Book Review: Autumn by David Moody

Hi again…

Zombies. They seem to be everywhere these days. Resident Evil: Afterlife brought their biologically engineered zombies back to the big screen recently. On Halloween 2010, the Walking Dead will invade television on AMC. And there have been many recent books – from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Patient Zero and Zombie Britannica.

So what makes David Moody‘s upcoming book Autumn different?

First of all, this is the first zombie book that I can recall that never uses the “z” word explicitly. Moody refers to them as “creatures” or “figures,” and these undead don’t seem to be of the flesh-eating variety. Other than one scene that made me wonder if they might be capable of extreme violence, it’s just the oppressive numbers of restless dead and the fact that they’re everywhere that makes them a persistent threat.

Second, though the book starts like many zombie plagues with some sort of worldwide biological or chemical event, Moody doesn’t try to explain how or why it happened. Though 99% of the world’s population suddenly dies, our few survivors are more interested in survival than a cure.

Third, the survivors themselves are just ordinary people. Michael is a bit of a loner who has a mysterious past he’s not willing to talk about much. Emma was a medical student and is more keen on finding a safe place than solving the riddle of what caused the event. And Carl was a husband and father who never quite gets over the trauma of losing his wife, daughter, and his old life.

Autumn may have the earmarks of your ordinary zombie tale, but it is far from it. Moody’s writing is just descriptive enough of the threats facing our survivors to make the whole story more psychological horror than of the brain-eating variety. It’s extremely well written with the implied silences just as important as the action. It reminded me more of classic Stephen King than George A. Romero – and I have to say I’m looking forward to what’s happening next.

If you’re looking for a different kind of horror or zombie fiction, you can’t do much better than this creepy start to a new series by David Moody. Look for Autumn on bookshelves now!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out Autumn and other great books below!

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DVD Review: Dead Snow

Hi all!

It’s not a secret. I like zombies. Maybe not if one tried to gnaw on me like a piece of fried chicken, but I like stories about zombies whether they’re on TV, in print, or on the big screen. So when I heard about Dead Snow last year after Sundance, I knew it had to go on my “To See” list. It finally comes to DVD on February 23, 2010 and I got a sneak peek!

What’s it about? Take one part traditional horror plot with teenagers or 20-somethings, add a vacation cabin in the Norweigian Alps, and… Nazi zombies? Really!? Yes, Nazi zombies. And these guys aren’t messing around…

As the movie starts, we see a girl running through the trees and snow being chased by something or several somethings. It’s not clear what the “somethings” are, but you know they can’t be good. The music used for the opening sequence was an inspired choice and I only wish I knew what it was, but I can’t seem to find the soundtrack anywhere. We’re then introduced to the
beautiful people – four guys and three girls – heading up into the Alps for some skiing, snowmobiling, and fun. And yes, there’s a girl missing – one of the guys’ girlfriends was meeting them up there.

Everything is happy and cheerful until the obligatory weird local guy comes to the door in the middle of the night one night and regales them with stories of the Nazis and locals who had clashed 60 years before. During World War II, a Nazi company occupying the area were driven deep into the mountains and presumed to have frozen to death. He even has the gall to complain about the coffee he’s given as a guest. Once he leaves, everything gets rolling pretty quickly.

Honestly, I think this zombie movie has everything I could have wanted in a horror movie. Cute girls, humor, a bit of T&A, and zombies with a lot of personality. It even includes a zombie attack in the outhouse. Not only is it a gory, bloody mess, but it pays homage to some of the great horror movies of the past, including two of my favorites – Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. When I saw the chainsaw come out of the shed, I burst out laughing.

Let’s talk about the zombies a bit. These aren’t your usual slow, brainless variety. For 60+ year old zombies, these guys are darn fast. The makeup artist did an amazing job providing unique faces for each zombie and I felt like each zombie actor provided a bit of personality to their characters which was awesome.

If you’re not into blood and guts, I would recommend staying away from Dead Snow. But I was constantly amazed at the variety of ways that zombies and campers could be killed or mutilated. Until this movie, I have never seen a man’s head get ripped apart. In one scene, they actually had a girl awake as a group of zombies pulled out her intestines. Fake blood was used aplenty in this film, liberally splattered across the landscape and the actors.

