it as a joke): it's George Romero, FFS, who as far as I know never threatened to make anyone his bitch in an ad.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:31 AM on September 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


a squad of soldiers arrive and tell them their claiming the house, breaking up the de facto family, and drafting them into service. Their peace is destroyed by the re-appearance of structured society.

yeah, that's what I got from the ending and themes of 28DL: small groups are the optimal survival option, particularly those bound by working closely together and developing deep trust. It's when you get so big that individuals no larger matter that problems start.

'course that neatly avoids asking the question of what would have happened if the happy family at the end had to live like that for the rest of their lives, especially without medical care or the infrastructure society provides.
posted by nomadicink at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2010


I don't know how much reframing must be done. 28 Days Later always appeared rather explicitly to be all about the nasty business of survival. Boyle even shot Jim's scenes where he's running about the fortress with eye-gouging mayhem using the same camera and setup as was used with the Infected. Even the Infection itself, with its startling rapidity, is meant to suggest that human beings do not require wholesale transformation by some retrovirus inserting itself into our DNA or even a long incubation before things get bad, but rather that we require just the tiniest nudge before our violent natures surface. It might be twenty seconds of virus, or a quick riot as people attempt to flee this plague (climbing over one another in a bone-shattering frenzy is clearly meant to evoke the mad scramble of the infected primates), or something like saving your companions from, well, rape-slavery, but the very large Washington Monument point of the film is that humans are fairly savage underneath. No reframing required.

It's a pretty common theme in almost every movie with zombies ("unsafe at any speed") and, for that matter, most of the end of the world scenarios. As central authority breaks down, played out in each of these films or novels or comics is a bubbling up of the less appealing, petty, vicious motivations in human nature. The Hobbesian bits are more or less pointing at the large obvious thing blinking in front of you.
posted by adipocere at 8:37 AM on September 7, 2010


'course that neatly avoids asking the question of what would have happened if the happy family at the end had to live like that for the rest of their lives, especially without medical care or the infrastructure society provides.

A, but Wyndham's book does ask that, and it's pretty clear that the three main characters (and especially the adults) are thoughtfully balancing the benefits of society against its costs --- and not only the technological and medical benefits, but the social ones. In particular, they're wondering what will become of their adopted daughter, who is growing up: whether she'll ever meet someone to marry, whether she'll ever have children, whether she'll ever even have friends.
posted by Elsa at 8:39 AM on September 7, 2010


Slow zombies no longer scare or frighten us, so we need new monsters.

For my money, the thing that's so great about slow zombies is that they aren't particularly scary, most of the time, which makes them a pretty good metaphor vehicle. As in Romero's Dawn, it's pretty easy to get complacent around zombies, because they're more slow and stupid than threatening. You make sport of shooting them on an ice rink, or clubbing them while running through a shopping mall, and pretty soon you don't think twice about what is, by all rights, an existential horror that permeates the environment around you. Fast zombies are maybe better movie monsters, but slow zombies are creepy in the same way that a lot of life is creepy.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:40 AM on September 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


For more on the undead as a metaphor; Simon Pegg's 2008 Zombies Don't Run.
posted by quin at 8:44 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


For my money, the thing that's so great about slow zombies is that they aren't particularly scary, most of the time, which makes them a pretty good metaphor vehicle.

And even without the metaphor, slow zombies are scary for a big, big reason: they are inexorable. The individual lumbering zombie isn't much of a threat, but the exponentially growing mass of them is, because they never sleep, they never rest, they never stop multiplying, and sooner or later, they will be everywhere.

Just during this thread, I realized one other reason why the infected humans of 28 Days Later didn't scare me down to the bone: there's nothing insidious about them, nothing subtle or slow or hidden. They get sprayed or splashed or bitten and ---- BAM --- they're snarling and lunging and spraying blood. It's horrific, but it's so sudden. There's no slow burn, no gradual unease.

For me, that's a big part of the threat of the zombie movie: any one of the people holed up with you in your refuge may be harboring a bite, may be about to drop dead and turn into a zombie, and you don't know it. Or, and I don't know which would be worse, you do know it and you have to decide what to do about it. And it will happen. It's inevitable.

Boyle's not-zombies turn to vicious blood-spitting monsters so very fast, which is jolting and horrible, but there's no lurking fear, no deeply unsettling, slowly growing mistrust, no sense of slow disintegration of the makeshift community. That's what makes the old-school zombie horror so effective for me: that even the people you trust the most cannot be trusted, often through no fault of their own.
posted by Elsa at 8:51 AM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm happy I read this entire thread before responding, because I was about to write something very like the following, then was delighted to see that Sticherbeast had already pleasantly done so for me:

What I like best about the ending is in how his rage saves his life. The irony was that, in becoming like a monster - if not even worse than a monster, because at least the monsters have a disease to excuse themselves - he saves the day. The happy ending makes it all the more fun, because now you have to reconcile the dark place our hero had to go to with the sunny fact that he's being rescued - and you also have to reconcile the irony of how happy it is for them to be rescued, except doesn't the ending also entail the grim idea that Great Britain was left to rot until the zombie plague had sorted itself out?

That is absolutely my favorite thing about this ending -- "Welp, all over! We did it! Don't worry about how we got here!" As stand-in for historical narrative, it's infuriatingly blithe in exactly the way that I think humanity tends to be. "The holocaust sure was fucked up! Good thing we killed that Hitler chap!"

Anyway, I really loved this article, particularly its wonderfully toothsome turns of phrase on the sentence-by-sentence level:

this killer then peels off his mask and reveals himself to be … Brendan Gleeson, an actor of excellent good cheer, boozy and lummoxing, a kind of human wassail.

Hee!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:53 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought this analysis was really clever.

On the surface, maybe it doesn't matter, and zombie movies definitely don't matter. But if analyzing them you can learn something about the culture that created them, and the message they condone, then you're getting somewhere.

These movies quietly proselytize. They teach you to associate images of angry, swarthy people in dirty streets with horror and fear, and dare you, just dare you to call in the authorities for help.

It's subtle, and it's nasty. I have a hard time with horror movies. Many of them really, deeply bother me with the messages and fear that they're trying to spread. Others, like the early Romero films, are just SO DAMN CLEVER that they're worth a chuckle.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:54 AM on September 7, 2010


[spoilers below]

28 Days Later is definitely the superior film, but I like the dichotomy presented by Days versus Weeks. The first movie is a few scrappy survivors against chaos and terror. Even when they gain some level of control and stability (Brendan Gleeson's apartment, the military installation) it's never more than the shelter of a sandcastle against the crushing tide.

The second movie, on the other hand, is presented from the complementary perspective -- the world as a whole is safe, and is trying to "reconquer" Britain and defeat the infection. There's a thinly veiled allegory about the U.S. military's arrogance in thinking they can control something they don't understand simply through operational discipline and sheer force, but to the surprise of none of us, they fail when presented with an "unanticipated contingency".

28 Weeks Later's opening sequence is remarkable but more in the theme of the first movie. The bellwether moments for Weeks' own story are the ones in which the trappings of organization and force work against the people of the safe city:

First is when the civilians are herded into the underground area and made to wait in a large crowd. Inevitably, "following the rules" backfires as a single infected creates a chain reaction and mass panic. It's a dehumanizing moment, commonly seen in these movies but well executed here.

