November 14, 2006

Surprisingly, I don't even think about zombies that often...

My big thing with zombie movies is that I think society would be better at handling the situation than movies give them credit. There are some glaringly obvious moments of suspension of disbelief that reign the zombie movie genre.

1: Don't Get Bit
Seriously. How hard is it to keep a slow-moving decaying old guy with googlie eyes from touching you WITH HIS FACE? Obviously, this would happen to many people. It’s not the kind of thing the average person is prepared for. But everyone? I don’t think so.

2: An epidemic, to be sure. But really, how long would it take for the world to be completely overrun?
Night falls. Everything’s normal. The next morning, you’re one of the seven remaining humans on the continent. I think it would take a little more than 10 hours for this type of apocalypse. Especially taking into account point #1.

This is why I like the movie 28 Days Later. The disease doesn’t depend solely on people getting bitten/killed. It spreads more like hepatitis. If people with hepatitis were uber-violent, a lot more people would have it. It also shows that it took (a few less than) 28 days for things to get really bad. It didn’t bother trying to convince us that the world was destroyed in a matter of hours by tottering corpses. On the contrary, these guys are wicked fast. And it still took them a while. It also only happens in England, a nicely secluded (albeit large) island. Australia would have also been acceptable. The only downside is that the monsters in 28 Days Later are not zombies. They’re just hysterically angry people with poor communication skills.

3. Would it be that hard to hide from a zombie?
Shaun of the Dead also has a refreshing look at zombies. Particularly the scene where they get through a crowd of zombies simply by acting like them. But Shaun isn’t really a zombie movie either. It’s a zombie movie parody. A brilliant parody, but a parody nonetheless.
It would be very easy to elude a zombie because they’re not that smart. Cover yourself with something dead and stinky and move very slowly. As long as they don’t sense livelicious body heat they should leave you alone.

4. Why don’t zombies attack each other?
They’re positively made of time. Why not? All they do is mill around until somebody does something stupid. Then they tear them apart only to go back to milling, rotting and stinking shortly thereafter. If not each other, at least animals. Sure we all love Scruff the harrowing wondermut, but letting him trot around unscathed is hard to accept. Why wouldn’t zombies be interested in animals? They’re just as warm and gooey/crunchy/chewy as people. Plus that would make for a better variety of danger (aka entertainment). How long would it take the world to be overrun by zombies if there were undead rotweilers chasing everybody around? Or if zombies got in a zoo: pythons, tigers, monkeys and newly land-mobile piranhas and sharks!

All this is to say that the zombie movie genre is a thoroughly well-worn territory. Unless something drastically new is done or newly parodied, I’m done watching them. However, I think a television series would be acceptable.

I think I’ll call it Era of the Dead. I’ll get dude’s permission to steal from the Night/Dawn/Day thing. In Era, zombie invasion will have time to develop in a more natural time frame. Incorporating animals in the mix would add a delightful peppering of “monster-of-the-week” throughout the series. And Era would be sure to end in no more than three seasons, promising not to stray from its primary vision, maintaining thematic integrity.

Season one – the world is slowly going down the crapchute. We get attached to a large Firefly-like cast among a larger LOST-like cast and won’t have to anticipate losing anyone [important] until season 3. The main objective is to stay alive (duh) and to scrape together what is left of humanity and find sanctuary from the zombies.

Season Two – there is a system in place to keep civilization safe from zombiedom. Weekly episodes focus on character development and intermittent break-ins from zombies or break-outs from headstrong teenagers. People with new-found political power become the real bad guys. They’ll probably have a bad plan like world-wide nuclear annihilation. The system collapses in the season finale; it’s a bittersweet victory for our heroes because they’ve destroyed the human monsters (all eaten by zombies or some other ironic demise) but now have to face the zombie world with literally no hope of survival.

Season Three – (This could also be wrapped up as a shorter season, mini-series or a movie) The world now resembles what happens so quickly in zombie movies. The main characters can even end up in a shopping mall if they do it right. Now that we truly love our brilliantly assembled/balanced cast, we can agonize over each of their deaths. But it’s okay because they’ve had time to come to terms with themselves and each other. To add an extra pang of emotion, they’ll discover that the bad guys from season two had actually developed a cure, but it was lost with them.

This is how a zombie movie always ends: the world is over. All is lost. The End. But when you have 30 or so hours to develop that narrative instead of 2, you have yourself a great story and not just an inappropriately funny gore fest.

Era of the Dead would have to go to Showtime or HBO. Sci-Fi (bless their hearts, they’ve tried their best with Battlestar Galactica) wouldn’t be able to capture the humanity of it. And it would be far too gory for network TV (don’t assume a great story line could ever completely take the place of high-budget violence!). Yes, a prime channel is the way to go. Then it can be sold on DVD for outrageous amounts of money.

I can’t believe I just spent this much time/thought/energy on zombies. I blame Travis. If someone rips off Era, I might not even mind because I’m kinda tired of thinking about it. But I won’t be too tired to sue.


Comments on "Surprisingly, I don't even think about zombies that often..."


Blogger lvs said ... (4:34 PM) : 

Brilliant. Can't wait to see you this weekend.


Blogger Yax said ... (4:57 PM) : 

FOX will try to make this into a reality show.


Blogger Sarah said ... (4:46 PM) : 

And then cancel it halfway through the first season.

Brilliant, Trey. Hilarious and brilliant.

Incidentally, after watching Shaun of the Dead, and while I still worked at the Center for the Homeless, I devised the safest place in South Bend to hide from the Undead: the third floor storage room. It was enormous, high off the ground, and the third floor windows looking over the stairwell were reinforced with wire inside. The doors to the storage room have no windows whatsoever, and are made of metal. Plus there’s plenty of food for a long seige.

Yup, that’s where I’d go.


Blogger Cap'n Ganch said ... (12:13 PM) : 

I dunno. If zombies came knocking at my front door, I'd probably welcome the company.


post a comment