Also, I have to say that the subtitles didn’t detract from the film at all for me. Usually the actors weren’t talking during the fiercest action scenes, so you weren’t constantly bobbing your head up and down as you tried to keep track of what they were saying and what was happening on screen.

In my new order of zombie favorites, I’ll have to put Dead Snow in my top 5, along with Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Resident Evil, and Army of Darkness. Be sure to check it out at your favorite retailer or rental store when it hit shelves February 23!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these monsters at Amazon!

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DVD Review: Day of the Dead (2007)

Hi all…

Every once in a while, I have to take in a horror movie to see whether I find it a) comical, b) grotesque, or c) all of the above. Day of the Dead is definitely in category c) for me. However, even though it was comical in places (I have a sick sense of humor), I thought this was a decent zombie movie remake. It was smart, had decent special effects, and generally held together to the end.

[rating:2.5/4]

The 2008 version of Day of the Dead is a remake of the original Day of the Dead from George Romero. Director Steve Miner and writer Jeffrey Reddick helmed this one, starring Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon, Christa Campbell, and Ving Rhames.

This version of the movie was set in the small mountain town of Leadville, Colorado, but not filmed there. (Similar to Alien vs. Predator: Requiem that was set in but not filmed in Buena Vista, Colorado late in 2006.) An outbreak of zombie-making virus hits this pleasant mountain town, spreading like wildfire. Funny enough, you CAN have a quasi-scientific reasoning and behavior for a virus that turns you into a zombie!

Day of the Dead DVD CoverWhat did I learn about surviving an attack of virus-infected zombies by watching Day of the Dead?

  1. Don’t let your boyfriend bleed on you during a city-wide quarantine.
  2. Don’t let a friend’s mother cough on you during a city-wide quarantine.
  3. Don’t lose your keys when wrestling with a zombie. You never know when you’ll need to become a world-class sprinter to get to your car in the parking lot.
  4. If you are responsible enough to carry a gun, be sure to also carry a few extra clips and keep it loaded at all times.
  5. Don’t lock yourself into a “safe” place with infected people who really want to eat you when they change into zombies.
  6. Be sure when building a hospital sure to be attacked by zombies that you use industrial-strength ventilation ducts.
  7. If your name is Ving Rhames or Mena Suvari and you want to keep your career going, be sure to find a new agent who will give you better scripts.
  8. If you’re a zombie and need a snack, the following items will work in a pinch – your own eyeball, the intestines of a high school girl, and your wife’s face.
  9. It’s very freaky when you see a zombie crawling on the ceiling.
  10. And lastly, when it starts raining zombies from second and third story windows, it’s time to RUN!!!

I’d really like to know when high school students became marksmen, but other than that this wasn’t a bad zombie flick. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. A virus infects people. People become zombies. Those people not zombies either become food or fight back to escape the area. Pretty much the same plot in nearly every zombie movie I’ve seen, with minor variations.

My favorite part of this movie? Zombies with guns! They weren’t great marksmen, but they more than make up for it in enthusiasm. Also, who ever would expect to hear the words “Zombie” and “Crush” in the same sentence?

My least favorite part? Mena Suvari. Yes, she’s cute, but this was not her kind of role. Ving Rhames, though under-used in this film, actually did ok and probably enjoyed becoming a zombie during one scene!

The DVD includes several extras, including:

  • Cast And Crew Commentary
  • On the Set
  • an Alternate Ending
  • Several trailers (International, Unrated, and Theatrical)
  • a Photo Gallery
  • and Interviews

Overall, I have to give this movie a 2.5 out of 4. It was better than I expected, followed the traditional zombie formula, and had some great one liners. I’ve seen more intelligent zombie flicks, but this one was ok in my book.

This Day of the Dead DVD will be released on September 9, 2008 at major retailers across Canada and the United States.

Thanks!

–Fitz

p.s. If you’re interested in purchasing the Day of the Dead, check out these Amazon links:

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