Second is when the snipers can't differentiate between the infected and the terrified survivors. They end up firing on everyone, which is a calculated, disciplined response that is completely inapplicable to the situation because missing even a single infected means total mission failure.

28 Weeks Later is an underrated movie. It certainly has flaws, but it offers a nice counterpoint to 28 Days Later while offering some powerful images and metaphors and being a passable genre entry.

In the end, the Rage virus is a façade. The opening scene of Days almost suggests that it doesn't even exist but is merely the manifestation of human violence (I'm referring here to the Clockwork Orange-style experiment on the gorilla). Violence in the Later universe begets violence in the strictest sense possible, and that's a human flaw beyond any measure of survival (Days) or control (Weeks). We have met the enemy and he is us.

So. In order, we've seen the uninfected as the underdogs, and then the infected as the underdogs. The trilogy path for this series is fairly obvious: even the odds. Eurasia is infected and the rest of the world is united against it in some way. Extermination of the Rage virus is no longer an option but every effort must be made to quarantine a third of the Earth's landmass, probably focusing on the Suez canal. Obligatory violence will ensue, of course, and so Violence will spread. Infection 3, humanity 0.

The quadrilogy path find a 28 Years Later in which the remnants of humanity find a way to survive alongside universal infection without resorting to further violence. Of course, "not resorting to violence" is a pretty shitty premise for a zombie movie so it'll probably just get a cash-in with few redeeming qualities like Alien: Resurrection.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:55 AM on September 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


Also, seeing that quin posted Simon Pegg's piece on fast-versus-slow zombies, now seems like as good a time as any to say that his central thesis:

However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you're careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them - much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares - the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.

... strikes me as not so much "true" as it is "true for Simon Pegg" -- zombie not so much as symbol of death, but as symbol of death to doughy middleclass British guy.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's amazing to me how closely the film parallels Wyndham's book, from the waking scene in the hospital to the early-morning walk through post-catastrophe London to the pugnacious young woman he teams up with to their informal adoption of a young girl to the Army rape-camp to their isolated camp off on the coast to the final rescue by air... all of that is straight from Day of the Triffids.

Huh. I love Day of the Triffids, but somehow I'd never noticed that.

I'd take issue with the "Army rape-camp" being a parallel, though, because that's one aspect that's reversed in 28 Days Later. Wyndham introduces the idea that the key role of women in the post-apocalyptic society is to repopulate the world in the scene at the University, among the people who eventually turn out to be the saviours.

In fact, Josella even mentions that they've been carting in blind women whose main purpose is to be baby-making machines, which is intensely creepy, and yet almost everyone (including Josella herself) is pretty much OK with this. When we find out about Torrence's eeeeevil feudal society, this aspect is never mentioned.

It is worth noting that the repopulation emphasis has apparently been dropped by the time our heroes find out about the Isle of Wight colony, and Josella's even happier about that, but even so, that's one idea that Boyle's taken from the heroes of the piece and transferred without all that much change to the villains.
posted by ZsigE at 9:01 AM on September 7, 2010


George Romero... who as far as I know never threatened to make anyone his bitch in an ad.

You can't prove it didn't happen.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:02 AM on September 7, 2010


Enough.
posted by Ratio at 9:03 AM on September 7, 2010


which is intensely creepy, and yet almost everyone (including Josella herself) is pretty much OK with this

Interesting, ZsigE! I don't remember the characters signing on so readily to the abstract idea --- though it's certainly possible my own horrified perspective distorted how I read that scene. It's been a while since I read it, so I'll look for that next time I pick up the book.
posted by Elsa at 9:05 AM on September 7, 2010




... strikes me as not so much "true" as it is "true for Simon Pegg" -- zombie not so much as symbol of death, but as symbol of death to doughy middleclass British guy.


The inescapable doom of the zombies has always been the source of their fear. They're relentless, and while you can fight them off, you never win.

Supplement your analogy of the week:
The seas rising, rising unemployment, nuclear war, the inevitability of death, the heat-death of the universe. ;)

It's the inevitability of VERY BAD THINGS that's scary, not the individual symptoms, which one by one we can match, so long as we're careful, lucky and paying attention. The failure of the libertarian principle hope!
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:07 AM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The inescapable doom of the zombies has always been the source of their fear. They're relentless, and while you can fight them off, you never win.

Much like attempts to beanplate political ideologies onto zombie movies.

Personally the zombies themselves have always been less interesting to me than the ways in which the remaining humans struggle for both life and integrity in the face of disaster.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:15 AM on September 7, 2010


It's the inevitability of VERY BAD THINGS that's scary, not the individual symptoms

Not quite. As pointed out in the linked piece, the zombie (and vampire, and werewolf) genre has a longstanding turn-against-loved-ones mechanism that you don’t get with these other types of disasters. Oh sure, you can present your characters with lifeboat ethics dilemmas so that you must sacrifice a loved one, but never do you have to put your family member down as a vector of the horror.

That, for me, is one thing that sensibly inspires metaphor. Not many of these other aspects.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:17 AM on September 7, 2010



Much like attempts to beanplate political ideologies onto zombie movies.

Personally the zombies themselves have always been less interesting to me than the ways in which the remaining humans struggle for both life and integrity in the face of disaster.


Oh! You're a libertarian! :D
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:17 AM on September 7, 2010


I should add that these other disaster types, too, lack the more obvious betrayal-of-flesh issue of becoming such a vector oneself, though attention is usually focused on the omnipresent danger of infected others, or an I-Am-Legendesque "nature of the monster" treatise.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:26 AM on September 7, 2010


It could be a really interesting chance to step up a level to worldbuilding: what happened to the governing structures across the world? If they were destroyed, what replaced them? Do all the remaining citizens agree with the new government, if there even is one? Were all countries affected? Did the unaffected countries try to make a grab for the affected ones once they thought they were safe, or before?

Sounds like World War Z, which is apparently also in development as a movie.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2010


I spent a lot of time in nursing homes as a kid, and I was always happy that they couldn't run.
posted by hanoixan at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to be an anarchist, but I now see that Hobbes is a genius. Political ideals can only exist in a space carved out by power and protection.

I think fast zombies = hobbes is a brilliant observation, and I'm angry at myself for not noticing it when the movie came out and I was in political philosophy courses.
posted by keratacon at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]




I used to be an anarchist, but I now see that Hobbes is a genius. Political ideals can only exist in a space carved out by power and protection.


Proper anarchy should be decentralizing the power and responsibility, not diluting it. It would still be necessary for a society to protect itself, to some extent. It's not accurate to suggest that the only way to supply security is through central authority. Mutual assistance and all that.

Also, I disagree with the basic premise here, the one Hobbes et al harp on. Humans are savage and become cultured by society and the watchful eye of authority. I very much believe that humans are shaped by material circumstances.
Capitalism creates value through the real or artificial existence of scarcity, and the inequitable distribution of wealth (or the essentials to survival) causes conflict. Said conflict tends to make one suspicious of humanity, but it's dangerous to assume universals about human behavior based on such a limited sample.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:32 AM on September 7, 2010


Personally the zombies themselves have always been less interesting to me than the ways in which the remaining humans struggle for both life and integrity in the face of disaster.

The dynamics of the survivors' interactions --- the small-scale societal structure that they cobble together --- are the most riveting part of a zombie film for me, so much so that it goes without saying. Hell is other people and so on. (I only ever hear this point raised explicitly in discussions of horror movies, which strikes me as odd. If you're discussing, for example, a romantic comedy and talking about its slapsticky jokes, no one thinks that you're dismissing the interpersonal relationships depicted.)

In any case, the uneasy dynamics of an old-fashioned slow-zombie movie rely in part upon the creeping, insidious threat of conversion, of dehumanization, of the infiltration from within as well as from outside. And that's the real horror: even if a team of survivors manage to stifle all their reasonable fears and the vicious fits of temper that can flare up when tired, frightened strangers are thrown together in a situation that demands cooperation and unity... even if they manage to quell the very understandable urge to fight for dominance and privilege, they can only hold out so long. Indeed, it's possible that they have an unwitting traitor in their midst right now, someone harboring a bite that's festering quietly, waiting to turn its host against the group.
posted by Elsa at 9:33 AM on September 7, 2010


Previously
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on September 7, 2010


Yes, yes. An iceberg. That'll do.

I just read Garth Ennis' CROSSED. It's just like 28 Days Later except with gang rape and torture. And you though the flesh eating kind were bad enough.
posted by cazoo at 9:38 AM on September 7, 2010


Oh! You're a libertarian! :D

Hey, be civil ;)

Ultimately, I find that zombie horror is skeptical of any social order that might arise in response to both the required paranoia and external threat. Here I have a strong bias towards George Romero where the zombies serve primarily as a foil for the hubris, prejudices, and morals of the survivors.

Or on preview, what Elena said. There's also a sense of moral threat behind very good horror writing in that it demands you go against important moral scruples for the greater good. Personally, I suspect I'd be one of the first to put a bullet through my brainpan should the zombie apocalypse come.

On second preview, stay classy Garth.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:43 AM on September 7, 2010


I'm a big fan of a lot of Ennis stuff but I couldn't be bothered with Crossed after the first issue - it just seemed cruel and bleak in a not particularly interesting way that just seemed like Ennis-by-numbers (no pints though).

Though someone told me something about bullets in a later issue that was quite clever and nasty.

I believe that it's actually another writer now, or another writer took over for a bit?
posted by Artw at 9:46 AM on September 7, 2010


Personally, I couldn't get past Ennis' dick-fest for Hellblazer. After that, I've filed him under, "not my thing."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:50 AM on September 7, 2010


Happy Dave, thanks for pointing me at World War Z! That's going on the wishlist.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:52 AM on September 7, 2010


My one complaint is that they named their ship the Icarus 2, but seemed surprised that their mission was going to be a suicide mission straight into the sun. Didn't they even look on the side of their own ship?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:23 AM on September 7

This is somewhat discussed in the director commentary.
posted by Green With You at 9:56 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not just for that area, but for the entire continent. There's just no containing it. The original movie wisely leaves this part to the imagination, but the sequel does a pretty good job of bringing the horror to life. If you haven't seen it, just imagine the patterns of mass hysteria emergent in this simulator happening in real life. Anticipatory panic, stampedes, individual attacks and violence rapidly multiplying into a terrifying exponential clusterfuck. (For added fun, try this variant that lets you "nuke" small circles of land, where even "successful" containment leaves a devastated wasteland pockmarked with craters.) All this is what makes the final scene in the sequel so disturbing. If you know anything about geography, it's easy to fill in the blanks.


I've never thought this from the first movie, and never saw the second. First, the infection seems to have an effective transmission rate of less than or not much more than one. You see infected attacking terrified people, but many of those struggles deal grievous wounds to one or both, especially since the normal people seem to get at least one good swing off with a crowbar or metal pipe. Infected with a fractured skull or leg is useless from the swarm's perspective. Even broken hands /arms would make their preferred grabs not go so well. The people who once infected will be in good enough shape to be threatening will take several down with them and probably be heavily injured. There are also the people who will take a bunch of infected with them, since guns are omnipresent in the US. Chicago PD carries M4s in squad cars (really). These don't stop a million zombie strong army, but they make it tough for the infected to get off the ground so to speak.

Structures are also a lot harder to break into than they're showing. In my old rough neighborhood, every ground floor window was barred, glass brick, plexiglass, or too small to fit through to make smash-n-grab hard. Now that I live downtown, the stairwells all lock off with heavy doors and metal cages coming from the ground floor.

The other thing that's more difficult is the time for it to spread. If infection broke out in Evanston because of scientists at NWstern, it would be hours before the infected made it to downtown Chicago (20 mi or so), even if one of them was a marathon runner, didn't stop to attack anyone and had people handing him water and misters and such. By that time, the bridges over the river would be up and or manned by people with 50 caliber machine guns. To get to the next large city north (Milwaukee, WI) is about 90 miles, which on foot would take at least several days. Going south it's even more hopeless for the infected. Zoom into satellite pictures on any random space between Gary and Indianapolis and you'll see huge empty fields. If people in the less dense areas between the two were evacuated (or holed up), the infected would probably get lost and wander in circles unless following major roads. Those following major roads would run into a tank or two.

Those soldiers wearing chemical weapons suits? If you're writing off an area to recapture or want to maintain a break zone that's been evacuated, they're going to be using chemical weapons, which work just dandy on infected. Indiscriminately killing massive numbers of people is something that modern armies are very good at.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:08 AM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Has anyone ever seen John Romero and George Romero in the same place at the same time? No? Just sayin'...

*facepalm*
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:08 AM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Proper anarchy should be ...

Proper? Wait, wait. There are rules to anarchy?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:13 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


My one complaint is that they named their ship the Icarus 2, but seemed surprised that their mission was going to be a suicide mission straight into the sun. Didn't they even look on the side of their own ship?

Well in fairness (and not having heard the discussion in the commentary), "falling back to Earth" was kinda exactly what they hoped would happen, so the name basically fits.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:16 AM on September 7, 2010


As much as there are for any political ideology.
And like any political discussion, we all disagree on what the "rules" are. But there's some continuity if you want to break it down into more specific terms. I prefer anarcho-syndicalism myself, but it's a clumsy word to throw around.

I also like to distinguish anarchy from juvenile fantasies and chaos, even if the media can't.

...sorry, was that a joke? :)
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:18 AM on September 7, 2010


Proper? Wait, wait. There are rules to anarchy?

I'm not sure which The Big Lebowski quote makes a better joke; that anarchy's not 'Nam, or that at least it's an ethos. So I'll just say this...

Johnson. Coitus. He fixes the cable. Shut the fuck up, Donny.

I watch too many movies.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:21 AM on September 7, 2010


I enjoyed this article, and the discussion. I'm surprised by the people who dismiss it so roundly, not by engaging with the argument, but by suggesting that even positing such an argument is somehow a joyless endeavor. I'd suggest that the people who feel the need to label thinking about things on multiple levels as useless and alienating are actually the ones engaged in a joyless lack of appreciation for the different ways we find enjoyment. It seems pretty clear that this author likes a good zombie movie.
posted by OmieWise at 10:22 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest that the people who feel the need to label thinking about things on multiple levels as useless and alienating are actually the ones engaged in a joyless lack of appreciation for the different ways we find enjoyment. It seems pretty clear that this author likes a good zombie movie.

I don't know. I'd say the author is guilty of it, too. If you can't enjoy the 2004 DotD remake* because it doesn't speak in political metaphors to you, I think that's a rather sad and limiting view, because there's much fun to be had in seeing how the survivors deal with their situation in their various ways.

* The theatrical release, not the execrable extended/unedited version.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:28 AM on September 7, 2010


Going south it's even more hopeless for the infected. Zoom into satellite pictures on any random space between Gary and Indianapolis and you'll see huge empty fields. If people in the less dense areas between the two were evacuated (or holed up), the infected would probably get lost and wander in circles unless following major roads. Those following major roads would run into a tank or two.

I don't think zombies pull out road maps to figure out where to go next. With enough infected people, a random walk would probably be enough to spread a Rage-like disease from city to city, even with quarantined roadways. That's not counting on the rats or some other verminous carrier to help spread any infectious agent.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 AM on September 7, 2010


It seems pretty clear that this author likes a good zombie movie.

Yes, and people who come to a different interpretation can advocate their own views on the matter. I don't see what the problem is here.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:43 AM on September 7, 2010


As a complete aside, you're really missing out if you don't finish Zombie Uprising in Saints Row 2 early, and then wear the unlocked zombie mask throughout the rest of the game. And select an English accent for your character. The cutscenes are marvellous.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:44 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno, if there's anything I learned from playing that pandemic simulation game (y'know, the one with Madagascar), any kind of epidemic needs an incubation period to get the disease vector spread around. The ten-second rage incubation period is a good way to wipe out a densely-populated city, but I really can't see it getting any farther than that.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 AM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wrote a really fun academic analysis of Alien once, for a class on Western Films. Talking about Ripley in the context of John Wayne is FUN FUN FUN. ;)

With that said, the danger of these discussions is that you can't really PROVE that you're right. You can provide evidence and build a strong argument, but often the response is the same. "You're over thinking." Sometimes those words can come from the author of the piece you're discussing, and that's hard to dismiss, right?

I don't know.

If it's an anthropological/sociological study, than careful observation and analysis can still stand. Ideas can be encoded in media without it being the author's intent, and some of the trends that this article describes are very compelling.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:47 AM on September 7, 2010


Has anyone ever seen John Romero and George Romero in the same place at the same time? No? Just sayin'...

*facepalm*
posted by 0xFCAF


Or either of them with Oscar Romero???
posted by workerant at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2010


shakespherian: Zombie horror and pandemic movies both require a fair quantity of handwavium to get things rolling. There's actually a fair bit of evolutionary study regarding the relationship between disease mortality and transmission. Your best bet for a global pandemic holocaust would be something that goes boom after an extended invisible latency rather than something that kills within three days.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:55 AM on September 7, 2010


Zombies became a lot less scary to me once I read this (Warning! Cracked.com List! "7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak World Fail (Quickly)")
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:58 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sometimes those words can come from the author of the piece you're discussing, and that's hard to dismiss, right?

Not necessarily. What the author usually means by that is some version "Hey, I didn't consciously mean that," but that doesn't mean that the subtextual meaning isn't there. All artists bring unintended or unconscious cultural, social, and personal baggage into a work of art along with their manifest narrative. Just because they didn't mean it doesn't mean it ain't there.

Of course, just because a particular philosophical or social idea can be explored through a particular artwork or story doesn't mean that it's the only supportable interpretation. That's why this stuff is so endlessly fascinating to me.
posted by Elsa at 11:00 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Loving how clearly you can tell which of the commenters above has read the link and which haven't.

OmieWise: All lit-crit inevitably attracts some tedious responses like that, along the lines of "You're overthinking it! It's just entertainment!" or "What's the point of this kind of joyless analysis when you could just watch things go boom." I don't get it either, but it's probably best to just ignore it. I mean, that point of view is sort of self-ending as a path toward any further conversation.
posted by rusty at 11:01 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your best bet for a global pandemic holocaust would be something that goes boom after an extended invisible latency rather than something that kills within three days.

Eh, I think the dead rising from their graves the world over works pretty well.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:18 AM on September 7, 2010


Loving how clearly you can tell which of the commenters above has read the link and which haven't.

I can't say I see the same bright line that you do between article-readers and non-readers. Some of us have read it and are either discussing other aspects of the zombie genre or are expanding upon ideas raised in (but not central to) the article.

For example, "The Running of the Dead" touches upon the notion of betrayal by a loved one, but doesn't really cut to the core of why that's such a crucial chapter in slow-conversion zombie movies; I've been dissecting that idea here without referring to the article's points because I think the author fails to observe some of the most compelling aspects of the idea.

Thorne discusses "the obligation to kill" that (he says) the fast-zombie movie imposes upon its survivors, but doesn't mention that it's a trade-off: the obligation to kill without hesitation and the "conspicuously brutal" performance of that obligation, against the ever-present uncertainty and slow dread of corruption that permeates the slow-zombie film, where camps of survivors huddle around wondering who's next, or --- even worse --- who has already been contaminated.

There's nothing wrong with some people using the article and ensuing discussion as a jumping-off point, just as there's nothing wrong with some people discussing only the article.
posted by Elsa at 11:31 AM on September 7, 2010


I can't say I see the same bright line that you do between article-readers and non-readers.

I think the reference was to some of the earlier commenters who criticized the article for failing to mention several things that it mentions in its fourth part.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a long ass article, and kind of meandering. TBH I'm still kind of hazy on what it's big point is.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on September 7, 2010


Can I also just take a moment to register my disappointment with Urban Dead? I thought at first it had such promise.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:54 AM on September 7, 2010


TBH I'm still kind of hazy on what it's big point is.

The social political background behind the Thing vs Hulk fight and the implications for the future Russian's middle class.
posted by nomadicink at 11:55 AM on September 7, 2010


Yeah, Elsa -- I just meant there's a bunch of comments specifically criticizing the article for missing the important point that the Army guys in 28 Days turn out to be just as scary as the zombie rage-infected human former pedants. Not that everyone who isn't specifically talking about the article's analysis didn't read it. Just that you can totally tell who read the first one or two parts and then came here to voice their frustration with it. :-)
posted by rusty at 12:09 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


cazoo: "I just read Garth Ennis' CROSSED. It's just like 28 Days Later except with gang rape and torture. And you though the flesh eating kind were bad enough."

Holy shit, that sounds horrible. Ennis is bad enough usually, with the casual homophobia and misogyny, but add in some gang rape and torture, and it's a perfect hell of cruel, despicable crap.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:09 PM on September 7, 2010


When I first went to see 28 days, the Crew and I prepared to set into a Mystery Science Theatre style teardown. We had a few, but unmemorable, comments up until the balcony scene in the church. Yelling 'hello' to a charnel house, only to have half its occupants focus back on one caused us all to shut the hell up.

Years later, we were talking about it, and someone asked why the plague only lasted 28 days. Sadly, my uninformed misanthropes were unaware that four weeks is when a living body starves to death. I couldn't decide whether, all unknowing, it made the movie more interesting to have that point of mystery.
posted by LD Feral at 12:20 PM on September 7, 2010


I'm still kind of hazy on what it's big point is.

1. George Romero's Night of the Living Dead was cool! Slow zombies are shuffling mobs of white bourgeous consumers opressing the heroic black and redneck underclasses.

2. Zach Snyder is a cock!

3. Danny Boyle's 24 Days Later was cool! Fast zombies are Muslim Animal-rights Terrorists. But! Boyle cleverly subverts our statist sympathies as the cure is worse than the disease. A zombie terrorist is the hero now, maybe. Also, triffids!

tl;dr: NotLD is about mindless consumerism; Snyder, still a cock; 24DL is about becoming a terrorist freedom-fighter.
posted by bonehead at 12:28 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, point 2 is a good one. The 28 days later stuff is all over the place though.
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on September 7, 2010


What if werewolves turned into coyotes or lynxes or armadillos?

I want to watch WEREMADILLO so badly right now.

posted by Jawn at 12:43 PM on September 7, 2010


missing the important point that the Army guys in 28 Days turn out to be just as scary as the zombie rage-infected human former pedants.

Ah, I get you. Yes, that's rather a large point to skim over.

Totally tangential: notice how neatly that blankness around the article's discussion of the (rapist) soldiers parallels the difference between my recollection of Day of the Triffids the Army rape camp and ZsigE's recollection of it. Odd. (Unless Wyndham is deliberately ambiguous in this scene, one of us grossly misunderstood it -- and the more I ponder, the more I suspect that I'm the gross misunderstander. I'm just pointing out that it's a large and surprising point for two readers to have recalled so differently.)

Also, I found Thorne's points about the audience being primed to welcome the military with open arms a bit startling. Sure, I had reason to be suspicious of the soldiers because I had twigged to the source material by then... but surely any genre-savvy audience knows that the appearance of isolated soldiers acting like saviors isn't great news in a horror movie?)

I'll admit: I can sympathize with those who got frustrated after the first page or two; the bulk of the text-supported argument* (and for me, the meat of Thorne's discussion) lies in the third and fourth pages. Reading the first page, I was twisting my face into a moue of irritation and muttering at the screen. A stronger introduction would have given us a taste of the conclusions to come, which might have been a more tempting carrot to dangle in front of the reader.

*The text here being the films in question. For the first page, he's setting up an argument with little meaningful support from the films themselves. Anyone who's read a mass of undistinguished college essays may be forgiven for thinking the following three pages will only be more of the same. Again, a strong introduction would have helped anchor the points he's going to make later.
posted by Elsa at 12:48 PM on September 7, 2010


So, no one here actually liked Zach Snyder's Dawn remake?

I mean, yeah, I get why people prefer the original, and they're very different movies, but I thought the remake was at the very least a very good zombie movie. (Also, it's not that much of a remake, other than "people fleeing from zombies take refuge in a shopping mall").
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:49 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jawn: "What if werewolves turned into coyotes or lynxes or armadillos?

I want to watch WEREMADILLO so badly right now.
"

I'm surprised that isn't already a SyFy Original Movie.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:50 PM on September 7, 2010


I wondered at the mechanism of infection in the movie...fluids, sure. But does the virus remain viable in the environment indefinitely? If not, you could theoretically eliminate it by containing it and killing any survivors to remove the threat of non-infected carriers. But you'd have to be ruthless.

I suppose if it can be carried by fleas or other critters that's different...if the virus has any ability to survive in the environment, it's a Captain Tripps situation, isn't it? Ultimately the only hope is either vaccination or natural immunity arising.
posted by maxwelton at 12:52 PM on September 7, 2010


I'm surprised that isn't already a SyFy Original Movie.

They're working their way through the phylums.
posted by Artw at 12:53 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Weremadillo vs. Possum Man, with a cameo by Joe Bob Briggs and a Tiffany/Deborah Gibson fight scene.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:54 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, no one here actually liked Zach Snyder's Dawn remake?

I liked the theatrical release a great deal (although I agree with someone above that nothing that follows quite lives up to the pre-credits sequence), but, as I think I mentioned (maybe in small text), I hated the extended/director's/unedited cut with a passion.

There's lots to love about that remake if you aren't wedded to Romero's consumerist critique.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:02 PM on September 7, 2010


It;s primary innovation was the zomBabie.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on September 7, 2010


I liked the Snyder DotD, but (heresy!) I usually like his films. I tend not to have loyalty towards the "purity" of the source material, since I feel like it only gets diminished by Snyder's style if you choose to let it. I grant that it's lots of flash and little substance, but that's fine and fun from time to time.

Durn Bronzefist, what did they change about the extended edition that made it so terrible?
posted by Riki tiki at 1:13 PM on September 7, 2010


nomadicink: "My only questions is what would they name a third movie? 28 Months Later seems like too long of a time span. "

Like Stitcherbeast said, Boyle is planning on making 28 Months Later someday, focusing on an isolated group in rural Russia after the virus has burned its way through. It doesn't sound like the most exciting premise in the world -- I'd rather see a depiction of the world at large trying to handle the oncoming threat. Ah well, maybe World War Z will fit the bill better.

Riki tiki: "Eurasia is infected and the rest of the world is united against it in some way. Extermination of the Rage virus is no longer an option but every effort must be made to quarantine a third of the Earth's landmass, probably focusing on the Suez canal."

Speaking of World War Z, that book did a good job of convincing me any such large-scale containment would be hopeless. For anything like the Strait of Gibraltar or the Suez Canal, I can easily imagine infected from Spain or Israel overrunning whatever defenses might be hastily thrown up in the panicked weeks before the contagion arrives from France. And what are the odds of it crossing the Mediterranean by boat? I could even see it reaching the Americas. With the entire uninfected population of Eurasia desperately fleeing for safety, it would only take one zombie-bearing refugee ship making landfall in Chile or California to potentially compromise one or both continents. That could easily happen in a GLOBAL PANIC! scenario.

shakespeherian: "I dunno, if there's anything I learned from playing that pandemic simulation game (y'know, the one with Madagascar), any kind of epidemic needs an incubation period to get the disease vector spread around. The ten-second rage incubation period is a good way to wipe out a densely-populated city, but I really can't see it getting any farther than that."

The incubation period is lower, but the transmission rate is much, much higher. Heck, sometimes it seems like the infected go out of their way to spread the disease, biting or vomiting on victims instead of just tearing them to pieces. As for a large city getting wiped out, that's the biological equivalent of tossing a lit match into a gunpowder factory. The aftermath is a majority of its population going berserk and scattering in every direction, each one with the capacity to replicate the chaos in the next town.

Also, the second movie introduces the possibility of non-violent carriers. The second epidemic starts because such a carrier passes the virus to her husband with a kiss. And it's implied that his son (who's also a carrier, IIRC) is the one who spreads it to mainland Europe. I never bought the idea that the newly infected just went through the Chunnel -- most of them were incinerated when they firebombed London, and surely they would have blockaded the tunnel just in case like they must have done in the original outbreak. So there's at least a small threat of incubated infiltration there along with the standard rampaging hordes.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:15 PM on September 7, 2010


I mean, yeah, I get why people prefer the original, and they're very different movies, but I thought the remake was at the very least a very good zombie movie.

With the obvious flaw that if you are in a shopping mall, hiding from zombies that can only attack you by biting and scratching, and you have to go outside or think there might even be a slight chance the zombies could get in, your first stops really should be

(a) the hardware store, if one is available;
(b) the sporting goods store;
(c) leather wear in the department store;
(d) kitchenware in same.

As opposed to, say, heading out wearing only a tank top.

I mean, there's thriller stupid (check to make sure the guy is dead!), and then there's horror movie stupid (don't go in the basement to investigate the noise!), and then there's zombie movie stupid, which is several orders more stupid than even regular horror movie stupid. If you're going to make the zombies run and the people meaner just to be more "realistic," you could at least make the survivors marginally less dumb.

Ahem.

The article was great, but falls under Shepherd's Law, which I have just now invented:

Anybody, given a liberal arts education, some free time and a pop-culture genre canon from which to work, can position that genre as a defense of any philosophical, religious or political worldview.

It's entirely possible for me to argue the opposite thesis re. "terrorists" and "foreigners" in these movies as our author, f'rinstance -- start from the thesis that the footage at the top of both films is meant to represent our concept of mob-as-foreign, and that the film is meant to undercut it with the message of mob-is-us; the survivors are cast as de facto "insurgents", working against a newly established social order (zombie rule) that has overthrown their standard political system.

Or given (again) time, you could argue that Snyder's DotD is a tale of survival told from the perspective of Tea-Party-style right-wing extremists, having us sympathize with a small group of purists who have seen the culture around them be eroded and destroyed by Liberal values (turning their fellow men into unthinking "zombies"; bloodthirsty sheeple), and even infecting their Randian society from within; they want to escape and re-start their society of pure American values, but discover that the entire world has been "infected" with humanist thought.

There are lots of reads available; I happen to agree with the author as regards 28, but I think he ascribes too much thought to Synder's DotD and is bending over a bit to find a reading there.
posted by Shepherd at 1:19 PM on September 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


what did they change about the extended edition that made it so terrible?

It was the kind of extended cut that I tend to think of as the “unedited” version. Scenes start too early and drag on way too long. All tension is lost. Nuance is obliterated. I mean, I totally understand why you would want a dozen shots of Sarah Polley gazing transfixed at the dock, because you don’t know which shot you’re going to want to use. What you don’t do is use all of them. Enjoy how they implied the protagonist’s backstory without clunky exposition? Don’t worry if you missed it. In the unedited version, you’ll get a scene or three of him spelling it out. It’s fucking terrible.

The only thing I’ve seen that commits the same error in the same way to such a degree is the extended version of the Cruise/Sara/Curry film Legend, with minutes upon minutes of Tom gazing wide-eyed at songbirds.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:21 PM on September 7, 2010


We all know how zombabby is formed, unfortunately...
posted by Mister_A at 1:23 PM on September 7, 2010


Highly infectious, high lethality diseases tend not to spread fast in the real world because high lethality tends to mitigate high infectivity. Dead or immobile victims don't spread disease. This is a major reason why the Marburg and Ebola viruses, both highly infectious and very lethal, neither of which have any kind of cure, haven't killed everyone already. Corpses which run around and rip out throats would be very effective transmission vectors. Given the premise, the social breakdown of 24 Days Later is very believable.
posted by bonehead at 1:27 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Dune SE has to be the worst extended cut I've seen, what with the huge unnecessary boring chunks of backstory read over lame SF paintings killing the momentum and atmosphere from the get go.

That said, I've not seen the latest cuts of Bladerunner, and for all I know that starts with Harrison Ford addressing the camera and saying "hey everybody, I'm a robot!".
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the end, the Rage virus is a façade. The opening scene of Days almost suggests that it doesn't even exist but is merely the manifestation of human violence (I'm referring here to the Clockwork Orange-style experiment on the gorilla). Violence in the Later universe begets violence in the strictest sense possible, and that's a human flaw beyond any measure of survival (Days) or control (Weeks). We have met the enemy and he is us.

I think your interpretation is closest to my heart, and definitely what this article is missing completely. The virus (and zombies in general) are undeniably a fictional premise, meant to illustrate other, real things. The primary message of near-all of the zombie films is that fear of the Other overwhelms our humanity and begets a constant cycle of violence which leads inevitably to our total destruction. I Am Legend is particularly specific in this regard, but 28 Days Later is nearly as obvious in its conclusion. Authority nearly always serves as the origin for the zombie plague and in its apparent resistance only serves to reinforce, ensure, and manipulate us into a destructive result. It's the exact opposite of Hobbes' philosophy, because in these movies authority only provides the illusion of security, and in reality is malicious and alienating. Successful social structures in apocalyptic settings are communal and military-style hierarchies quickly descend into violence, chaos, or incompetence.

Zombie movies are particularly disturbing because the severity of zombieness offers no escape from a destructive cycle, as ignoring the threat is not an option. To me, this is commenting on our fear of ignoring what we find threatening, be it petty criminals, drug dealers, pedophiles, rapists, terrorists or Saddam Husseins: to enable the cycle of violence we must first subscribe to the belief that the feared Other is zombie-like in their malignancy, and demand confrontation lest they spread and overwhelm us. Peace-based solutions such as diplomacy are deemed futile (as they are clearly futile in the case of zombies) even in the face of overwhelming evidence, because our fear of the Other is overwhelming our rationality and humanity.

In conclusion: To be truly civilized we must reject the idea of malignant evil, because if it exists, civilization is impossible.
posted by mek at 1:44 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for ruining it ruiner!
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shepherd: the survivors are cast as de facto "insurgents", working against a newly established social order (zombie rule) that has overthrown their standard political system.

This is the explicit plot of I am Legend. About which I agree with whoever upthread said it is really a zombie story, despite the baddies being cast as vampires. Who ever heard of mob vampirism spread by infection? They are clearly zombies in symbolism.

Or given (again) time, you could argue that Snyder's DotD is a tale of survival told from the perspective of Tea-Party-style right-wing extremists, having us sympathize with a small group of purists who have seen the culture around them be eroded and destroyed by Liberal values (turning their fellow men into unthinking "zombies"; bloodthirsty sheeple), and even infecting their Randian society from within; they want to escape and re-start their society of pure American values, but discover that the entire world has been "infected" with humanist thought.

Isn't that pretty much what he's arguing? As long as you're placing the Tea Party in its proper "authoritarian right wing" slot, not the "libertarian right wing" slot it likes to think of itself as occupying.

But more importantly, sure, if these are different arguments than the ones being made, you could try to make them. It would be interesting to see them made as well as those of the link. But I don't think we can actually judge their merits as critical readings until they are made as critical readings, and I really don't think we can propose a general law that all critical readings can be made with equal plausibility or general success.

At best, it could be speculated that given a writer of sufficient cleverness, rhetorical skill, and brainpower, any text could be made an exemplar of any critical philosophy (and Slavoj Zizek would be Example Number One for this, probably, if it were true), but I don't see how it could be proven.
posted by rusty at 1:45 PM on September 7, 2010


Hey, we’re just watching the extended Dune for the first time, but it’s been years since I saw the theatrical release, so I can’t remember how much less clunky it might have been. I am shocked to discover that someone thought it would be a good idea if every character voiced every thought from the book in stage whisper.

As usual, count me among the faithful in the eternal Church of the Editor.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:45 PM on September 7, 2010


That was @artw (wryly), not you, mek. You made a really good point here: In conclusion: To be truly civilized we must reject the idea of malignant evil, because if it exists, civilization is impossible.
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, the theatrical cut is pretty heavy on using a voiceover to convey internal thoughts, so if you're going to hate that you're going to that that in either version. You'll probably just notice it more in SE because it's longer and more plodding.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on September 7, 2010


Mister_A - The Ridley Scott approved DVD cover for the next release of Bladerunner will simply be the text "HARRISON FORD IS A ROBOT", and it will be accompanied by a press ad campaign declaring "THINK HARRISON FORD IS NOT A ROBOT? YOU ARE WRONG"
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Dune SE has to be the worst extended cut I've seen, what with the huge unnecessary boring chunks of backstory read over lame SF paintings killing the momentum and atmosphere from the get go.

OH GOD. I recently re-watched Dune, which I hadn't seen since I was 13 or so, and it was exhausting and infuriating. Lynch is (in my opinion, and I know that it's nowhere near universal) so marvelous with the amorphous, the ambiguous, the tantalizingly-beyond-reason, that is was a big splatty disappointment to have everything blathered at me in the various forms of voiceover. GRAR.
posted by Elsa at 1:50 PM on September 7, 2010


Artw: I heard they were going to add intertitles when he has the dream about the unicorn too: "THIS DREAM IS PROOF THAT HARRISON FORD IS A FUCKING ROBOT. JUST WAIT FOR IT."

And then later, when he finds the origami unicorn, there's be another one: "SEE? TOLD YOU."
posted by rusty at 1:55 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nathan Rabin recently did a "My Year of Flops" entry on Dune, it's probably a good companion piece to anyone watching it or rewatching it.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:57 PM on September 7, 2010


It's hard to say for sure, but it sounds like he's got the SE version there.
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on September 7, 2010


Oh hey, a little voiceover is expected and even, in this case, perhaps necessary. I don't want to have to say to myself "Oh, I think that was Paul's 'Fear is the mind-killer' look -- he acted the hell out of that." It's fine if he "says" it. But it's fucking interminable. So yeah, maybe the problem just snowballs in the extended version.

HARRISON FORD IS A ROBOT

I am incapable of reading that in other than rom-com announcer mode.

HARRISON FORD IS A ROBOT. SO IS SEAN YOUNG. SO IS THE OWL.

TOGETHER THEY LEARN THAT BEING SHORT ON TIME morphology; longevity

DOESN'T HAVE TO MEAN BEING SHORT ON LOVE My mother? I'll tell you about my mother. *BLAM!*

etc, etc.

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:15 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


All these moments will be lost, like tears in the rain, this summer!
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


*slo-mo dove flies towards viewers, hiding a wipe to the title*
posted by shakespeherian at 2:38 PM on September 7, 2010


At some point there has to be a quick montage set to Smash Mouth's All Star, featuring Ford in every scene where he's even remotely smiling, Pris putting on her makeup, and the "Home again home again Jiggity-jig" bots.
posted by quin at 2:38 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"This summer... Harrison ford knows he's not a robot." [record scratch] "Or... does he?" [Cue "All Star"]
posted by rusty at 2:50 PM on September 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Oh please, some brilliant Mefi film editor, please make this trailer.
posted by rusty at 2:51 PM on September 7, 2010


Fade to black, and then "The candle that burns twice as bright... and you've burned so very brightly" over the text "SUMMER 2010".
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2010


All these moments will be lost, like tears in the rain...

This line bothers me these days. I'm like "Roy, WTF, why didn't you create a blog, upload some pics to Facebook?!"
posted by nomadicink at 3:21 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was that film's worst "live action" unicorn, incidentally?
posted by maxwelton at 3:26 PM on September 7, 2010


"Roy, WTF, why didn't you create a blog, upload some pics to Facebook?!"

If the conspiracy hadn't ruthlessly suppressed tannhauserGateTruth.com and the truth about C-beams he wouldn't have had to murder all those people offworld and hijack a shuttle back to earth!
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on September 7, 2010


WTF, why didn't you create a blog, upload some pics to Facebook?!

Deckard: The status update would be routine retirement of a replicant which didn't make me feel any better about shooting a woman in the back.
Rachael: OMG! WTF!

Roy Batty: Are you proud of yourself, little man?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:53 PM on September 7, 2010


IMakeEyes.com is following you.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on September 7, 2010


The rage-infected are not zombies, but 28 Days Later is definitely a zombie apocalypse movie. A movie in which most* of humanity is turned into monsters, causing a collapse of civilization*, which follows a handful of survivors trying to escape the monsters, survivors who will turn into monsters themselves if they are caught, is a zombie apocalypse movie, regardless of what the monsters actually are.

Despite having read the original I Am Legend, I somehow never noticed this. Vampires acting like zombies.


It's not that the vampires in I Am Legend act like zombies. It's that the book is a zombie apocalypse story, with vampires as the monsters.

*it can just be a local collapse of civilization, and a local majority
posted by straight at 3:56 PM on September 7, 2010


I serious here, hee hee.

Think about all those Sci Fi flicks, how the internet would have changed.

There would be no hiding on Hoth, Vader just would have searched Google. A disturbance in the Force? More like the sudden silence of a billion blogs, AMIRITE?

"Open the internet connect HAL, I need to FTP this video to ground control!"

"I'm sorry Dave, your login access has been denied."

-------

"Captian, Khan has hacked into our system via an SQL injection!"

"KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN"

******

"E..T...poke...home..."
posted by nomadicink at 4:14 PM on September 7, 2010


JustEyes.com is following you.
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on September 7, 2010


If you could see what I've seen with your webcams!
posted by nomadicink at 4:48 PM on September 7, 2010


Sean of the Dead Announcer: "Claims that the virus was caused by rage-infected monkeys have now been dismissed as bull–"
posted by WCityMike at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Deckard sits at a desk, where his computer is. He hardly ever masturbates there, because he thinks it's weird to masturbate at a desk. Anyway. Deckard types furiously, filling the Google search box with this query:

"Harrison Ford" AND robot AND is_

We see a bead of sweat form on his forehead in exquisite close-up as he clicks the "search" button. Cut to medium shot of the COMPUTER, over Deckard's shoulder. It's a Google results page, filled with entries like, "Top ten robotiest things about Harrison Ford, the famous robot;" and "Looking For Harrison Ford Is A Robot? Find It At Amazon. No, Really!" and on and on—there are more than 400 million entries. Pan slowly to Deckard's face in profile. A single tear rolls down his cheek.
~Fin~
posted by Mister_A at 5:27 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jawn: I want to watch WEREMADILLO so badly right now.

I love the internet so freakin' much.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:06 PM on September 7, 2010


FURRY ALERT! FURRY ALERT! CODE RED!
posted by Artw at 7:09 PM on September 7, 2010


Some nice production art from the (aborted) Peter Berg version of Dune
posted by Artw at 8:01 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I'm still working through the essay and am sort of iffy on some of his points, it's actually a really interesting way to learn more about Hobbes, at least from my ignorant perspective, so thanks for posting it.

I prefer Snyder's DotD to Romero's, running zombies and all; there's just as much commentary in Snyder's ('See? America always cleans up its shit!') as the original - both extremely obvious and fairly facile, mind you - but Snyder gets extra points by not turning the Dead into ridiculous comic relief or having a biker get killed while taking an ill-timed blood pressure exam on one of those automated dealies. Romero should have let things be after Night..., frankly. He seems to have bought into the whole social commentary thing to the point where he is willing to ignore or violate the integrity of the zombie concept to shoe-horn them into whatever obvious or belated 'relevant' metaphor he's decided to make another crap movie about (See: Land of the Dead. Though you're better off not.)

Also, Crossed manages to rise above Ennis' C-grade stuff when he puts the gleeful atrocities on the backburner in favour of the bleakness and raw humanity. The new series is being written by David (Stray Bullets, Young Liars) Lapham. While I haven't read it, that guy writes some seriously nihilistic stuff, as opposed to Ennis, who is a raging moralist, albeit with a potty mouth.

Also the second, holy crap, do I ever have to read Day of the Triffids again. Aside from the blindness, I don't remember any of that stuff.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:29 PM on September 7, 2010


*belated->belabored
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 PM on September 7, 2010


I think it's a bit ridiculous to say that directors and authors don't put ideology and philosophy into their work. Even if an author doesn't care that much about ideology or philosophy, it can still be an interesting way to frame a story. Or it may be that the author is simply thinking about things that have already been thought about prior, without knowing about the work of others.

Lots of artists, even ones who make zombie movies like to think their work is more important then simply making mindless entertainment.
I enjoyed this article, and the discussion. I'm surprised by the people who dismiss it so roundly, not by engaging with the argument, but by suggesting that even positing such an argument is somehow a joyless endeavor. I'd suggest that the people who feel the need to label thinking about things on multiple levels as useless and alienating are actually the ones engaged in a joyless lack of appreciation for the different ways we find enjoyment.
Or maybe their hobbsian law 'n' order types and just like people badmouthing their ideology.
posted by delmoi at 1:30 AM on September 8, 2010


Deckard sits at a desk, where his computer is. He hardly ever masturbates there, because he thinks it's weird to masturbate at a desk.

Man. That is weird. I had never thought about that.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 AM on September 8, 2010


I don't think we can actually judge their merits as critical readings until they are made as critical readings, and I really don't think we can propose a general law that all critical readings can be made with equal plausibility or general success.

I was being kind of tongue in cheek about that, a la Rule 34 or Sturgeon's Law.

But now the Blade Runner de-rail has me thinking "Deckard is a closeted replicant," which obviously calls to mind the more popular use of "closeted" as a description of self-repression.

And Blade Runner springs fully formed into my mind as an allegory for Republicans Vs. Homosexuals, where the replicants are "out" and "flamboyant" (very flamboyant, in some cases), coming from the distant places where they've been hidden away (the underground clubs, the "baths,") into plain view and demanding "more life" (equal rights).

Who is called upon to stop these flamboyant, demanding entities? A crew-cut white man, a square-jawed symbol of manly virtues, somebody with close connections to the law itself. Somebody who embodies Traditional Values.

But something troubles this manly man. The more he fights against the flamboyant "out" replicants, those pesky non-subservient, rights-demanding things-that-seem-like-us-but-can't-be-human, the more he begins to identify with them. The more he begins to question himself. Could he, himself be -- possibly be -- one of them?

It's right there in the text, really: when Rachel asks "Is this testing whether I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?", what does Deckard answer?

Because the correct answer is "yes."

The worst thing about this reading is it's temporally flawed: the "closeted Republican" thing didn't become a thing until a few years ago, and 1982 is a bit early to make Blade Runner about AIDS ("I want more life" would be a key bit of text in the latter case). But there's a good critical reading in there somewhere.
posted by Shepherd at 3:41 AM on September 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


justGeneticDesign is following you.
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on September 8, 2010


Shepherd: I see. I took you seriously because I've seen that proposed in all earnestness a number of times. And it's sort of true (easy to believe anyway) but also sort of not true, in a slippery way. Anyway.

I love your Bladerunner as Repressed Homosexuality reading. And while the history of the intent of the text doesn't necessarily matter, from a critical viewpoint, there's actually some support in P.K. Dick's life and work to make an argument not just that the meaning is there to be read, but that it could have been put there on purpose. From a sketch PKD bio online:

"Around 1944-46, he underwent intensive psychiatric treatment against agoraphobia and some other psychological troubles. He entered Berkeley High School in 1944. At 18, he left his mother's flat, where he had been living since his parents' divorce. He moved to a flat shared with artists and homosexual poets; doing so was probably only to show his mother he could manage himself alone, since homosexuality didn't attract him."

So issues of homosexuality and American culture would not have been foreign to him at all, including intimate personal knowledge of the lengths gay people would have to go to hide themselves, or the ostracizing they would face if they declined to.

However, arguing against bringing Dick's original novel into it at all, I don't see all that much support for this reading in Do Androids Dream of electric Sheep itself, which is really very different stylistically and in many plot details than the movie. DADoES is more concerned with what it means to be human (which Blade Runner is too, but in kind of a different way) -- specifically loneliness and empathy. The great irony, of course, being that the test to distinguish humans from androids is an empathy test, when it's the supposedly empathetic humans that are keeping artificial animals and slaves, have destroyed most of their planet, and rely on a machine to produce their moods and emotions. I haven't read DADoES in a while, though. There could be material for this reading in there.

Anyway, as far as the movie goes, I like it too. Throw in Peter Lorre from the Maltese Falcon, and you could make it a general examination of homosexuality in noir, old and new.
posted by rusty at 7:58 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


YouNexusIDesignYourEyes.com is following you
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2010


A class to die for: Zombies 101 at U. Baltimore
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2010


Despite having read the original I Am Legend, I somehow never noticed this. Vampires acting like zombies.

straight : It's not that the vampires in I Am Legend act like zombies. It's that the book is a zombie apocalypse story, with vampires as the monsters.

And it's probably worth noting here that Romero took his inspiration for the characters that became known as zombies in Night of the Living Dead directly from the book I Am Legend. So if you see similarities between the monsters, there's a good reason.
posted by quin at 12:11 PM on September 8, 2010


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